Posts Tagged ‘Johnson Controls’

Urban Cowboys, Going Deeper with EEI

September 22nd, 2011 by Jim Crowder

UrbanLand Magazine recently turned out a thoughtful analysis, Energy Efficiency Markets Evolve Globally, of The 2011 Energy Efficiency Indicator (EEI) , the fifth time a global survey of real estate decision makers has been conducted by Johnson Controls. For the first time, ULI got into the research fracas with Johnson Controls, to analyze and release the results. The Building Advisor touched on the EEI a couple weeks back in Summer HVAC Wrap + BetterBricks Video, but nobody does serious data like ULI.

If you’re not familiar, the EEI is the last word, the “state of the union,” if you will, gauging the hearts and minds of of global executives and building owners responsible for energy management and investment decisions in commercial and public sector buildings. This year, the EEI surveyed 4,000 respondents in 13 countries on six continents and was conducted in eight languages. That’s a lot of bubbles to fill in completely with a #2 pencil!

‘Extremely’ or ‘Very’: Energy Efficiency Makes the Big Time

What you probably already know: as many as seven in ten executives globally say energy management is extremely important or very important to their organizations. Execs have pursued an average of nine different energy efficiency measures in the past year.

And what’s motivating them? Simply put, the rising cost of energy. We all know energy costs will keep on rising. It’s sort of like gravity – you can pretty much count on it. Up significantly in importance from 2010, however, is government incentives. With over half the states offering some kind of financial incentive for efficiency measures, execs are now listening. It’s sort of like getting cash back at the grocery store on a big ticket item: why not? Third biggest motivator was to enhance the branding of a building.

In fact, interest in certified green buildings doubled from 2010 and for the first time, certification efforts are more prevalent for existing buildings than new ones. Lower on the motivational list: reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, domestic energy security, and other government policies.

Now, the challenges: while the graphic to the left shows that 67% of executives surveyed report that they have allocated capital from their operating budget to energy efficiency in the last year, (yay!) significant market barriers to pursuing further investment (boo).

These barriers come in all colors and flavors, depending on market sector. From the report:

The five key barriers to energy efficiency investments reported in the survey are:

  • lack of awareness of opportunities for energy savings;
  • lack of technical expertise to design and complete projects;
  • lack of certainty that promised savings will be achieved;
  • inability of projects to meet the organization’s financial payback criteria; and
  • lack of available capital for investment in projects.

For the contractor serving small to midsize buildings, it is interesting to note that respondents with control over more square footage in larger facilities report having implemented more energy projects than those with smaller facilities. But trickledown is sure to follow.

Four is the Magic Number 

According to the EEI Survey, real estate organizations sharing the following four key strategic practices are most likely to get on the energy efficiency bandwagon, and implemented four times as many energy efficiency improvement measures as those that did not:

  • goals established for reduced energy use or carbon emissions;
  • energy use data measured and analyzed at least monthly;
  • added resources dedicated to improving energy efficiency through the hiring or retraining of staff, or the hiring of external service providers; and
  • external financing sources used for projects.

The Building Advisor can’t help making a couple of points here. For energy use data measured and analyzed at lease monthly, our Verify product for ongoing, continuous monitoring is the solutions. I mean, have you read what it did for J.E. Shekell in Smart Solutions (J.E. Shekell Uses Building Advice to Slash Energy Bills in Half ) or the NEWS (Facility Energy Audit Leads to Huge Savings)?

And in the second place, BuildingAdvice is like adding a team of expert management, sales, and engineering personnel acting as an extension of an HVAC Contractor’s current team to drive the development and ongoing execution of an energy services business. ‘Nuff said.

And Speaking of Incentives Changing the World

Sacramento development image by Michael Nagle/Bloomberg News

The Gray Lady’s Energy & Environment section reported  on a $650 million private sector investment in energy efficiency for existing buildings in this week’s article, Tax Plan to Turn Old Buildings ‘Green’ Finds Favor.

