Smarter Business: Greening Advisor
During an energy audit, a trained engineer conducts an analysis of your building’s energy use and identifies opportunities for enhanced efficiency, identifying opportunities to save your company money and improve its environmental performance. Many utilities and local governments will conduct free energy audits for interested businesses. Contact your local utility to learn more about the services they provide.
Your business may also want to consult an energy service company, which will conduct an energy audit and finance and install energy efficiency improvements, sometimes in exchange for a share of the savings. For a directory of such firms, visit the National Association of Energy Service Companies database.
Energy Audits Save Money
Reducing your energy consumption is smart business. The Oakland Convention Center, for example, saves $78,000 yearly in energy costs because of enhancements made to its air handler, central plant controls, and energy management systems. The cost of these improvements was paid back within a year. The facility operators also report the possibility of saving an additional $174,000 per year with longer-term equipment replacement. In addition to direct energy savings, many utilities, government agencies, and other organizations offer cash rebates for implementing efficient and/or renewable energy improvements.
Between 1990 and 2002, IBM made improvements to its energy systems and saved 12.8 billion kWh of electricity, yielding a savings of more than $700 million. At the same time, these improvements reduced its emissions of carbon dioxide by 32 percent.
Since 2000, with the assistance of Avista Advantage, an energy consulting company, the grocery retailer Food Lion has been able to reduce its energy consumption by 25 percent, even though its total number of stores has increased. Through a variety of upgrades to lighting, HVAC, and refrigeration systems, the company has saved $105 million. Case Study
What Is an Energy Audit?
An energy audit analyzes and evaluates your company’s existing energy-use practices with an eye toward cost savings. Individual audits can vary, but they are likely to cover the following items:
- Available incentives
- Equipment rebates
- Time-of-use rebates
- Tax rebates and credits
- Baseline energy-use profile
- Building envelope improvements
- Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems
- Retrofitting and replacement
- Improved schedules
- Improved placement of thermostats and air sensors
- Improved computer programs
- Installation of timers and automatic sensors
- Replacement of light fixtures and bulbs
- Improved scheduling
- Plumbing improvements
- Identification of leaks
- Improved pipe insulation
- Overall design of a company’s energy management program
- Solar power feasibility studies
- Step-by-step example of auditing methodology
- EPA: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Calculator
- Environmental Benefits and Cost Savings Calculator for Purchasers
- Energy Star Savings Calculators
- Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency
- Residential Energy Services Company (RESNET)
- EPA: Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Grocery retailer Food Lion worked with an energy consulting company to reduce its energy consumption by 25 percent, even though its total number of stores has increased.
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