When it comes to energy optimization purchases involving products and services, the many criteria to consider include the particular benefits or uniqueness of a product or service, and validation that the product or service will work. Here's a closer look at these issues.
What new or unique benefit does this product/service offer to me? When choosing between products, it's important to understand what might make each of them unique. Does the product or service represent a significant advance in the field? Offermann suggests facility managers find out who the direct competitors of a product or service might be, and understand what the differentiators in the offerings are. Keep in mind, the differentiator might not be the hardware itself, but the service provided around the hardware.
How can I validate that this product/service will work? A major benefit of third-party certifications is that they help to validate the claims the manufacturer or service provider is making, so facility managers can be a little more confident in their decision. "That tells us there's validity to the claims because you're looking for a reputable third party to bless it," says Bob Holesko, corporate director of engineering, The Kessler Collection. "That's giving that product credibility out of the gate."
Reputable is a key term here. There are many third-party certifiers out there. It is up to facility managers to consider which they may or may not consider as reputable. Third-party validation can come in many forms: certifications from industry-related organizations, collaboration with one of the national energy labs, or awards from industry associations and journals, to name a few. "That's another thing to give credibility to the data," says Jim Cooke, president and CEO, The J. Fisher Group. "An independent third party has reviewed it and has said, this is accurate information. That's another way to weed out the pretenders from the contenders."
In addition to validating claims, third-party certifications can be used as a tiebreaker between otherwise comparable products. The same can be said for understanding how the service provider or manufacturer measures its own internal sustainability performance. Going after certification through ISO (International Organization for Standardization), for example, is no small thing and it speaks to how confident a manufacturer or service provider is in its own processes. Making sure the supply chain aligns with the goals of the company is becoming a more common consideration for facility managers, making it important to seek proof through aspects such as the manufacturing facility being LEED certified, for example.
"It is a distinguisher between a company that wants to sell a product to make money, and a company that wants to sell a product supporting a mission or a goal that they themselves support," says Offermann. "My concern is that if all they're trying to do is sell product because they don't care about reducing energy or saving the environment or tracking their own carbon, how then can they associate that with my goals, which can be all of the above?"
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