It’s getting around that a retrofit can typically cut a building’s energy use so much that the project pays for itself in as little as five years. A new tax arrangement in Miami and Sacramento allows property owners to upgrade their buildings at no upfront cost, typically cutting their energy use and their utility bills by a third.

Lockheed Martin, Barclays Bank and some other big boys, headed up by Ygrene Energy Fund of Santa Rosa, Calif., have formed a consortium that will invest $650 million in such upgrades over the next few years.

The article called waste in older buildings “one of the nation’s biggest energy problems” and cited energy as a sector that could eventually be worth billions.

The meat of the plan is pretty genius: the constortium is kind of like a strip mall serving all of your energy efficiency needs in one stop. Ygrene and its partners gain exclusive rights for five years to offer this type of energy upgrade to businesses in a particular community. Lockheed Martin does the engineering work. Short-term loans come from Barclays Capital to pay for the upgrades. Then, “Contractors will offer a warranty that the utility savings they have promised will actually materialize,” the article states. Insurance underwriter, Energi, of Peabody, Mass., backs up that warranty. It goes on from there.

Best of all, owners pay no upfront cost for energy efficient upgrades. Instead, a surcharge is attached to subsequent property tax bills for five to 20 years. However, as the surcharges are less than the savings, the upgrades pay for themselves. Really. The new approach could garner substantial private capital for many midsize and smaller businesses to get on the energy efficiency bus.

In the past three years, half the states have passed legislation permitting energy retrofits financed by property-tax surcharges, and hundreds of cities and counties are considering such programs. The new financing approach is called Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE financing. PACE saw some serious backlash last year when an arm of the federal government that oversees the mortgage market took a hostile stance toward such projects on residential property, on the grounds that they add risk to mortgages. But, the article notes, “So far, it appears that PACE programs for commercial properties pose fewer legal complications.”

Richard Branson by Michael Nagle/Bloomberg News

The consortium was put together by the Carbon War Room, a nonprofit environmental group based in Washington set up by Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur and billionaire, to tackle the world’s climate and energy problems in cost-saving ways.

Git Along, Little Doggie

“Perhaps the most serious risk,” the article notes, “is that fly-by-night contractors will be drawn to the new pot of money, pushing energy retrofits that are too costly or work poorly.

‘Contractors are cowboys,’ said Dennis Hunter, chairman of Ygrene. He promised close scrutiny of the ones selected for the Miami and Sacramento programs.”

What say ye to that, boys?

Ride ‘em, cowboy!

Cowboy image courtesy

Summer HVAC Wrap + BetterBricks Video

September 1st, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Before the summer winds to a close, The Building Advisor feels it deserves a look back. In addition to soaring heat waves, the summer’s energy efficiency news was telling.

First, go to our latest webinar on Getting to the Decision Makers – a summer triumph from BuildingAdvice in providing HVACs with the tools they need to educate building owners and managers on energy efficiency cost savings.

Best video series ever! Building Night Walks from NEEA’s BetterBricks’ YouTube Channel. Sorta like “The X Files” meets your life.

Here is one:

Johnson Controls (JCI) issued its annual Energy Efficiency Indicator (EEI) survey last June, ['s article here] asking executives responsible for energy use and real estate decisions how they feel about energy and how it’s affecting their business decisions. The top line bullet from over of over 4,000 property managers surveyed?

“Energy cost savings, government incentives and enhanced public image [are] the biggest motivators for energy-efficiency investments.”

Read the executive summary here, direct from the horse’s mouth.

CNBC (finally!) evaluated the report’s findings with a good, long look in this week’s article “Energy Price Volatility Now A Major Factor In Corporate Efficiency Drive.” As Trevor Curwin pointed out,

“‘Bottom-line energy costs savings’ is the biggest single reason for property managers to consider spending on energy efficiency projects, but ‘energy security’ jumped into the top-five list of concerns from out of nowhere.”

JCI’s research shows the average payback time for an energy efficiency project is 3.1 years. While “government and utility incentives” are huge drivers for the energy efficiency marketplace, the “Achilles heel” of most efficiency improvement projects is still financing.

