From TIP Capital

 

TIP Capital and ecoInsight have aligned their resources to present building owners with a competitive financing alternative to upgrade their properties to the latest energy efficient lighting technology while reducing their monthly utility costs.

 

More than $1.6 billion in energy retrofit upgrades occurred last year through financing versus a straight cash sale, said Sean McCloskey, CEO of ecoInsight. “TIP Capital’s flexible financing program was integrated into our mobile application to fulfill the growing demand in the marketplace and provide an efficient energy auditing and quoting tool for energy professionals to present budget-friendly upgrades to building owners.”

 

“Our iPad-to-cloud solution allows building sales professionals to efficiently conduct electrical and lighting audits, develop energy efficiency recommendations and generate financially-driven energy upgrade proposals,” he added. “Now, with our partnership with TIP Capital, our users also can generate a professional financing proposal and credit application for their customer.”

 

“Our main goal was to make it easy for our users to estimate financing payments and the associated impact on the cash flows of the energy upgrade project. Now, with a few clicks of the mouse, users are able to offer their customers an alternative to a large upfront ‘cash’ sale.”

 

“With access to this easy-to-use integrated financing solution and the obvious need in the energy efficiency market, ecoInsight and TIP Capital provide a competitive program to satisfy all parties involved – especially the project owner,” said Ross Reida, Vice President, National Accounts, TIP Capital Specialty Markets Group. “We believe this partnership will provide both energy professionals and building owners with an easy-to-use, affordable financing alternative that helps overcome budgetary constraints.”

 

For more information on ecoInsight’s innovative building energy audit software, visit www.ecoInsight.com. For information on TIP Capital’s financing programs, visit www.tipcapital.com.

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By Onset Computer

 

Employee productivity is affected by indoor environmental conditions at the workplace, and temperature is often a major factor. In fact, according to a 2009 survey by the International Facility Management Association, the most common comfort complaints expressed by office workers pertain to temperature. It seems that in any work environment – whether an industrial plant, office park, or hospital – at one point or another some employees will report being too hot and/or some will report being too cold.

 

Potential dollars lost in productivity due to employee discomfort can be substantial. With salaries typically making up more than 90% of the total operating cost of a commercial building, even tiny increases in employee productivity can mean a lot to the organization’s bottom line. A 2004 study by the Cornell Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory revealed that raising office temperature to a more comfortable range can save employers approximately two dollars per worker per hour, which translates to $200,000 yearly for a company of 50 employees.

 

Today, many building managers and owners are looking to increase energy efficiency, often making changes to their facility that can lead to comfort complaints. Actions such as installing sun screens, moving thermostats, altering day and night set points, and overall building recommissioning can affect occupant comfort, and therefore complaints may increase after these changes are implemented.

 

Although it can be challenging for any facility manager to juggle the various factors to consider when evaluating worker comfort – including the season, the clothing worn by individuals, whether workers are sedentary at their desks or moving about the room, and simple variation in temperature preferences – ASHRAE Standard 55 can serve as a guide. Standard 55, Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy, addresses the range of indoor thermal environmental conditions acceptable to a majority of occupants. It also describes and quantifies how air temperature, relative humidity, air flow, and occupant activity and clothing together create an indoor thermal environment.

 

Before determining the possible root cause of a comfort complaint (e.g., lack of proper zoning, poor workspace design, solar gain) and taking corrective action, facilities managers first must establish whether the subject area is in fact too hot or too cold.

 

To validate temperature-related comfort complaints, an increasing number of facilities managers and HVAC contractors rely on battery-powered data loggers. Data loggers are low-cost compact devices that incorporate high accuracy sensing, recording, and battery power in a self-contained package.

 

Data loggers can employ sensors that measure temperature, relative humidity, light, and other parameters, and they monitor and record data at user-defined intervals (minutes, hours, or days) and can collect data for months at a time. Many temperature loggers are small enough to be placed in out-of-the-way locations where they can gather information in a workspace without being seen or disturbed. They can also be used over and over again, so the investment in a few data loggers can pay off big, even in a large facility.

 

Continue reading here

 

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By David Pospisil, Program Manager of Con Edison’s Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Program

 

Buildings represent a large percentage of all the energy consumed in the United States. That’s why increasing the energy efficiency of buildings – especially existing ones – has become a major priority for many cities throughout the country. In addition to enhancing overall quality of life, transforming commercial and industrial properties combats climate change and fosters innovation that ultimately strengthens our economy.

 

This push for high-performance buildings has created a market ripe with innovations in building technology. Building technologies such as high-efficiency replacement motors, variable frequency drives (VFDs), lighting and controls for heating and cooling equipment are rapidly improving.

 

As these technologies continue to advance at an enormous pace, so must our approach to keeping building systems optimized and efficient. Keeping abreast of building technology has become much like staying on top of a business’ IT infrastructure. We don’t wait 10 years to upgrade computers because the technology improves at exponential rates. The same concept applies to building systems today. The longer a business waits to upgrade, the more that business ends up paying down the road.

 

The good news is that capital costs for energy-efficiency upgrades are declining and incentives are available to help businesses make smart investments in energy efficiency. In New York City and Westchester County, for example, commercial and industrial customers with a Con Edison electric or natural gas account may be eligible for the following incentives from Con Edison’s Commercial and Industrial Energy Efficiency Program:

 

  • Payment of up to 50% of costs, with a cap of $67,000, for a Level 3 energy audit
  • Rebates for high-efficiency electric and gas equipment including lighting fixtures and LED exit signs, packaged heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, motors, chillers, and water and steam boilers
  • Performance-based custom incentives for installing high-efficiency equipment or energy-saving solutions not eligible for equipment rebates

 

The Con Edison Green Team has an energy efficiency program available for almost every customer. To learn more about the Commercial and Industrial program or to find out which program is right for you, call the Green Team at 1-877-860-6118 or visit www.conEd.com/greenteam.

