Use Capital Plan To Achieve Stable Energy Savings

  April 22, 2015

Today's quick read comes from David Callan, vice president, McGuire Engineers. Every building owner or investor, whether engaged in a quick flip or in for a long-term hold, is looking for a return on investment (ROI). But the owner who is taking a long-term view of the property — whether an investor, a private sector owner-occupier, or a unit of government — has to consider a wide range of factors that contribute to stable and enduring ROI. Energy savings is a key to ROI, of course. But for the long-term owner, it is crucial for a facility to be, not only energy efficient, but also healthy, comfortable, and functional for all its inhabitants. Careful planning can ensure that investments in building systems not only lower operating costs, but also promote productivity and ultimately deliver the desired ROI.

The best way to achieve those goals is by creating a five-year strategic capital plan to guide investments. While planning at least a minimum of a year in advance is recommended for any capital improvement project, the five-year strategic capital plan allows owners to layer operational improvements and equipment upgrades, ultimately creating a cascading effect that enables the owner to maximize energy efficiency.

A well-thought-out five-year plan has another advantage: It enables the owner to minimize repair costs and to replace items before they fail. That approach gives the owner the opportunity to identify the best option for replacement of aging systems, to get the best prices on the work, and also to minimize tenant disruption.

The foundation for the five-year capital plan is a three-step process that ensures the owner will capture the best value for investments in energy efficiency. The three steps: pick the low-hanging fruit, retrocommission the building, and develop an energy opportunity study as the basis for an energy plan. Using this approach, the owner starts small and moves up through a strategically planned hierarchy of system improvements.

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