Tom Konrad

Tom Konrad

Forbes blogger Tom Konrad did a great series on energy services stocks in June. His post The Sector Information Technology Forgot looks at how demand response – programs that offer incentives for business owners who curtail their facility’s energy use during times of peak demand - plays into energy efficiency programs, particularly EnerNOC’s.

Along that line, EnerNOC went public in June, and shortly thereafter the company announced Memphis City Schools Selects EnerNOC’s EfficiencySMART(TM) Insight to Improve System-Wide Energy Use.

Summer daze got you bored of reading? The recent proliferation of HVAC multimedia from your favorite trades should be enough to keep you entertained during lunches as the weather cools. Check out Contracting Business’ video portal, or the NEWS’ new podcast directory.

 Images courtesy

Efficiency Now Comes to Life on YouTube

June 25th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

the horror! the horror!


A black tunnel of smoke creeps around your building. It’s name? “WASTE.”

This video from Johnson Controls’ Efficiency Now campaign (complete with microsite), does a great job of setting up how far the sustainable movement has come, and what a tough road that’s been. Then, after this feeling of hard-won achievement has built, they show you how we’re throwing it all down the tubes in the form of inefficient buildings. Evil black clouds encircle skyscrapers.

You may be tempted to boo and hiss at the monitor. Check it out!

Sustainable Vertical Village in Dubai

Heads up for Oregon: the oft-discussed Business Energy Tax Credit (BETC) applicaton for renewable energy project rebates is June 30, Sustainable Business Oregon reminds us. This is for projects between $500,000 and $6 million only, so, no sustainable vertical villages a la Dubai (pictured).

Images courtesy Johnson Controls, The Making of Me, Fast Company


June 17th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

It’s tough to find non-oilspill related news these days, what with the Presidential address Tuesday and all. So The Business Advisor is going to take this time to focus on what’s truly important for energy efficiency in commercial buildings, but we need your help:

Which Green Biz/Tech Blogger Celeb do you find most attractive?

Your choices will be pictured throughout this post. Please consider as you browse through the grab bag of energy efficiency news for commercial buildings:

Martin LaMonica, "Green Tech" for CNET: rugged.

Heather Clancy for ZDNet

Heather Clancy, "Green Pastures" for ZDNet: pretty cute.

  • Speaking of the devil, this week the Energy Efficiency Forum held its 21st Annual Forum at the National Press Club in Washington, DC (co-sponsored by Johnson Controls and the U.S. Energy Association). The site is chock full of live webcasts and blog posts.
  • The New York Times cited $140 billion as the amount of annual savings the U.S. could save by making buildings more energy efficient, according to a resolution from the U.S. Conference of Mayors, who met this week to back a mandatory green construction code.
  • The National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) has tons of great energy efficiency news and resources here, including a nifty counter of Energy Savings So Far this Year. Is The Building Advisor late to the game on this one? It’s ok, you can tell me.
Melissa Hincha-Ownby, GreenBiz for mother nature network

Melissa Hincha-Ownby, GreenBiz for mother nature network: definitely at a disadvantage here, being a cartoon.

  • And for you HVAC fans out there, did you see this? “Built around LG’s inverter compressors, the Multi-V series delivers one of the highest EER ratings available in the VRF equipment category, along with low sound operation. Using VRF technology, the Multi-V system provides commercial businesses greater temperature control therefore avoiding unnecessary energy usage in unoccupied rooms.” Ooh, technical….


Joel Makower: Original Gangsta

Joel Makower: Original Gangsta


Say Hello to My Little Friends

May 7th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

Alright, maybe a Scarface reference in the same post as the distinguished mentions in this roundup isn’t really appropriate for an energy efficiency blog. But hey, it’s Friday.

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance enjoyed the spotlight in the Pacific Northwest this week, having gathered a whole lot of money to renew their Commitment to Regional Energy Efficiency Efforts, namely saving the region 200 average megawatts (aMW) of power by 2014. Sponsors are a who’s who: everyone from the U.S. Department of Energy to Energy Trust of Oregon to public utilities providers in the four-state Northwest region. Oh, so THAT’s why they haven’t been returning my calls.

