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Building Operating Management

Making the Right Choice with Energy Optimization Products and Services





The great variety of energy optimization products and services to choose from, ever limited funds, and increasing demands for performance accountability when looking at these purchases, especially ones that are new to the market, turn up the pressure for facility managers to make the right choice.

The market is fat with options for every available building system, vertical market, and price point. "Because technology is changing so rapidly and the industry knows there's a lot of opportunity here, there's a lot of people jumping into the business," says Nathan Mitten, manager of energy services, Kimco Realty. "And the challenge is really being able to identify the technologies, as well as the companies that can be trusted energy advisors. There are a lot of folks who want to make a quick sell."

"One of the biggest concerns facility managers and energy managers have, especially with new products, is 'Is it going to do what I need it to do?'" says Scott Offermann, managing director, critical operations manager, Cushman & Wakefield. If the product or service does not deliver, it could look very bad for the facility manager in the eyes of the organization, he says. Answering the "Will it work?" question gets down to relying on the experience, knowledge, and intuition of facility managers in assessing and evaluating products and services, Offermann says. And a lot of due diligence.

To help facility managers make an informed decision, five facility managers who have extensive energy-efficiency experience discuss criteria for discerning which energy optimization products and services will most likely deliver on their promises, and how facility managers can apply those criteria to their own purchasing deliberations. These five facility managers are also judges for the inaugural Apex Award for Energy Optimization, and the thought processes they describe helped shape the criteria for the new award competition. (See "Introducing The Apex Award for Energy Optimization" in Part VI of this article.)

What To Consider

Before getting into the nitty gritty of how to select energy optimization products and services, a definition of terms. Energy optimization is about the smart use of energy, whereas energy efficiency focuses more on the reduction of energy use.

"Essentially it is overall utilizing energy in the most economical and beneficial form available for an organization," says Offermann.

When selecting energy optimization products and services, there are many criteria to consider. To start, facility managers will need to acquire the basic information that can be gleaned from spec and technical data sheets: make up, dimensions, ratings, etc. But other information to gather that can't necessarily be found on a marketing brochure includes how unique the product or service is, what its applicability is, what the operational impact is, what the ROI is, and what the third party certifications are, if any. Most of this information is a bit subjective, in that it depends in part on factors within the facility and the facility management department that will use it. So it is up to each facility manager to ask the right questions to ascertain if a product or service will work for them.


posted on 6/5/2015

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