Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

Social Energy

November 17th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

They said it couldn’t be done. But ConduitNW, an online watering hole for energy efficiency professionals, has nearly 1,000 members since launching in May of this year. As Sustainable Business Oregon reported last week:

Led by [Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance] NEEA in partnership with the Bonneville Power Administration, Conduit was built and will operate through 2014 on a $1.25 million budget, about $400,000 of that dedicated to development costs.

The BPA contributed a separate grant, in addition to the startup website’s group of utility funders, to get ConduitNW up and running. The two agencies have been working for the last two years on the project.

The new social media site – which is a mix of LinkedIn, Facebook Groups (from way back when?) and Google Docs – gained some social media cred recently when it stole what would have been serious Twitter thunder from this year’s Efficiency Connections Northwest 2011 held in Tacoma, WA.

This is what a futurist looks like.

[BTW: the conference featured David Zach (who’s job title is “Futurist.” WTF, what a great title. Apparently there are only a few on the planet). The other Keynote Speaker was L. Hunter Lovins, Author of Climate Capitalism: Capitalism in the Age of Climate Change.]

Though ConduitNW’s main target for the site is the 150 nationwide utilities working toward energy efficiency, it also attacts a number of contractors and “impementers,” according to NEEA’s online community manager, Ben Fowler. The site came out of a call for collaboration by utility execs to state govenors in 2008, according to a BPA public utilities specialist in energy efficiency.

At ConduitNW, you can catch up on industry news as well as upcoming energy-related and NEEA events. Browse by sector, function, topic or group, receive email notifications and share information with colleagues through document sharing.

And of course, upload a great profile pic.

Sidenote: Have you checked out “A Profitable and Resource-Efficient Future,” the new report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) yet? The ever-vigilant EarthTechling picked it up and spit it back out to us this week:

According to to the report, commercial buildings are responsible for about 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and, in some countries, 70 percent of electrical consumption. Nearly one-half of all energy consumed by buildings could be avoided with new energy-efficient systems and equipment, and the energy savings would exceed the cost of upgrades, generally within five years or less, the report said.

MSCA Musings: Following Up After the Conference

October 27th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Guest post by Jim Crowder, BuildingAdvice CEO, as excerpted from last week’s Building Monitor e-newsletter. If you would like to receive the Building Monitor in the future, you can sign up here.

We just returned from the Annual MSCA Educational Conference in beautiful Colorado Springs. It was a well organized event chock full of useful sessions that will help members improve their performance.

It also marked the passing of the Association leadership torch from Thom Brazel, Hill York, to Woody Woodall, W.L. Gary Company.

Thom helped drive association awareness of the opportunity energy services provides the HVAC industry. Under his leadership, and with the support of Barb Dolim’s MSCA staff, Thom helped create a new vision for the MSCA GreenSTAR program that will help members incorporate energy solutions into their core service offerings. Not only is the association planning to provide tools, but they are developing an impressive training program to educate members.

We at BuildingAdvice applaud Thom and the rest of the association for providing the leadership the industry needs to make commercial building owners and operators aware of how valuable HVACs can be in helping to eliminate energy waste in commercial buildings.

No industry is better positioned to provide these types of services to commercial buildings. Energy expenses represent 30% of the controllable operating cost of a building. HVAC and lighting combined typically constitute about 75% of the total energy spend.

BuildingAdvice CEO Jim Crowder

So, who can deliver real, measurable value to building owners? It’s not the janitors or the elevator guys! We look forward to working with Woody, Barb and the rest of the MSCA team as they move into this lucrative field.

Building Advisor’s Note: Have you seen the MSCA’s new YouTube channel? Check out their first video below.

Why The Building Advisor Loves ULI, Too

September 7th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Rachel Headings on a dream date with ULI

So, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) is really smart. Last summer they launched a video contest – the very directly aimed “Why I Love ULI Video Contest” – and recently announced the winners in advance of the organization’s Fall Meeting and Urban Land Expo in Los Angeles, Calif. coming up October 25-28. Best of all, ULI posted the most contest entries on their YouTube channel, ULITV. Brilliant!

And other than the fact that it’s hard to find really good videos having to do with building performance, here’s why ULI isn’t really off topic for The Building Advisor: the Urban Land Institute provides leadership in the responsible use of land, and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. This membership organization supports real estate professionals, including contractors, at the local, national and global levels with regard to best practices, industry news, land use development, and a free exchange of ideas.

But Rob Voigt explains it way better.

Joanna Todaro puts it all poetically to a sweetly animated, adorably scored video that articulates the HVAC related virtues of ULI: bridging professionals and social responsibility. And watching Rachel Headings fall in love with a personified ULI is nothing short of a mini romcom.

