Energy: What's Up Now?

Sept. 6, 2001
Part 6: Implementation

The first step in implementation is to continue the education process by performing an Energy Survey (sometimes referred to as a walkthrough audit) or a detailed energy audit of the facilities. This can sometimes be accomplished by non-technical managers and staff, looking for obvious waste. However, this is the time to pull in expert help, either internally or via consultants, to fully develop all of the opportunities to reduce cost. The final document should contain sound recommendations with conservatively projected energy savings and realistic capital costs.

Once an Energy Survey is complete, it is time to sit down and develop the Energy Master Plan. The Energy Master Plan, when properly developed, will be the depository of past energy history and future energy reduction strategies. This should be a living document and updated periodically as the facilities, energy market, and technologies change.

A significant component of the Energy Master Plan and any comprehensive energy reduction program is the implementation of a competitive utility purchasing strategy in states that have a deregulation policy in place. (For more details on a comprehensive plan, go to [] for a paper by George Owens titled, "The Ten Step Program to Successful Utility Deregulation For Building Owners and Managers.")

Experience indicates that savings of 10 percent or greater are generally available by implementing improvements in Operations and Maintenance (O&M). These improvements are most often low-cost/no-cost adoptions of best practices in how to run facilities efficiently. Besides improving O&M practices, Commissioning (or re-Commissioning in this case) has also proven to be beneficial in reducing operating costs. Commissioning is a term describing a building tune-up. A building tune-up brings a building up to (or beyond) its design standards, which either were not fully implemented when it was built or have deteriorated over time. (Refer to the above-mentioned web link to view a paper titled, "O&M Pays, Commissioning Helps.")

And finally, the real meat and potatoes of a comprehensive energy reduction plan is implementing the Energy Conservation Measures (ECM) identified in the Energy Survey. These can range from lighting upgrades to HVAC retrofits. (See [] for a detailed list of possible ECMs, along with additional background information that can be downloaded.)

A concern of many facility owners is how to finance these improvements. Luckily today there are many options available, including:

  1) Self funded.
  2) Utility rebates (yes, there are still a few to be had).
  3) Energy equipment leasing plans.
  4) An outsourcing program, sometimes called a performance contract, where the savings from the ECMs pay back the capital investment over a period of time.

This process need not end if a continuing program of management commitment, education, and energy system improvement implementation is instituted. There are always new technologies being developed, new rate schedules to investigate, and changing operating conditions to adapt. If you need staffing help or more expertise, consider engaging a professional energy manager, one with the CEM certification sponsored by the Association of Energy Engineers (

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