Posts Tagged ‘Energy Efficiency’

Looking back on 2015, there have been a lot of things going on with Servant Energy 2016respect to the energy business and how it affects different industry sectors, as well certain areas like my home state of Texas! Natural gas prices lumbered at historical lows and with oil prices still on a downward spiral since June 2014, into the $36.00 range, some analysts predict that prices could fall below $30.00. Consumers have been able to benefit from the price drop at the pump, while some oil companies have started to feel the heat from declining oil prices.

In Texas, construction is finishing the year off strong, especially in the DFW area, where we continue to see a significant rise in construction and job creation. Houston, although not able to keep up the pace it had for the last few years, still has cranes in the air and new developments are coming online. Driving around the DFW area, cranes have been popping up all over town due to the construction of corporate relocations, office buildings, multifamily buildings, mixed use, and manufacturing additions. This has been a great sign for DFW! The construction companies and developers are enjoying some good times that can hopefully last another two to three years.

While these construction companies and large building owners continue to build, their power needs become great and more complex. Getting power for projects is not just a cost of doing business; it really is a way to more effectively managing the project by planning ahead of time. My firm, Servant Energy Partners, truly believes that by involving power needs at the beginning of the construction process a company can save large amounts of time and costs, plus add savings to the bottom line. Our firm takes the approach that every project is unique. Finding out time frames, challenges, and the load can help a company put a road map plan in place, ensuring that power is ready and available when needed for the project. Additionally, ensuring that there is a long term process in place to handle the power needs for the duration of the project, all the way through transition to the ownership group.

Servant Energy Partners, which includes a team of skilled former utility personnel, helps our construction, developer, and building owner’s partners through the process, so they will have peace of mind when they start a project and ensure that they will be prepared to handle any challenges and obstacles that may arise. All while saving money on the power they use. We have been fortunate to be a part of some of the largest projects in the DFW area in 2015, including State Farm (Austin Commercial), Raytheon Headquarters (A & P), Parkland Hospital (BARA), and Liberty Mutual (Balfour Beatty). What a blessing and a pleasure it has been to be involved in these projects.

Our goal, at Servant Energy Partners, has always been to serve our clients and help them save on the energy. As our 2015 journey is coming to an end, we want to thank all of our partners who have help make our 5th year in business a year of exciting growth and rewards, both personally and professionally. We hope that you will allow us to help you on your journey, as your energy partner in the coming years. “Power Up for 2016” and Beyond!


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Most Americans aren’t doing enough to stop their homes from being energy hogs.
People have to do more — at least four energy efficiency improvements — to make a real impact on their utility bills. Unfortunately, Americans aren’t reaching that magic number, even though the government and utilities have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to get them to act.”
Most energy conserving behaviors and home improvement activities dropped significantly from last year” and now are more in line with percentages from 2008 and 2009.
Researchers looked at more than a dozen improvements and behavior changes from simply turning off lights and using less energy during peak periods to having a home energy audit. Activity fell in each category this year with respondents doing a mere 2.6 things on average to reduce energy consumption — which was not enough to lower electricity bills.
Oddly, the drop in energy-saving improvements and activity occurred even though Americans seem to be somewhat more aware that their homes need work and that their energy costs are increasing. This year, 23 percent said their homes were inefficient compared to 14 percent in 2010.
There is a reason there is a gap between perception and behavior:
• Denial. “Most Americans continue to live in denial about their energy consumption,” the report said. Despite doing less to save energy, 71 percent of respondents said they believe they are using the same amount or less energy than they did five years ago. Twenty-six percent said they were using more, and 3 percent said they didn’t know.
• A high-tolerance for bill increases. Fifty-eight percent said their utility bill would have to increase by more than $75 a month before they’d consider spending money on energy improvements. On average, respondents said it would take an increase of $112 to spur them to action and those is not a certainty give variables that can affect a bill.
• Costs. The people who most need to make energy efficient improvements are the least able to make them. Those who can better afford to spend money on home improvements were more sensitive to bill increases” and were more likely to make changes that would reduce costs. That is usually the ones that are acting.
• Misplaced priorities. “Consumers continue to prioritize the wrong things as you can see from the lack of home energy audits. Home energy audits continue to be the colonoscopy of energy efficiency. Everyone should get one, but too few actually go through with it. This year, 15 percent said they had an energy audit done on their home, compared to 20 percent last year. Only a third said they think an audit is necessary and of those people close to half said they might get one done.
The federal government should take the hundreds of millions of dollars that’s currently fragmented into best-practices tests, block grants and pilot programs all over the country and pool the money into one big pot. Then design a big national education effort to encourage Americans to take the most important four or five steps necessary to see a real reduction in their utility bills. There needs to be incentive that both creates people to act as well as results that they can look forward to.