Now, Stephanie Darden kinda stole The Building Advisor’s heart with this one. Why? Because hugging a building is what it feels like when you’re happy that it’s functioning as energy efficiently as possible. And for the dog who makes a cameo.

But the winner is – well, telling in that it got the most likes on ULI’s Facebook Page. Man I Love ULI — submitted by Varun Sharma of Toronto, Ontario – will thump its way into your heart. Sharma is a gangsta of love, this much is clear. He will be awarded a one year ULI Young Leader (less than 35 years) or Associate Membership, along with an all-expense paid trip to the 2011 ULI Fall Meeting and Urban Land Expo, October 25 – 28 in Los Angeles.

Read more about the content and winners at the ULI Live! website, dedicated to the organization’s Fall Meeting and Urban Land Expo in Los Angeles, Calif. October 25-28.

Energy Papers for HVAC Contractors Cover Rebates, Myths

June 3rd, 2011 by Jim Crowder

exploiting rebates quarterly whitepaperThis week we posted some fresh, informative papers to the BuildingAdvice website. Both papers represent the first installments of a couple of series of papers covering topics we find HVAC contractors want the most information about.

The first series is Exploiting Rebates Quarterly, which explains how utility rebate programs work, what rebates are available in various states, and how to use energy service platforms to take advantage of them. The first paper, “Rebate Basics,” discusses leveraging rebates for a shorter payback with a competitive edge.

Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, Hosts of The Discovery Channel's "Mythbusters." Ok, we kind of want to be like them.

Another series of papers takes on common misconceptions about energy services. We’re calling it – with all due respect to our peeps at the Discovery Channel – our Mythbuster Bulletin Series, starting with Myth #1: “Energy Costs Can’t Be Controlled.” In it, we break down why costs can be controlled and discuss the most common causes of energy waste within a building.

It’s a prevalent belief that utilities represent either fixed or insignificant costs in building operation budgets, but that doesn’t make it true. In fact, energy costs can be controlled by optimizing building operations and controls. While there are opportunities to improve performance through retrofit projects, in the majority of buildings, the way that building equipment is being operated or programmed is often what wastes the greatest amount of money. The key to dispelling the myth is providing owners with measurement and hard data to quantify the waste and, ultimately, the savings that can be generated.

- Mythbuster Bulletin Series, “Energy Costs Can’t Be Controlled”

At our downloads page you’ll also find recaps of our latest, highly popular webinar series for your viewing (or re-viewing) pleasure: Part 1, Building A Winning Energy Services Team and Part 2, Targeting Your Existing Customer Base. Part 3 was webcast earlier this week and will be posted to the website soon.

dexter horton building in Seattle, mandatory benchmarking

The Dexter Horton Building, Seattle, Wash.

In other news this week, greentech enterprise ran a great article on mandatory energy benchmarking legislation, touched off by Seattle’s Dexter Horton building and the citywide enforcement of mandatory energy benchmarking and reporting for all commercial buildings over 10,000 square feet.

The article also links to a great energy efficiency information resource,, which hosts an online library of resources such as a document library with U.S. and global policy summaries, impact analyses, and rating systems and tools. As well as a neat blog.

And speaking of great energy-focused blogs like ourselves, be sure to check out the panoply of blog offerings through Energy Central. Did you know that you can even customize the Energy Central Professional Daily newsletter you get from Energy Central by logging on to the “personalization” tab at Just check and uncheck preferences to customize your newsletter to get the information most pertinent to you.

Images courtesy and

The Better Buildings Initiative

February 9th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Last week, the Obama administration announced an initiative to boost energy efficiency in commercial buildings. The “Better Buildings Initiative” calls to reform tax incentives for commercial building retrofits and create a competitive grant program to further incentivize energy efficiency.

Speaking at Penn State University, Obama said, “Making our buildings more energy efficient is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to save money, combat pollution and create jobs right here in the United States of America.”

We, of course, couldn’t agree more. We may be biased (because BuildingAdvice finds energy savings opportunities in existing buildings), but focusing on making existing buildings more efficient also just makes sense: When there are already 5 million commercial buildings in the U.S. and most have at least 30% energy savings opportunities possible, why would we (as an industry, a country) attack this first?

In an effort to increase financing opportunities for small businesses looking to improve their energy efficiency, the Small Business Administration is working with lenders to promote energy efficiency retrofit loans. In combination with new tax incentives for building efficiency, increased financing opportunities could lead to an uptick in interest in retrofitting existing buildings.

In addition to cutting energy use 20% by 2020, the new initiatives also aim to reduce the energy bills of building owners by $40 billion per year.

