Smarter Business: Greening Advisor

 

Energy efficiency improvements

Electric power plants are the country's largest industrial source of the pollutants that cause global warming, acid rain and mercury contamination of lakes and rivers. By making energy efficiency improvements, your company can reduce its consumption of fossil fuels and its contribution to the emission of greenhouse gases, as well as other pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain; nitrous oxide, which creates ground-level ozone and causes respiratory disease; mercury, which poisons streams and lakes and causes neurological damage; and fine particulate matter, which causes respiratory disease. An energy audit will identify opportunities for cost savings through efficiency improvements. In the absence of an audit, consider implementing some or all of the tips in the sections below.

The federal government’s Energy Star program offers many technical resources to help your company reduce its energy use:

For a list of energy efficiency incentives and rebates in your state, visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

Calculate savings from energy efficient products.

Also consider including Energy Star and energy efficiency specifications in requests for proposals and contracts. Contract language examples and additional product specifications can be found at EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database. The following are examples of environmentally intelligent contracts:

Tips to Reduce Energy Use

There are many things that you can do to reduce the energy used by your business. The tips below are a useful start.

  • Consider the following product specifications when purchasing appliances, electronics, lighting, and HVAC systems:
    • Buy products rated by EPA’s Energy Star program. For product categories that are not rated by Energy Star, consult the Federal Energy Management Program’s procurement guide.
    • Look for other energy-saving features such as programmability and power-save functions.
    • Many products use energy even when they’re turned off. Look for products that use as little energy as possible while in “off” mode.
  • Seal leaks in your building envelope.
  • Increase insulation, especially around windows and above ceilings.
  • In the heating season, lower the temperature on your thermostat.
  • In the heating season, keep shades on sun-facing windows open during the day and closed at night. In the cooling season, keep shades on sun-facing windows closed during the day.
  • Install programmable thermostats.
  • Lower the thermostat on your water heaters.
  • Properly insulate hot water storage tanks.
  • Replace single-pane windows with double-pane Energy Star–rated windows.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescents.
  • Replace incandescent exit signs with light emitting diode (LED) signs.
  • Install motion sensors on lights so they turn off when a room or area is unoccupied.
  • Make maximum use of daylight to reduce the need for lighting.
  • Turn off computers and monitors when not in use.
  • Turn off printers and fax machines overnight.
  • Activate energy-saving features on computers, and turn off screen savers.
  • Turn off lights when leaving the office.
  • Installing a green roof can significantly reduce building cooling costs. And beyond the energy savings, green roofs help to reduce polluted urban storm runoff, and even have increased durability and lifespan compared to conventional roofs.

For an additional list of energy efficiency tips, visit NRDC’s Clean Energy page. You may also wish to consult with your energy suppliers and local public utilities commission, and visit the pages below:

Reducing Energy Use Saves Money

Reducing your company’s 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 the company’s 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 increased. Through a variety of upgrades to lighting, HVAC, and refrigeration systems, the company has saved $105 million. Case Study

Additional Resources

Greening Advisor

The Business Plan

The Opportunities

Quick Tips

  • Turn off computers and monitors when not in use.
  • Turn off printers and fax machines overnight.
  • Activate energy-saving features on computers, and turn off screen savers.
  • Turn off lights when leaving the office.

Suggestions?
Let us know.

By making energy efficiency improvements, your company can reduce its consumption of fossil fuels and its contribution to the emission of greenhouse gases, as well as other pollutants.
 

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