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Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

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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Why is Sustainability Important

Sustainability is the ability to maintain a certain status or process in existing systems. The most frequent use of the term “sustainability” is connected to biological or human systems in the context of ecology. The ability of an ecosystem to function and maintain productivity for a prolonged period is also sustainability.
Living a sustainable lifestyle is one way to help. In this series pages we will go into what sustainability has to with ecology, recycling, water, and more. We will also reveal what some companies (like Petsmart and Disney) are doing to make a difference by operating their businesses in a sustainable way.

Why is Sustainability Important / Our Future Depends Upon It

Sustainability is important because all the choices we pursue and all the actions that we make today will affect everything in the future. We need to make sound decisions at present in order to avoid limiting the choices of generations to come.

For example, if you continue wasting water and polluting the dwindling supply of freshwater that we have today, we leave future generations with no other choice than to desalinate saltwater or treat contaminated water for their consumption and daily use. We can also be assured that, if that happens, all life that depends on clean freshwater will become extinct.

The same goes with the supply of soil that we currently have. Without proper care, our soils can easily lose quality enough that they will no longer be able to encourage growth and sustain life. If that happens, future civilizations will be void of crop and other natural sources of food. They will then have no other choice but to create man-made sources for nourishment and sustenance.

Why is Sustainability Important / Extinction Will Prevail

The two examples described above may seem terrible but, in fact, those are not the worst circumstances we can leave the future of mankind with. If clean water and good soil become scarce enough, all life on Earth can become extinct. Keep in mind that this does not just apply to soil and water but all elements of nature that are crucial to sustaining the Earth’s equilibrium.

In the past, the entire human population was small and civilizations had very few needs. At that time, natural resources seemed infinite because the capacity of nature to regenerate was much higher than the rate at which human beings used up resources.

Why is Sustainability Important / Time to Wake Up

Today, we are painfully beginning to learn that environmental resources are limited and are quite sensitive to everything that we do. We are starting to experience the effects of the actions of generations that came before us. To make sure that future generations will not experience worse, we need to be aware of the ideals and requirements of sustainability.

As we become aware, we need to put what we learn into action as that is the only way we can allow nature to catch up with the rate at which our requirements grow. This does not mean having to stifle human development. On the contrary, it means sustaining the supply of resources so that we can, in turn, sustain human development.

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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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6 Methods for Gaining LEED Compliance

While saving time and money…

1.Keep it Simple
Knowing how much documentation is necessary to satisfy the requirements can save the project team precious time, effort and therefore money. A 3rd party can help you shave your time and monetary commitments by helping to give guidance on documentation requirements. By requesting only the amount of documents required to demonstrate LEED compliance, in addition to knowing exactly what is required, helps project teams achieve certification with the least amount of effort.

2,Choose Right
Assessing which set of credits are best suited for your project requires experience and special insight. Every project is different with unique sets of circumstances that make the achievement-potential of specific credits better than for others. Identifying these opportunities is key to eliminating wasted time and effort which equates to saving project money. In addition, the cost of some credits varies significantly based on the building type, function and region-specific issues.

3.Set Goals Early
Getting started on the LEED path in the conceptual stage of the project helps reduce costs and ensures the most effective efforts will be applied, rather than scrapped or neglected due to timing.

4.Apply Common Sense
Attaining energy efficiencies using the simplest and most common sense approach can help you gain LEED points while keeping implementation costs down. We have found that going green does not have to be expensive and energy-saving equipment installations have the best returns when given the proper design and operation considerations. The process of attaining energy efficiency at a low cost does not have to be arduous.

5.Know the Scope of State and Federal Incentive Programs
Some programs can eliminate 90% of your premium costs for sustainable construction installations. This is big savings that helps one achieve a quicker return on investment. Make sure you know how to navigate the protocols and requirements of these tax incentive programs, so you can achieve your environmental and energy efficiency goals.

6.Hire Specialists
The USGBC is a great resource to locate consultants or architects who can provide the type of LEED expertise to help you begin your journey towards reaching a sustainability standard for your project. Good Luck

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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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