So, what could this mean for you?

If you’re a contractor, financing opportuities for your clients mean a great likelihood that service and projects will go fowrad. Of course, this requires that you actually have energy service offerings.

If you’re a building owner or manager, you will soon be able to find more ways to finance investments you want to make that will lead to lower costs and higher-value buildings.

The ENERGY STAR Challenge

July 29th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

Buildings use about $200 billion worth of electricity and natural gas each year.  What if we could cut just 10% of commercial buildings’ energy consumption?  Very reasonable, wouldn’t you agree?  That would be $20 billion in savings!

That’s what’s at stake in the new ENERGY STAR Challenge:  Building owners, managers, and service providers working to achieve just a 10% drop in energy use.

Here is what we’re encouraged to do:

  • Measure and track energy use.  (Energy benchmarking…the easy way to get started.  We can help you.)
  • Develop a plan for energy improvements.
  • Make energy efficiency upgrades.
  • Help spread the energy efficiency word to others.

A toolkit is available at ENERGY STAR’s website, which provides all sorts of collateral and resources, including sample text for communications, a presentation, certificates, web banners, posters, and more.

What’s great about this goal is its attainability.  10% is nothing.  Seriously.  Through low & no cost measures alone, you should be able to save MORE than 10%.  So, join the challenge.  If you are a contractor, this is a great way to elevate your position with clients and prospects – tell them that you can knock off at least 10% of their energy bill and get them recognized through ENERGY STAR in the process.

Energy Sales Webinar Starts Tomorrow

July 21st, 2010 by Jim Crowder

Final reminder that our next free webinar series, “Energize Your Service and Retrofit Sales,” starts tomorrow. This three-part series offers HVAC contractors concise sales strategy on using BuildingAdvice to build business. You can register in under 1 minute here.  Topics include:

Part 1: Use Energy Services to Ensure Maintenance Agreement Renewals

Thursday, July 22, 2010 1:00pm Eastern (10:00am Pacific)

Understanding your service business metrics. What are energy services and how do they fit into a planned maintenance program? What to do in advance of your service renewal date. Meeting with your client prior to next service date anniversary. Qualifying your customers’ interest with automated ENERGY STAR™ benchmarking. Adding energy services to existing service agreements.

Part 2: Winning New Service Business With Energy as the Differentiator

Thursday, July 29, 2010 1:00pm Eastern (10:00am Pacific)

Sales management: getting your team ready. Targeting prospects who you can help with your energy services. Getting a meeting with the right person. Successful prospect meetings. Qualifying prospects up-front with energy benchmarking. Selling an energy assessment. Writing winning proposals.

Part 3: Use Energy Services to Drive Project Revenue

Thursday, August 5, 2010 1:00pm Eastern (10:00am Pacific)

Targeting the right accounts and the discovery meeting. How to ensure retrofits continue to drive savings. Monitoring and verification. Selling an energy audit, closing retrofits using the audit report and partnering with your local utility.

If you’re considering adding energy management to your company’s service offerings or are looking to improve an existing energy service offering, start with this educational series on starting an energy management conversation and building valuable client relationships through a focus on energy cost savings. Register for free here.

How has BuildingAdvice helped other contractors? Read MacDonald-Miller Finds BuildingAdvice Perfect Fit for Energy Efficiency in Small to Midsize Buildings.

Existing Buildings Have ‘huge untapped’ Potential for Energy Efficiency Savings, Study Finds

July 16th, 2010 by Jim Crowder
los angeles skyline

80% of these babies' energy use is useless.

“Up to 80 percent of commercial building energy is going up in smoke,” said F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10, an independent organization that supports research, education and action to improve California.

Next 10 has issued a new study, “Untapped Potential of Commercial Buildings: Energy Use and Emissions,” which suggests that energy use by commercial buildings could be reduced by up to 80 percent through energy efficiency measures, based on national averages. The full report is available here.

noel perry next10

That's right, F. Noel Perry said it: you're wasting your energy

Green and mainstream pubs have jumped on Thursday’s report, from Environmental Leader (“Commercial Buildings Guzzle 37% of CA’s Energy”) to the San Francisco Chronicle’s blog The Thin Green Line, which wrote:

“Indeed, an average building’s energy use can be cut by half just with low-cost, low-tech improvements to lighting and insulation.”

Next10‘s study points out that behavioral changes, or tenant use (adjusting lighting schedule, etc.) in commercial buildings can provide energy savings at very low costs. It is nice to see BuildingAdvice’s tried and true “low- and no-cost savings adjustments” line is truly a viable claim.

It’s real, folks: there are cash saving things you can do for your building that don’t cost anything.