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As companies increasingly turn their attention to the environmental impact of doing business, they are learning that sustainable practices help reduce costs and increase efficiency. An effective sustainability plan not only assesses how to reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and minimize waste to landfills, but also fosters employee investment in a “go green” culture and lifestyle at home.

One area where many companies are directly reducing their environmental impact is through the management of their supply chain. Working with their suppliers, companies can reduce excess packaging and waste by insisting products be shipped in multi-packs or reusable containers. For example, Lockheed Martin has achieved cost savings through a new program with Staples by purchasing green products, including recycled paper, which has saved nearly 9,000 trees in one year alone.

Some companies are creating a “go green” culture by taking steps to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, purchasing renewable energy credits and setting up “green zones,” where employees commit to reducing their energy use. LEED certified buildings help reduce energy costs and efficiency and reinforce a company’s commitment to sustainability.

Supporting environmental education programs and initiatives of environmental organizations helps employees to get involved in environmental initiatives outside of the company and learn more about how they can support sustainability efforts. Lockheed Martin supports environmental education as part of its overall science, technology, engineering and math outreach efforts. Its engineers lead classroom events using environmental science lesson plans and the company sponsors National Environmental Education Week that precedes Earth Day.

Dr. David Constable, corporate vice president of energy, environment, safety and health for Lockheed Martin, suggests that companies consider the following when developing sustainable business processes:

1. Set ambitious but reasonable goals to reduce environmental impacts
Identify areas where the company can reduce carbon emissions, conserve water and reduce waste through recycling. These initiatives often result in significant cost savings for companies that execute them properly.

2. Develop employee programs and incentives to encourage participation in sustainability initiatives
Offer employees who make an ENERGY STAR pledge a worthwhile incentive. Disseminate information about how they can reduce energy use at home and in the office.

3. Consolidate data servers and IT operations where possible
Reducing the number of data servers ultimately lowers electricity use, frees up office space and results in significant cost savings.

4. Identify projects that will help to reduce the use of natural resources and disposal of waste to landfills
Implementing a comprehensive recycling program is a simple, cost-efficient way to reduce waste going to the landfill.

Effective corporate sustainability practices equal responsible business practices. Minimizing carbon emissions, reducing waste to landfill and conserving water are not only environmental imperatives but essential to reducing costs and maximizing efficiency.

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For facility managers, there’s no question that enhancing a building’s energy efficiency is not only a green way to go but is also a smart way to reduce utilities and improve the bottom line.

Unfortunately, the most obvious ways to improve a building’s energy efficiency also require a high initial investment – from window replacement to installing more modern HVAC components, such as a new chiller or boiler, or installing a completely new HVAC system.

Luckily, there are several building improvements with proven energy efficiency that require modest initial investment and result in impressively quick ROI.

1. Window Films
Perhaps the most often overlooked energy-efficiency solution provides a simple and fast installation. Adding a high-technology film to existing windows is a proven way to reduce the amount of energy lost through windows – and with quick, hassle free professional installation, tenants receive very minimal disruption.

A smart alternative to window replacement, window films help control overall operating costs and balance building temperatures, as well as reduce the load on HVAC systems, which in turn prolongs HVAC life.

Impressively, average payback on window films is often less than three years, which is quite an improvement over window replacement, which often takes longer than 15-20 years. As an added benefit, many utility companies offer rebates (http://dsireusa.org/summarytables/finee.cfm) specific to window films that cover as much as 50% of installation costs, greatly increasing the speed of ROI. (If your utility company doesn’t list window films specifically, they may still be eligible for Custom Measures rebates which can offset installation costs by as much as 30%.)

2. High Efficiency Lighting
Switching to high efficiency lighting is as smart as it is simple. Not only does it use less energy, but it also generates less heat, which reduces the load on cooling systems.

According to Energy Star, a lighting power reduction of 40% increases a building’s Energy Star rating by about 10 points. The Energy Star Building Upgrade Manual is a great place to start when planning lighting upgrades for a building (www.energystar.gov/BldgManual).

