Posts Tagged ‘Energy services’

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.

Thoughts from Time Spent in Market

September 29th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

At BuildingAdvice we try to spend time in the market whenever possible so we can see firsthand the effects that energy efficiency has on everyday building owners and operators, as well as the HVAC contractors and other service providers who are helping them to achieve this efficiency. Last week I had the benefit of making such a trip, going out on sales calls with HVAC contractors, and here are a few of the lessons that I learned:

Saving money on energy is attainable. In every appointment that I went on the savings opportunities were all over the board. In most cases it was noticeably cold in several of the facilities (they were over-cooling on a warm California day), causing energy and comfort complaints. The great thing was that there were a ton of “low to no cost” fixes that were apparent even before doing an Energy Assessment. In most of these appointments, that was not known to the building operator or owner, and yet savings of 5-30% are available with no to low cost fine tuning of the building.

Energy savings is meaningful. In each appointment the topic of saving money on energy was extremely important to the building owner or manager. Although I know that we at BuildingAdvice have a hand in saving the end customer money, it was nice to experience it in person. In today’s economy every dollar counts and with energy taking up approx. 30% of buildings’  operating costs, that is a lot of money saved.

Energy savings is powerful. Pardon the pun, but energy savings is powerful. It has the power to improve profitability, to save jobs, to allow projects to go forward, to fund new research, the list is endless. Remember that with every dollar saved your company not only has more cash available but you are improving the asset value of the building in the process! This is powerful.

I also began to think a little more about why more building owners and managers are not jumping onto the energy efficiency bandwagon? You can make the changes for little to no cost; the savings go right to the bottom line. You increase the asset value of your building and you help the environment all at once. It seems like a no-brainer to me… How about you?

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.

Wolin Mechanical Meets Energy Efficiency Provider AirAdvice: “Frankly, I’m having a hard time keeping up with customer demand…”

June 3rd, 2010 by Jim Crowder

We’ve been around for 90 years,” says Dave Stroh, co-owner of Wolin Mechanical Electrical in West Des Moines, Ia. “We know what affects operations.”

Dave’s a straight shooter. And what he’s talking about is the difference between a free energy assessment from a utility company, which might measure power usage and draw, versus BuildingAdvice’s ability to reduce energy costs in the commercial buildings he services by making specific recommendations for adjustments and improvements.

Dave, who added electrical services to Wolin Mechanical after purchasing the business in 1996, acquired the BuildingAdvice program seven months ago. By April, his BuildingAdvice sensors were booked out three months in advance. He told The Building Advisor, “Frankly, I’m having a hard time keeping up with customer demand for energy services as a result of running BuildingAdvice’s Energy Assessment Reports. It just sets the table for everything.”

As Dave says, the Energy Savings Assessment report says to his customers, “here’s how we can help you.” How does he know it’s working? “They can see it in energy bills. I see it in smiles, in dollars, and in repeat business.”

Preventive Maintenance services aren’t like a yard, Dave explains. You can’t see that it’s mowed when you’re done. “But, with BuildingAdvice, I’m able to quantify and show how beneficial these services are,” he explains. “It’s the ability to put a tangible into an intangible market.”

“None of my peers offer anything like this,” he adds. “Our building managers have been thrilled with the results.”

Another thing Dave’s happy about is the customer service he gets through the BuildingAdvice support team. Dave reports to always being able to reach a customer service representative on the phone, and most often gets the answer he needs while he has that person on the phone – not 24 hours or more later. “From the top down, the BuildingAdvice culture is really customer service oriented,” says Dave. “I’m really impressed with where the rubber meets the road.”

Dave Stroh is co-owner of Wolin Mechanical Electrical in West Des Moines, IA. Image courtesy Wolin Mechanical Electrical.

New program brings energy cost savings to service agreements

September 30th, 2009 by Jim Crowder

BuildingAdvice has recently released an update to its BuildingAdvice technology for providing energy services in commercial buildings.  On the surface, it may not sound like a major update – it is a new report, called an Energy Savings Assessment, that can be run using the system.  What makes this a giant step forward is how the new report now enables a cost-cutting, highly valuable service to be provided as part of a service agreement or service relationship.

In the tumultuous economic environment of the commercial real estate industry, cost savings are king.  Rent cannot be raised.  Occupancy cannot be increased.  And credit, which is so crucial to the industry, is extremely tight.  Cash must be conserved.  And one of the largest cash outflows month-to-month is the utility bill.  Mechanical service contractors can lower this cash outflow by making changes that result in lower energy consumption.   And this can be done as part of ongoing, regular maintenance agreements.

But don’t call them regular maintenance agreements.  These are Energy Service Agreements.  And the whole point is to go beyond what’s normally provided in a maintenance agreement and focus on ways to reduce the amount of wasted energy in the building.  This is the basis for the program that BuildingAdvice released recently and why the new Energy Savings Assessment report was created.  It fits into a process for providing energy services to buildings, including benchmarking and energy assessments.

Read the press release about the new product and program.

Shut off the PC, you are wasting $$$$$$$

March 25th, 2009 by Lucas Klesch

According to the 2009 PC Energy Report being published today by 1E and the Alliance to Save Energy, US companies waste 2.8 Billion dollars and emit 20 Million Tons of Carbon Dioxide per year by not turing off their PCs and other electronic devices at night.  This is the equivelent of 4 Million cars on the road and reflects a significant conservation opportunitity.

On top of that, saving this money would drop to the bottom line of a companies operating costs and in these tough economic times this is where the focus should be.  The idea of energy reduction as an operational focus for an organization is the triple win win win.  You save money, you help the environment and everyone involved feels good about it!

