Allocating Costs is Efficient, Too!

July 1, 2003
Maximizing Building Performance Through Environmental Strategies - PRODUCTS
Turn off unnecessary lights. Keep windows and doors closed in heated or air-conditioned areas. Use window blinds to block excess sun and warmth during the day. All of these suggestions are promising ways to manage energy bills and keep potential costs down. But once the lights are down and the shades are closed, how do you know which strategies are really making a difference in expenditures?The latest generation in energy management tools today includes a billing module technology – an element that helps control energy costs and tracks energy usage in order to make building performance modifications as required or desired. With the information this technology can provide, building owners and managers can evaluate energy consumption, supervise power usage, and then use the results to make cost-effective adjustments.Square D/Schneider Electric offers an illustration of this new technology – its POWERLOGIC® Engineered Solutions Billing Module is an example of how a billing module can make the process of managing energy costs a little less frustrating. It:Determines billing and divides costs for all of a building or plant’s utility meters (electrical, gas, water, and steam). Also tracks energy consumption as recorded by energy meters.Simplifies data analysis process, providing at-a-glance reports to identify usage over different periods.Allows user to manipulate energy consumption data to fit certain needs.Saves money – reduces cost allocation effort to a few easy steps and allows user to bill departments/processes for actual utility usage rather than billing by square footage. This can help persuade department managers to reduce energy usage – it makes them more accountable for their power bills.Allows billing data from various devices and groups to be saved to a standard file that can be downloaded into most spreadsheet applications.Dealing with high energy bills, but still don’t think you can rationalize upfront costs for this type of technology? Karl Kersey, senior product specialist, Palantine, IL-based Square D/Schneider Electric (, uses an iceberg analogy to explain the benefits of the billing module. “Icebergs have huge peaks above the water. In reality, the majority of an iceberg is under the water, out of view. In our experience, by installing a PowerLogic system, you can realize a two- to four-percent savings in utility costs by knowing where and how energy is used – the tip of the iceberg. This would include looking for opportunities in peak shaving, spreading, and coincident demands. There are firms that realize savings for their customers by merely comparing the utility bill to the applicable rate structure. When you have a metering system in place, you can look for these other opportunities. Further savings come from increased equipment utilization and improved reliability,” he explains. “Most of our customers use this product for allocating costs throughout their facility or company. Cost centers can change often, especially in manufacturing, and the ability to accurately allocate these costs is of crucial importance.”Getting ‘In the Loop’So you’ve torn up 20,000 square feet of old carpet in your building. What do you do with it? Haul it away to the local dump?Not so fast. You might have other options.The carpet industry is leading an effort to reduce the flow of waste carpet to U.S. landfills through The Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) ( This voluntary agreement between industry representatives; governmental organizations on the federal, state, and local levels – including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and other non-governmental groups, has established an ambitious, 10-year schedule to increase the amount of recycling and re-use of post consumer carpet and reduce the amount of waste carpet going into the landfills.CARE’s plan, known as the Memorandum of Understanding for Carpet Stewardship (MOU) seeks to achieve a national landfill diversion goal of 40 percent by 2012, including a recycling rate of 20 to 25 percent.“The paper industry has just achieved a 55-percent rate, and that’s a much simpler process than what we are doing,” says Frank Hurd, chairman of the board of CARE. “We’re trying to find products that we can recycle carpet into that are recyclable themselves so we can close the loop.”While most components that make up carpet are recyclable or reusable, only about four percent of waste carpet stays out of landfills.Building owners can help drive the trend, Hurd says. When replacing carpet in a facility, talk to your contractor and ensure that the carpet being removed is recycled rather than landfilled. Specify a carpet or fiber cushion made of post consumer recycled content.Use building products made from the recycled content of post consumer carpet.Most importantly, make sure the mill you are working with knows you want the old carpet recycled early on.“If you wait until it is too late, the demo team might not be involved in the loop,” Hurd says. “Carpet recycling needs to be specified up front. There are mills that will bid on that.”

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