It’s one thing to shake an 85-page engineer’s report at a board meeting and say, “this is what we need to do!” and have everyone nod in agreement.
It’s another thing to actually do it.
Miss that implementation, and you’ve wasted your time, your managers’ time, and the shareholders’ time. So, how do you guide your strategic energy management efforts toward completion rather than leave it as one more forgotten time-sink?
What’s the Point of Strategic Energy Management?
Building owners and operators have a lot to do when it comes to commercial properties, whether they’re individual owners, asset managers, property managers, or condo boards.
- Keeping operating costs down — including energy
- Achieving, maintaining, and optimizing building efficiency
- Managing the well-being of the users or residents
- Keeping people happy with the conditions of the space
It’s a complicated balance. Of course, heating is expensive, but you’d have angry users calling you if the building gets too cold. Increasing your building efficiency might sound like a great idea, but you have to be assured that the expensive, disruptive work it takes to do so will deliver the right payoff over an acceptable time period.
Nonetheless, many commercial buildings, from office to retail to warehouse to light industrial, stand to benefit from a more energy efficient approach — and all should have a strategic energy management plan. Energy is one of the prime operational costs for all buildings and understanding your long-term goals and working to constantly improve and run as efficiently as possible is nothing to ignore.
Three Steps for Commercial Building Energy Management Success
1: Measure What’s Actually Happening
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Understanding the current state of your building is your first step. You need to get extremely granular on this and note every source of consumption, every point of leakage, identify your aging equipment and infrastructure, and understand how the lack of potential efficiency affects your day-to-day operation.
This should involve a full building walkthrough with your energy efficiency partner and getting an energy assessment drawn up. If your ultimate goal is — as it should be — to actually get this thing done, then a solid foundation is of the utmost importance.
A comprehensive study of the problem will alleviate later problems in getting the proposal approved — and the entire project will be more successful if it fully accounts for every significant variable. The right partner will help you get familiar with the issues and the solutions.
2: Review and Move Forward on Recommendations
This stage is fraught with pitfalls and roadblocks that get in the way of your ultimate goal: implementation.
Engage with these difficulties. There are so many reasons not to do things, but those reasons don’t stand up to scrutiny. Obviously, your various financial stakeholders will want to know that the cost is worth the expense, so make sure you understand how proposed new systems will reduce costs — and when.
Some may be unfamiliar with new technologies, such as heat recovery, variable frequency drives, LED lighting, and controls. Some may be operating off outdated assumptions that are no longer true. Take the time to clearly show how the proposed measures will work. There are often examples of buildings in similar circumstances that have excelled when installing these kinds of technologies, and you can use these examples to build trust in the process.
Natural Resources Canada notes that a deep retrofit can save up to 60 per cent of your energy costs, and even retro-commissioning for an existing building can save 22 percent of energy costs with a 1.1 year payback period.
The question of how a more sustainable, energy efficient building will make you look is not without value. Whether it’s the public, potential customers, or potential investors, people respond positively to businesses that show they take sustainability seriously. That will translate to how they use the building, how they feel about the building, and how they do business with the entities the building houses. The optics are important.
This is a transitional stage between the investigation and the implementation, where you’ll have to take the recommendations and devise a means of moving forward with decision-makers on board.
3: Implement Your Changes
The critical final step- whose completion plagues far too many energy project proposals- is simply implementation.
If you’ve followed the previous two steps closely, you’ve gotten that approval and are indeed able to complete your project. As you fight through those previous two steps, keep this in mind: it will be worth it. If you can’t follow through, you haven’t solved the problem.
Your energy costs won’t go anywhere just because you measured them. Your inefficiencies haven’t been dealt with just because you have identified them. The people occupying the building are no happier just because you talked about improvements. Every day you operate in your inefficient state is a day you waste operating budget.
The Financial Question
One particular roadblock that does deter many building operators from following through on an energy management plan is the question of how to pay for it all.
The numbers may clearly show a reliable ROI can be expected, but there’s still the upfront cost of all that implementation. That cost could be significant enough to derail the entire process. The hassle of securing the financing has been the cause of many failed energy projects, and thus, a whole lot of ongoing waste.
This is where your energy efficiency supplier will either fail as a strategic partner — or shine. At Vital Group, we refuse to leave our customers out in the cold. Our focus has always been in leading organizations toward realising their energy savings. We don’t just step away if financing will be an issue.
Instead, we can show you how to turn that costly capital expense into an operating expense that spreads the capital cost over a long period – while reducing operating costs from day one of your project.
We specialize in saving costs at all costs. Want to know what kind of financing plan enables a holistic energy management strategy- from conception to implementation- while minimizing cost?
Drop us a line and let’s get started in transforming your commercial property!