Why doesn’t it happen more?  The report states the obvious that most of the energy field already knows,  that employee’s do not feel any pain or awareness of the cost of the energy bill.  There is very little ownership and responsibility to use the resource wisely.  Showing employee’s how much energy their work habits are consuming and costing the company is a first place to start.  Effective management starts with knowing where you are at, and ends with actions to reduce usage to needed levels.

The Simple Case for Data Center Energy Benchmarking

March 18th, 2009 by Lucas Klesch

Lawrence Berkeley National Labs threw out a statistic that stated data center energy costs can be 100 times higher than those of typical buildings.  Another statistic thrown around by EPA is that data centers accounted for 1.5% of overall US electrical spend in 2006 and it is expected to increase by 1% or more by 2011.  Poor energy efficiency can obviously have a dramatic effect on the bottom line, reduce the competitiveness of the data center and may even reduce up time which is so crucial to the data world.

Typically data centers have been reluctant to participate in Benchmarking of energy performance through EnergyStar because they do not want to document how costly poor data center management and design is, and they fear the looming carbon tax through cap and trade.  It is understandable that the industry is concerned about being an open book for criticism given some of the real constraints on server rooms in terms of temperature control, power reliability and particulate reduction.  Being from an industry that needs data and servers to work flawlessly every minute of every day, we understand this, but every one already knows you are typically a high energy user.

The good news is that starting at Benchmarking and allocation of energy end uses within a building with data centers, we can understand how energy is used and begin to clean up the inefficiencies. Benchmarking is a tool for understanding across an organization and can serve these important purposes:

  1. to establish a baseline of typical energy use
  2. to provide comparison to similar facilities
  3. to highlight improvement opportunities
  4. to highlight maintenance and operating issues
  5. to highlight best practices for future improvements

In this day and age it should be universally understand that awareness, i.e. know where you are at, always leads to a better place.  Energy cost reduction drops to the bottom line and in the case of data centers can reduce inefficient operation, provide more uptime and customer satisfaction, and positions you for the future where that energy savings translates to less carbon use and cash through trading on an open market.  Its almost like double-dipping on the profits from energy reduction.  How can that be bad?

EnergyStar and climate change updates!

March 13th, 2009 by Lucas Klesch

Following up on the recent EnergyStar update last week, a couple of known changes are coming this summer that are very good news.  The EPA will be updating the EnergyStar service to include a rating for Worship Service halls, also known as churchs.  They will also be continuing the updates to the new 2003 Building Energy data known as CBECs, specifically for the building type Warehouse.

The Climate Change Congress 2009 in Coopenhagen Denmark came to an end on March 12th with some stinging messages for political leaders across the world in advance of their meeting in December in Coopenhagen to deal with the Kyoto Protocol expiration in 2012.

The group of almost 2000 scientists of world reknown are calling upon policy-makers to use all tools available to reduce dangerous emissions of greenhouse gases since these scientists have begun to observe their predictions of two years ago are coming true.

Temperatures, sea levels, acid levels in oceans and ice sheets were already moving “beyond the patterns of natural variability within which our society and economy have developed and thrived,” the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in a report released Thursday.

This is good news since we have an administration in place now that is dedicated to reducing green house gases while creating new “green” energy jobs in the process.  Hopefully Congress will get moving on the Carbon Dioxide Cap and Trade program so further incentives can be placed around reducing energy use in buildings.

EnergyStar unveils top rated cities!

March 6th, 2009 by Lucas Klesch

On March 3rd, the EPA unveiled the top 25 cities in America that have the most EnergyStar Rated buildings. The list is headed by Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Washington, D.C., Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis-St Paul, Atlanta and Seattle.

“Energy Star buildings typically use 35 percent less energy and emit 35 percent less greenhouse gases than average buildings,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “EPA commends all of these cities and all of the others, as well as countless individuals, who are now using more energy efficient appliances and dwellings. They are saving energy, saving money and protecting our environment.”

To see the full list click here:

In other EnergyStar news, they have made some changes to the choice of buildings that can have a rating by condensing the very confusing list of of hotels into one category and also sneaking in multi-family housing.  Once they update their documentation of default parameters and issue guidelines on these changes, we will let you know.

Being a leader in mechanical contracting today

March 3rd, 2009 by Jim Crowder

“Leaders among mechanical contractors can help their clients by becoming leaders in energy management, green building, and sustainable practices.”  That is the message from a recent article in ACHR News.

Contractors who are making the connection for their clients between their maintenance service and cost savings are going to be viewed as value-added partners.  Some call it their Green Program, others their Energy Saving Maintenance Plan.  The general idea is the same – “Since mechanical systems account for most of a building’s energy consumption, it’s not uncommon to find that the energy savings alone will sometimes pay for most, or even all, of the cost difference between a basic maintenance program and a green maintenance investment, says Ed Sokol of Grodsky Service (Massachusets, Connecticut.) That’s step 1 – adopting the proper mindset, a marketing mindset which speaks to the core benefits of services.

Step 2 is identifying and getting in front of the building’s decision makers, and learning the financial language they use when considering proposals for service or projects.  This is more important than ever.  Typically the right person is the owner, CFO or VP of finance, purchasing manager, or facility manager.

And step 3 is to make energy assessments, energy analysis, or building performance assessments part of every day business.  Building owners or managers need to have their contractor understand how their building uses energy and how it could use less of it through adjustments in operations and maintenance, as well as equipment upgrades and other measures.  Without a tool to guide this effort, you’re shooting in the dark.

Put these 3 together and you have a mechanical service department that is truly serving the needs of your clients.