Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Time is Now For Energy Efficiency & High Performance Buildings

This article is submitted by by David Pospisil, Program Manager of Con Edison’s Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Program, New York, N.Y.

There is no time like the present to implement energy efficiency measures in your building. Energy prices are likely to continue to be volatile, and new environmental regulations will increase the pressure on businesses to take action. Fortunately, the incentives today are geared toward taking the guesswork out of reducing energy and creating an action plan.

Implementing energy efficiency measures can save a company millions of dollars in energy usage and drastically reduce emissions as well as create a corporate culture that fosters continuous improvement in the areas of sustainability and energy efficiency. If your company doesn’t already have one, now is the right time to set in place an energy efficiency policy.

If you’ve already gone through the Greater Greener Building Plan benchmarking process – a requirement that was to be completed by August 1, 2011 for all New York building owners with 50K square feet or more –  then you are aware of your building’s energy performance rating. If the rating showed your facility is not performing as well as similar buildings, the next step is to commission an energy audit. An energy audit can identify how energy is used in your facility and recommend ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce your energy costs. 

There are various energy audit options. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recognize three levels:

Walk-Through Assessment (Level 1): It provides an energy bill analysis and possibly a brief survey of the facility. Subsequently, the report outlines no-cost and low-cost opportunities.
Energy Survey and Analysis (Level 2): A more detailed analysis taking into consideration the owners’ operations and maintenance, constraints and economic factors. Final report may include potential capital intensive energy efficiency opportunities.
Detailed Analysis (Investment Grade Audit) (Level 3): This analysis provides a higher degree of data collection, monitoring and analysis and focuses on capital intensive opportunities. The report usually includes detailed analysis on project cost and savings.
After an energy audit you should be able to effectively evaluate the many sustainability investment options available and understand where your green dollars will have the greatest impact.

The Con Edison Green Team can be a valuable partner on this front. The Commercial and Industrial (C&I) Energy Efficiency Program ( funds Level 3 audits, up to 50% of the study cost can be co-funded (up to $67,000),  allowing you the opportunity to explore various energy efficient options.

Even in a weak economy, the sooner improvements are made, the sooner savings will add up. The cost of waiting is enormous. It’s like the cost of waiting to enter the PC age and waiting for the greatest, most sophisticated computer to come on the market. Over that period of time you are waiting – in the case of energy efficiency – there are substantial savings that your business is losing. 

When assessing options for investing in energy efficiency, keep in mind these important factors to help ensure a complete assessment of the cost effectiveness:
·         Consider long term and think about the cost and payback that will accrue over the complete life cycle of systems or equipment.
·         Compare the cost of continuing with “business as usual” with no changes versus energy efficiency investments.
·         Consider your public image – strong leadership in energy efficiency demonstrating your commitment to sustainability, conserving energy and saving the environment.

Many organizations see cash flow as a major obstacle to energy efficiency projects especially in tough economic times. The good news is there are multiple resources. For example, Con Edison, offers a variety of incentive programs – Con Edison’s Green Team  has many programs that can help reduce the cost of energy, like the Commercial and Industrial (C&I) Energy Efficiency Program (

The C&I program offers a number of financing incentives through rebates and other means to promote energy efficiency retrofits and installations.  The incentives typically cover standard energy efficiency equipment for lighting and lighting controls, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), furnace, boilers and other gas equipment, motors, variable frequency drive (VFDs), and DDC/controls.  These programs may also allow for customized measures. 

In most cases, financing can be structured so that the projects can be repaid from energy savings, negating the need for upfront capital. Check with your utility to see what opportunities are available. A good energy service company can guide your organization, offering special financing while the government provides tax credits and low interest loans for energy efficiency projects.

For the New York metro area and Westchester County, contact the Con Edison Green Team and the C&I Energy Efficiency Program to assist with your energy efficiency needs.  For more information, visit or call 1-877-797-6347.

Caption: Meet the Green Team's Business Development Group. From left to right: Tom Cunneen, Business Development Lead; Steve Morris;  Cindy Nardiello; Arthur Pearson; Judy Stasack; Lauren Morin; Frank Lynch; Tom Lewis; Warren Gary; David Paige; Adam Carnegie; Dan Deleon. Not present: George Sakelaris

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