Unlock that savings.

GreenerBuildings pulls out the point that while there is an emphasis on energy efficiency in new construction, it is actually existing building stock that represents the biggest potential for energy reduction, yet remains largely unaddressed by state legislation.

The GreenBiz blog writes, “California’s commitment to reducing electricity consumption of state-operated buildings by 20 percent by 2015 covers new and existing structures. Certain voluntary measures in the state’s Green Building Standards Code, known as CALGreen, are scheduled to become mandatory in January 2011 for new commercial and residential construction. But there is no equivalent that applies to existing buildings.”

Images courtesy of, Next10, Kewal Gala’s photostream on flickr, and inhabitat.

From All Sides: Three Energy Efficient Wins

July 15th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

Quick, what do these three articles have in common?

Mandatory Energy Efficiency in Australia is On

All these buildings will need to report their energy efficiency ratings.

Commercial property owners must prepare for new regulations (

Australia prepares for its Commercial Building Disclosure scheme, dictating that owners and lessors of commercial office space of 2,000 m2 or more must disclose the energy efficiency rating to prespective buyers and tenants when the space is sold, leased or subleased (similar to California’s laws passed January 1, 2010).

Healthcare REIT takes Energy Star Challenge

Taking Energy Star Challenge

Health Care REIT, Inc. Partners with EPA’s ENERGY STAR Program (Financial Post)

The aptly named Health Care REIT has got on the EPA’s Energy Star Challenge bandwagon, planing to improve its overall energy efficiency by 10% or more through energy benchmarking, following a resulting plan consistent with Energy Star guidelines, and spreading the gospel.

HVAC Awareness: Is Your HVAC System Energy Efficient? (

Chiller maintenance for greater energy efficiency

Chiller maintenance in action.

Blog underdog came out of nowhere with a very concise post on how supersized chillers / fans and inefficient oil, electric and gas boilers “lead to a building incurring thousands of unnecessary dollars in annual utility costs.”

Thousands of unnecessary dollars, the man says.

Ok, the answer to “What do these three articles have in common?” is: not a lot, in some ways, which is kind of the point.

Energy efficiency should be topping your radar BECAUSE the forces behind it are coming from such disparate places. These articles represent reasons to increase energy efficiency for reasons of legality, corporate leadership, and cost savings.

Also check out’s excellent post, “Four Reasons Not to Avoid Scheduling an Energy Audit of Your Building.”

But only if you’re ready to face your fears.

the scream by edward munch

"No! Not an energy audit! I'm afraid of what I'll find!"

Images courtesy ChinatownConnection,, Just Venting, Goodway’s HVAC industry blog (best blog name ever), and

Portland, Ore: NYT Dubs Us ‘Icon of Sustainability’

July 9th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

portland or, the greenest city in US?This week, the New York Times called our little old hometown of Portland, Ore. a city of “green-economy trailblazers,” “a hotbed for small and progressive green-technology companies that might not have the resources or reach yet to capitalize internationally,” and the proposed Oregon Sustainability Center “a big, green stake in the ground for the next generation.”

Ok, so those quotes all came from stakeholders in the massive public/private partnership at the center of the article, “Bold Public-Private Venture Aims to Make Ore. City an ‘Icon of Sustainability.”

But hey. If we don’t tell people about our global leadership in sustainability, how else will they know? General Electric Co. (GE) is excited about it, and its partnership with the City of Portland announced this month now includes the Portland Development Commission and the Oregon Sustainability Center:

portland's springwater corridor“Mayor Sam Adams and General Electric Co. executives are forging a first-of-its-kind partnership that will include retrofitting drafty buildings with energy-saving technologies and helping local startups sell their clean-technology products abroad. GE, the global industrial conglomerate, will also help the “Rose City” bring to life five ‘EcoDistrict’ pilot projects — enclaves that would manage their own energy, water, waste and other systems — as well as build, perhaps, the world’s greenest office building.”

Whew! Do we have plans. Though The Building Advisor poked a bit of fun, the PDC’s EcoDistricts sound fantastic – think of a district of sustainable buildings sharing municipal systems, rather than just a stand alone green building here or there.

And while the Oregon Sustainability Center sounds cool, so too do the plug-in electric vehicle stations, building energy-monitoring systems and other “ecomagination” products GE has planned. GE sought Portland out for this public-private partnership, and plans to help local companies license and sell their products.

Kevin Decker, who coordinates these types of public private partnerships for GE, said “We’ll leverage our supply chain and knowledge of foreign markets to help local businesses license or sell their technologies.”

Originally published on Greenwire.

Images from Destination 360 and David A’s Photos’ photostream on Flickr.