Energy Star, Portfolio Manager Can Help Make Capital Investment Decisions
Energy Star and Portfolio Manager also can aid companies as they decide on capital investments or develop prototype facilities. That's been the case with Food Lion, a chain of more than 1,100 supermarkets based in Salisbury, N.C. The company has worked with Energy Star for more than 12 years, says Wayne Rosa, energy and maintenance manager. Food Lion has more than 1,000 Energy Star-certified stores, according to the company's website.
As the company develops and operates new buildings, it enters information on energy use into Energy Star. The goal is to be in the high 80s or low 90s, once enough information to determine a ranking is available, Rosa says. "If we're not meeting that we ask, 'Why not?'" As the prototype improves, it's expected to have a positive impact on the Energy Star scores.
As part of the drive to cut energy use, Food Lion has begun sub-metering up to 17 discrete loads, such as refrigeration and HVAC, within some buildings, and in increments as small as 15 minutes. "If we can get more granular, we can make better choices," Rosa says.
The strategy appears to be working: since 2000 Food Lion has cut its energy consumption by more than 2.69 trillion BTUs and energy use by more than 25 percent, according to the company's 2011 Sustainability Annual Report.
Clearly, Energy Star and Portfolio Manager are helping a number of organizations cut energy consumption. That's not to say that those implementing the tools don't run into obstacles.
One, which appears easily refuted, is concern about the work involved in entering the data needed for Portfolio Manager to reliably calculate energy use. To be sure, some data entry is required; to start, for instance, the facility's gross floor area, weekly operating hours, and the numbers of workers and computers, among other data needs to be entered. However, updating the information typically takes a building engineer less than a half-hour each month, Stolatis says.
Another challenge can be getting others throughout an organization interested in saving energy, given the responsibilities on everyone's to-do lists. D'Angelo says he focuses more on the cost savings than on energy reduction. He'll talk about the fact that the organization spends $60 million annually in energy, so even a small percentage reduction can have a large impact on the bottom line.
D'Angelo also points out where improvements can both save energy and enhance patient care — what he calls "a positive spiral." An example is an investment in more efficient heat exchangers, which cut energy use while providing better temperature and humidity control, boosting patient comfort.
Of course, no one person can coax an entire organization to implement energy-saving policies and procedures. D'Angelo identifies champions in other areas of the company, such as a nurse who's passionate about saving energy. He or she can promote the idea of energy tracking and reduction to coworkers.
Finally, simply using Portfolio Manager can help facility managers identify ways that it can add value. "I had no understanding of Portfolio Manager being a good budgeting tool until I used it and saw that power of it untapped," D'Angelo says.
Karen Kroll, a contributing editor for Building Operating Management, is a freelance writer who has written extensively about real estate and facility issues.