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To Judge Energy Optimization Products, Evaluate Applicability, Operational Impact


A key question to ask about any energy optimization product is this: How applicable will it be in my facility/campus? When Peter Strazdas, associate vice president, facilities management, at Western Michigan University considers energy optimization products and services, one of his first thoughts is how applicable it will be across his campus. He has to make sure it has a significant impact, something that's pretty broad based or meets a specific need, he says. "If I'm looking at energy optimization, it has to work across the entire campus." It has to work in his climatic conditions, and in a variety of different types of buildings, and the more it fits across the spectrum the more he can deploy it, he says.

Another area that Strazdas focuses on when making product and service evaluations is its impact on operations. This falls under his total cost of ownership research, he says. “If it's going to cut my energy bill in half, that's great. But what do I have to do after the first couple of years. Do I have to replace it every two years?" Strazdas says he tries to understand if the product will need to be serviced more frequently or will require particular staffing. "That's part of the total cost of ownership," he says. "The energy bill is just one part of that picture. I would strongly encourage facility managers to look at the full spectrum of cost. Not just the utility bill."

Another operations impact to consider is how a product or service will impact how efficiently current facility management staff can do their job, says Nathan Mitten, manager of energy services, Kimco Realty Corporation. "Is this product or service making my facility manager or building engineer more effective in the use of their time?" he says. For example, networked building controls won't necessarily make a fan or a pump more efficient, but they allow the person responsible for those systems to have better and more efficient access to their operations information.

Today’s quick read comes from Naomi Millan, senior editor, Building Operating Management.

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