3. Energy Management Systems
An energy management system consists of a combination of building management systems and advanced software solutions that work together to control a building’s HVAC operations.

The system monitors and adjusts heating and cooling based on environmental conditions and usage (such as when the building or a particular area is empty). The system ensures optimal energy usage, resulting in greater efficiency and lower utility costs.

4. Lighting Controls
Similar to energy management systems, lighting controls work to optimize lighting based on actual usage and environmental conditions.

Manual dimming switches, or sliders, are the simplest way to allow occupants to reduce the amount of light used, in turn reducing the amount of energy used.

Occupancy sensors detect lack of movement and turn off or dim lights when rooms are unoccupied.

Daylighting is an option for regions with year-round sunlight. Photosensors detect natural light and dim or turn off the lights, allowing the occupants to rely on the sunlight when possible. Drawbacks to this solution include solar heat gain and glare, but both can be reduced by pairing this improvement with window films.

5. Weather Sealing
When you take measures to keep cool air in during the summer and warm air in during the winter, you naturally reduce the burden on HVAC equipment, which can save energy and money.

Weather sealing can be as simple as caulking and weatherstripping cracks, holes and leaks in your building envelope. With new construction, look to a drainage plane such as building paper or house wrap to do the job.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology estimates gas savings of greater than 40% and electrical savings greater than 25% when you improve the air barrier of your building envelope.

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Ten Easy Steps to More Energy-Efficient Buildings
Start by changing the culture
The U.S. is awash in commercial building space—enough to account for 18% of the country’s energy consumption, including 36% of electricity usage. And much of that energy is wasted.
1. Change the Culture
Take inventory of your office space. How many employees have space heaters at their desks? Minifridges? Christmas lights still blinking away? It’s time to get ruthless. First, create an inviting area for shared microwaves, coffee makers and combination printer-fax-copiers. Then ban cubicle energy hogs and challenge employees to change their culture. Everyone should make a point of turning off lights, shutting down unused appliances and wearing a sweater in lieu of using a heater. Try efficiency contests among departments (with prizes!) to spark interest.
2. Shut ‘Em Down
Consider installing a system on your computer network that will put individual desktops into sleep mode when they’re not being used. Or timers that shut down workers’ computers 15 minutes after the scheduled end of their shift. (Those working late can override the shutdown with a click of the mouse.) Same thing with appliances and lights: Set them to shut off after everyone has gone home. This can cut utility costs 4% or more.
3. See the Light
Simply swapping out incandescent bulbs for more-efficient compact fluorescents or LEDs can help a great deal. One project manager of a large building focused on energy-efficient retrofits, increased the distance between hallway fixtures to 16 feet from 12 feet and had the walls repainted a lighter color so the space still looked bright. That cut energy use in the 110,000-square-foot renovated space by 5% at a fairly low cost, he says.
4. Go Retro
Commission an audit of the heating, air-conditioning and other building systems to compare their performance with design specifications. That may identify simple fixes—cleaning filters, replacing a leaky valve—that can significantly improve efficiency. It may be possible to shave energy use 4% to 6% through such techniques, known as retrocommissioning.
5. Let the Sun Shine
Willing to spend a bit more? Consider daylighting. Several companies sell rooftop devices that capture sunlight and distribute it more effectively than a skylight. Daylighting can eliminate the need for overhead lighting, at least on sunny days, cutting energy use by 10% to 15%.
6. Spruce Up the Space Plan
If you’re planning a cosmetic renovation, take the opportunity to make some energy-saving changes, too. Try lowering cubicle walls to facilitate the flow of air and sunlight. Eliminate some overhead fixtures, especially those near sunny windows, or at least install daylight sensors that automatically dim the lights when they’re not needed. If employees need stronger task lighting, give them LED desk lamps.
7. Loosen Up
It takes loads of energy to maintain a constant temperature. Replace existing thermostats with models that allow “dead bands.” Setting a dead band of 69 to 75 degrees means the heating, ventilating and AC system won’t kick in unless the building temperature drops below 69 or rises above 75. This step can pare costs 3% or more.
8. Control Your Fans
In many heating and air-conditioning units, the fans have just two settings: off or full speed. Installing variable-speed fans can yield big gains in efficiency. Another tip: If there are multiple units for one floor, make sure they can operate independently, so only the space being used on any given day is heated or cooled. A building manager in Denver took these steps in the law firm he renovated and cut electricity usage by 9%.
9. Upgrade the Envelope
Upgrades to the building envelope are the most expensive. Windows are an obvious place to start. And roofs painted in light, reflective colors don’t absorb solar heat, thus keeping buildings cooler during the summer.
10. Head Back to the Future
Many older buildings were designed to be comfortable without central air conditioning, but over time, windows, skylights and door transoms were sealed up and the buildings ceased to breathe. Consider reactivating the power of passive heating and cooling by making those openings operational again.

