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Guidelines for Building an Energy Management Strategy

Energy Management GuidelinesEnergy efficiency is a hot topic, and it seems more and more funding is allocated to this sector every day. Despite the increased focus, many organizations don’t know where to start. There are many tools and programs available (most are free) that can help organizations or individuals develop a comprehensive energy management plan to control costs and increase your bottom line.

Where to Start?

One of the best sources available is the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. Why? Well first because the program is free, and second because the program is good.  Based on the successful practices of ENERGY STAR partners, the EPA has developed guidelines for establishing and running an effective energy management program. Statistics show that organizations that formally adopt a comprehensive approach to energy management achieve significantly greater results than those without formal energy management programs. To get started, check out the ENERGY STAR Guidelines for Energy Management.

Step One: Make a Commitment

Form a dedicated team to set goals, track progress and be the on-site "Energy Leader" for your business.  Senior management should have a written policy to drive the organization's culture and operational behaviors.

Step Two: Assess Performance

Benchmarking energy use is a first step to assess energy performance and to measure ongoing progress.  To get started collect past energy use data and continue to document it over time.  Free online tools including the EPA’s Portfolio Manager and Target Finder enable building owners and managers to rate their individual commercial buildings on a scale of 1 to 100 against similar buildings, track energy performance, and target investments in energy efficiency.

What if my building rating is already above 75? Skip to Step 7.

Step Three: Set Goals

Utilizing the results of your benchmark, the "Energy Leader" and senior management should develop the organization's goals.  Goals can vary from reducing energy use by 10% to becoming LEED certified, but ultimately the goals should be realistic, timely, attainable, measurable, and a little bit of a stretch. 

Step Four: Create an Action Plan

There are several resources available to help pinpoint areas for improvement.  If you are interested in finding specific projects to implement that will reduce energy costs and have qualified staff available, Washington State University’s Energy Audit Workbook is free to download.  If LEED certification is your goal, an energy audit meeting the requirements of ASHRAE Level 1 and 2 is essential, and the guidelines can be purchased for a nominal fee.

Check with your local utility or government to take advantage of available rebates and technical assistance. A national listing of programs is available here. In many cases, the cost of hiring an outside engineering firm to perform the energy audit will be paid in full as long as you commit to implement cost effective projects. Sprinkle in federal tax credits of up to $1.80/ft2 for qualifying energy efficiency improvements, and we’re talking about serious money.

Step Five: Implement the Action Plan

Communicating your program to all employees has a critical impact on the overall success. Execution of the plan is dependent on the acceptance, awareness and commitment of your peers and operational efficiencies can be attained when all employees are motivated to see the program succeed.  

Step Six: Evaluate your Progress

As projects are implemented be sure to evaluate your progress and communicate the results with your fellow employees.  Energy savings from measures that are not weather dependent, such as, lighting are easily demonstrated and usually will show up in the form of lower monthly energy bills. Energy savings from measures that are weather dependent, such as, heating and air conditioning are a bit harder to demonstrate as performance is based on weather conditions that can vary from year to year. The most common method of “weather normalization” is by comparing the electric and/or natural gas use versus outside air temperature or degree days. If you are good at statistics, then perform a regression analysis with the data, or if Excel is your thing, a simple trend line will do the trick.  Once results are established many organizations will use this data to create new action plans, identify best practices, and set new performance targets.

Step Seven: Recognize Achievements

We are all human and enjoy recognition for good deeds, so recognizing the people in your organization that significantly contributed to your program is extremely important. Outside of the individual, your organization deserves to be recognized for making the commitment to reduce energy use and subsequently green house gas emissions. One common method is by earning the ENERGY STAR Label.  Buildings can earn the ENERGY STAR by achieving a score of 75 or higher on EPA’s energy performance rating system and meeting relevant requirements for indoor air quality.  These buildings typically use 35 percent less energy than average buildings. Through 2008, more than 6,200 top performing buildings earned the ENERGY STAR for being energy all stars. In order to receive recognition, a professional engineer certifies the building’s past energy performance and tests several parameters to make sure the building meets all requirements for indoor air quality. To find a qualified PE, use the EPA’s Professional Engineer directory, or you can always call us.

MWE2 is a proud ENERGY STAR partner and provides assistance to help businesses implement a comprehensive energy management strategy. For further information, please contact Kyle Dunn, PE at 630-219-1615 or kdunn@mwe2.com.

MWE2 ENERGY STAR Partner

  • Posted on   10/02/09 at 07:50:00 AM   by Kyle  | 
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Tagged with energy efficiency, emissions, energy consumption, ASHRAE Energy Audit

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