“Do” energy the right way - by Marc Karell

October 27, 2015 - Green Buildings
Marc Karell, Climate Change & Environmental Services Marc Karell, Climate Change & Environmental Services

More and more managers are getting it. There has literally been a revolution in energy technology in just the last four years for upgrades of equipment that will function as well, but use a lot less energy, for great cost savings. Returns on investment of 15%, 20%, and more per year can be achieved by a smart upgrade. Much better than you can get at a bank or on Wall Street, with no risk! If you don’t have the upfront money to procure and install the upgrade, no worries; financial firms, knowing these returns, will fight for your business with low interest loans arranged and positive cash flow at all times.

However, some building managers want to get the savings right away. Just go to the store, buy some new lights or other items and just replace in kind for the reduced usage without determining the building’s needs or applications. A big and costly mistake! To get the most out of energy upgrades you need to take a deeper look at your building. Building functions change over time. People are moved to different areas; different activities occur; different equipment brought in. Therefore, your energy needs and demand and the focus of your upgrade will change over time, too.

It is important to take the time when you decide to make your energy upgrade to plan beforehand. For example, is the lighting you have now right for your workers, shoppers, etc.? Is the right amount of light being applied to desks or to product being sold, etc., and less in other areas (but enough to be safe)? Just lowering wattage for the same amount of lumens will not help or enhance your operations. It is also important to invest money in lighting design. Bring in a professional lighting designer or one with experience in this area (there is now a new Certification in Lighting Design: CLD). Yes, you’ll spend some additional money, but you’ll definitely get it back in improved sales, greater productivity, and less stressed employees, etc., in addition to your energy cost savings. Get the right professionals involved early for other energy upgrades, too.

In fact, it is also critical to get the right people involved in your initial energy evaluation or audit, as well. The Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) has many certification programs for professionals in the energy area, including Certified Energy Managers (CEMs), Certified Energy Auditors (CEAs), and retrocommissioning professionals (EBCP). I am a CEM and an EBCP, and I can tell you the training and amount of info I had to learn to pass the exams was great and comprehensive.  In fact, AEE programs are gaining greater respect in the energy world, as CEM is the first program to receive recognition from the US DOE as aligning with their Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines and has also achieved ANSI accreditation.

This recognition elevates the importance of the CEM credential for evaluating your property. You should make sure that you don’t do your energy upgrade yourself or use just a run-of-the-mill person who claims to be an energy expert. At a minimum, the professional who oversees your energy upgrades should have a CEM or CEA certification. After all, you would not go to someone to do your taxes who is not experienced and certified, right? You would not go to a doctor or dentist for advice on a health matter who is not properly degreed and trained, right? Therefore, you should only trust your energy management with the great cost savings and productivity gain potential to experienced, recognized professionals.

CCES has the expertise and experience to perform comprehensive professional energy assessments and audits for diverse building types to provide a complete picture of not just your current energy usage, but also provide multiple energy conservation measures to help you reduce usage and demand and maximum benefits, through incentives and financing, as well.

Marc Karell, P.E., CEM, EBCP, is the president of Climate Change & Environmental Services, LLC, Mamaroneck, N.Y.

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