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Going green isn’t just for buildings anymore — the sustainability trend has also hit the industrial sector.

In 2009, the Northwest Food Processors Association and the Department of Energy announced aggressive goals to reduce energy use and carbon emissions by 25 percent over the next 10 years. This topic will be discussed at this year’s annual Energy Efficiency Summit, which is held in conjunction with the NWFPA’s annual conference in January at the Oregon Convention Center.

Industrial companies can reduce energy usage by training employees on energy efficiency, formalizing operations and maintenance plans, implementing renewable energy solutions and changing the company culture so that energy reduction is a corporate value.

Another opportunity to conserve energy is to upgrade old equipment with new, more energy-efficient technology. Many industrial companies have aging boilers, used to produce process steam, that consume large amounts of energy and are costly to maintain.

Combined Heat and Power technology has been successfully used to reduce energy usage in industrial processing facilities that utilize large amounts of process steam. Combined Heat and Power plants produce both steam and electricity from a single fuel at a facility co-located with the steam host. These systems offset some of the cost of producing process steam by generating electricity for sale or use as a part of the Combined Heat and Power process.

There are many benefits to using a Combined Heat and Power system including reducing the demand on the utility grid, increasing energy efficiency, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the property against power outages, while significantly lowering the utility costs of building operations.

Plant managers and owners may believe the cost of upgrading isn’t practical, but with the tax incentives and grants that are available for energy efficiency improvements, upgrading is more cost effective than they may realize. It allows owners to shift their investment from steam generation to improving their food processing line. It also significantly reduces their carbon footprint — something that is being required by more of their clients every year. New technology, combined with overall energy programs and practices, will help this industry achieve the goals set forth by the NWFPA and the Department of Energy.

Industrial contractors, industrial construction management professionals and equipment vendors that can assist clients in upgrading their systems, reducing energy consumption, and saving money will be present at the January trade show to meet representatives of local food processing companies.

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Here are the tips to reduce energy consumption and costs in buildings.

1. Assess how your building consumes and wastes energy. Conduct regular energy audits to determine what condition your equipment is in and how it is performing. These audits will show where and how energy is being wasted and prioritize energy improvement measures.

2. Use more energy efficient equipment. Install new energy efficient equipment and replace or eliminate outdated, inefficient equipment. Look for Energy Star labels for equipment and appliances.

3. Match HVAC and lighting output to occupancy. Install programmable building controls that enable systems to provide light, heat and cooling to building spaces only when they are occupied.

4. Maintain equipment for maximum efficiency. Make sure that your equipment is properly serviced and maintained so that it runs as efficiently as possible. Increase operating efficiency of chillers, boilers and packaged cooling equipment through proactive service and maintenance.

5. Maximize lighting efficiency. Upgrade lighting to high efficiency bulbs and fixtures. Energy efficient lighting uses less energy and generates less heat, reducing your costs and easing the strain on your HVAC systems.

6. Measure water usage and waste. Conduct water audit in your facilities, campus, or geography to determine where water is being used and wasted. Reduce water consumption by installing low-flow equipment and fixing leaks.

7. Schedule cleaning during regular work hours. Experiment with different “day cleaning” schedules. Arrange cleaning schedules to overlap with work hours instead of having cleaning done after hours and keeping the lights, heating and air conditioning on at night. That will reduce energy consumption.

8. Insulate thoroughly. Insulate exterior walls, outlets, pipes, radiators, etc to reduce heat and cooling loss.

9. Meet LEED standards. Build, renovate, and operate your facilities according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards. That will benefit your bottom line by lowering operating costs and increasing asset value. It will benefit the environment by conserving energy and water, reducing waste sent to landfills, creating healthier, safer occupant environments, and reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

10. Make building occupants more informed. Educate and engage building occupants to promote energy conservation and reward wise energy decisions and behaviors.

Read more: http://www.greenbiz.com/business/research/tool/2010/09/01/10-ways-reduce-energy-use-and-costs-your-building#ixzz14K70j0UK

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