4 FM quick reads on Energy Efficiency
1. How To Make Data-Based Decisions
Today's tip is about how facility managers can use data to make decisions. Facility managers are probably well familiar with the idea that "you can't manage what you can't measure." That may be true, but to truly manage, that maxim should be expanded upon a bit. Really, "you can't manage what you can't measure, analyze and make decisions as a result of."
Some facility managers think simply collecting data is enough. They think, "Well, now that I'm measuring this, if a problem ever arises, now I'll have the data to investigate." That's too passive, most experts would say. Only collect data if you can be sure you have a way to analyze it with a specific goal in mind - reducing energy use or lowering your space-per-occupant standard, for instance.
Let's take a look at an example: Rob Pearlman, who is the senior facilities and administration officer at International Finance Corporation, a Washington D.C., based member of the World Bank Group, has been running an experiment at the company's 1.2 million square foot headquarters. He uses his building automation system to tweak setpoints in particular areas of the building, and then tracks complaint calls into his facilities help desk to determine if the new setpoint is to hot or too cold for the occupants. If complaint calls don't fall outside of an already-carefully-monitored threshold, Pearlman leaves the setpoint and then begins tracking how much energy the new setpoint saves. It's a brilliant strategy to squeeze every last ounce of energy out of a building that is already at a 94 Energy Star rating.
Health care facility managers may be familiar with this concept, which they call evidence-based design or evidence-based management. It's a concept that facility managers would do well to become familiar with and implement in their own organizations.
3. A Look At New Energy Incentives
Today's tip is about relatively new types of rebate and incentive programs facility managers can take advantage of. According to Lindsay Audin, president of EnergyWhiz, four types of efficiency and incentive programs offer money for various efficiency or renewable strategies.
The first is natural gas efficiency and fuel switching. Because the price of natural gas has come down relative to oil, incentives have popped up to raise gas-use efficiency, replace electric equipment with gas systems and switch from oil to natural gas, which emits about 30 percent fewer carbon emissions for the same heat output.
Secondly, feed-in tariffs for on site renewable energy generation are gaining support. Common in Europe, a feed-in tariff is a fee paid by the utility to the end user for every kWh fed back into the grid. As opposed to a one-time rebate or grant, this gives facility managers a constant stream of revenue from their investment in renewable energy.
A third is demand response. Facility managers are probably well-familiar with these agreements with utilities to reduce load when called upon to do so. Now available in more than 20 states, demand response programs are becoming more prevalent with the advent of smart meters and real-time pricing.
Finally, tax incentives spelled out in the federal stimulus and recently extended by the tax bill can continue to help facility managers with energy efficiency investments. Tax deductions in the Energy Policy Act of 2007 of up to $1.80 are still in play, as well. And President Obama has promised to continue work on a national energy policy with further incentives for efficiency.
For a more comprehensive look at tax incentives and other monetary assistance, visit www.energytaxincentives.org.