In other news, we’d like to give a shoutout to SNIPS for its valuable news updates, web exclusives and personable blogs. Full disclosure: they covered our NorthWrite partnership here.

And Sustainable Facility has asked The Building Advisor to do a few guest posts, which makes us feel like the not-obviously-beautiful-girl on the side who finally got asked to dance. Recently in the SF blogJack Pouchet broke down some infrastructure tightening moves, the last of which is “Improve the granularity of your monitoring.” Which reminds us, we have this other little friend, name of NorthWrite, which definitely allows us to improve the granularity of your monitoring. Did you hear about our recent partnership?

Building energy and operations industry giant Johnson Controls launched an Institute for Building Efficiency. Jennifer Layke has been named director of the institute; formerly, she was deputy director of the Climate and Energy Program at the World Resources Institute (WRI). The institute will create programs on marketplace research, expert networks, and a virtual resource center. Really cool examples of those resources here, and pictured. What won’t the Institute do? Lobby in congress.

And oh yeah, even though it was written by something of a competitor, you should read “5 Reasons You Need an Energy Efficiency System,” because it speaks the truth. Thanks to Area Development Online for posting such shameless propaganda for a good cause.

Images courtesy Johnson Controls, A High Latency Life, and S&E Blog.

Many Acronyms Make Fast Work of Energy Efficiency

April 22nd, 2010 by Jim Crowder

Earlier this week, everyone was tweeting about the fourth annual Energy Efficiency Indicator released Monday by Johnson Controls in association with the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) and the American Society of Healthcare Engineering (ASHE), which garnered intelligent coverage by Fast Company, greentechenterprise, and Kansas City Business Journal, among others. This survey inventories the investment plans and priorities of 1,400 North American executives and managers the decisionmakers behind commercial buildings.

The big news?

  • 52% said they are planning to make capital investments in energy efficiency, up from 46% last year.
  • 60% are planning to make operating budget expenditures in efficiency programs over the next twelve months.
  • 38% said that the largest barrier to making energy efficiency investments is limited capital availability.
  • 97% of respondents identified energy cost savings as the most significant factor influencing energy efficiency decisions.

“Cheap and easy solutions clearly win out,” Fast Company commented of the surveyed breakdown on intended efficiency solution methods, of which upgraded building controls account for 33%. But here’s the deal: BuildingAdvice offers low- and no-cost efficiency solutions, which are not only easy but better than cheap. And unlike other dashboard / management offerings we’re starting to see crop up all over, BuildingAdvice actually identifies specific problem areas in your building, then recommends improvements and estimates the financial value of those improvements.

But enough about us. Sustainable Business Oregon has posted a great column from Sean Penrith of the Earth Advantage Institute (did you see BuildingAdvice’s column, “Investment vs. Immediacy,” by Kevin Skurski last week?). :)

Earth Advantage Institute and Energy Trust of Oregon have teamed up to create a rating called the Energy Performance Score, or EPS, “a kind of miles-per-gallon sticker for your home,” Penrith says. You might not necessarily post this score inside your living room window, a la restaurants in Los Angeles (image courtesy, but then again, you might.

On the commercial building side, companies like BuildingAdvice will be paying attention to the Building Energy Quotient (BEQ), a new designation formulated by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). The BEQ measures energy consumption before and after occupancy with “as designed” and “in operation” scores.

“However, the EPS and BEQ are not designed to be mandates, but a market mechanism that can create opportunity for the private sector,” writes Penrith in Sustainable Business Oregon.

So BEQ is one more way to make your building profitable, marketable, and sustainable. If the value of the EPS is integrated into the mortgage, retrofit loan, appraisal and homeowner insurance, what could a BEQ mean for commercial building value? Going back to the Johnson Controls report, 63% of those 1,400 building decisionmakers surveyed think that increasing energy efficiency will lead to an improved public image.