 

David Pospisil is Program Manager of Con Edison’s Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Program, New York, N.Y. You can join the discussion on LinkedIn (Con-Edison-Commercial-Industrial), Facebook (ConEd Green Team C&I), Twitter (ConEd Green Team C&I) and YouTube (ConEd Green Team C&I).

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By Ann Arney, an Energy Efficiency Specialist at CLASS 5 Energy in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

 

I don’t need anyone to tell me to turn off the lights.

We do that already.

We can save energy on our own.

Energy plans are expensive.

 

We’ve heard it all – behavior based energy efficiency is still a growing field, and with limited information, it can be hard to understand just what it involves.  Many organizations want to be more energy efficient, but hiring expensive consultants or doing a lot of building modification just isn’t in the budget.

 

Behavior based energy efficiency plans focus on the people, not the equipment.  By looking at energy use as something you, and the people around you can control, your organization can start seeing savings almost immediately.

 

Here are our top four myths about behavior based energy plans – BUSTED!

 

I can’t afford an energy plan of any kind.

An energy project’s “simple payback,” or how many years it will take to pay for itself, has been a standard way to measure energy investments for years. Behavior-based energy efficiency plans provide some of the highest ROIs because the strategies for reducing energy use and costs are generally no- or low-cost.  Choices like turning off lights, resetting thermostats and changing IT computer settings are completely free ways to positively affect your bottom line.  And while you can identify these strategies on your own, the most successful behavior change programs rely on a sustainable process like the CLASS 5 Plan to ensure ongoing buy-in and participation. If your organization spends $100,000 per year on utility bills (gas, electric, water, oil), you can repay the a behavior plan like CLASS 5’s in one year by reducing energy use only 4%.  Don’t believe it?  Start with the temperature – for each 1° F that you adjust your thermostat; you can save 1% of your heating and cooling costs.

 

I don’t need a behavior plan if I am investing in new equipment.

New equipment is exactly why you do need a behavior plan! Your boilers and air conditioners can have the highest ENERGY STAR® ratings possible, but if the systems they support are not running properly, are not calibrated, or are left to run even when the spaces they serve are not occupied, you will never see those savings. Building operators need the right information – and the support – that comes with being part of an organization-wide effort. Remember, ENERGY STAR labels guarantee that your equipment can run efficiently; behavior plans ensure that they will.

 

Behavior-based energy efficiency plans don’t save that much energy.

Yes they do!  Energy is a controllable cost, and something that we use every day – no matter where we are, or what our organization looks like.  Behavior-based energy efficiency programs can reduce an organization’s energy use and cost by 5-10% in the first year – and the knowledge gained will position those savings to continue to build month after month, year after year.  Our own CLASS 5 Plan is proven to result in significant savings – but we are not the only ones.  One European study of universities resulted in a 9.5% change over 28 months.  Starbucks believes in behavior-based plans so much so that they are piloting it in 10 stores.  The State and Local Energy Efficiency Network has studied behavior and energy in residents, while the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy sector studied it in military housing.  If the entire country changed just a few of their energy-use habits, the United States could save more 5 billion dollars per year!

 

Behavior-based plans are mostly about posters and tip sheets.

While it’s true that effective communications is a critical component of behavior-based energy efficiency plans, that is only the beginning. According to a report by ACEEE, successful energy behavior programs share several common strategies, including 1) setting the tone with the strong support of upper management, 2) building a team with a project committee and peer champions on board, 3) utilizing communication tools to reach target audiences, and 4) engaging building occupants by means of social norms, feedback, benign peer pressure and competition, as well as performance-linked rewards.

 

Behavior-based energy efficiency is based in psychology and the social sciences.  It uses an organizational change management process that helps to make energy efficiency the social default within an organization. Once that occurs, the sky’s the limit when it comes to energy savings. Roughly 41% of total U.S. energy consumption in 2010 was used in buildings. Energy behavior programs, which can play a significant role in improving building energy efficiency, remain largely absent from many companies’ sustainability programs.

 

What are people waiting for?  The cumulative effects of what each of us do can either do more harm or do more good – which choice is your organization going to make?

 

Ann Arney is an Energy Efficiency Specialist at CLASS 5 Energy in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. CLASS 5 is a consulting and development firm which helps organizations save energy through behavioral programs and tools.  Click here for information, and to contact CLASS 5 Energy.

 

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By David Pospisil, Program Manager of Con Edison’s Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Program

 

Natural gas is an efficient, safe, and reliable fuel source. It costs less than heating oil, and is one of the cleanest-burning fuels available. If you are not currently using natural gas in your building, converting to natural gas is a wise choice for property owners who want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the air quality in your community.

For buildings already using natural gas, there are ways to minimize equipment replacement costs, lower operating costs and enhance the overall value and infrastructure of your property. One way is to commission an energy efficiency study to evaluate your property’s energy use and learn how to increase its energy efficiency. Regular maintenance and tune-ups to natural gas heating systems, as well as upgrading to high-efficiency furnaces, boilers and controls are often worthy investments.

Federal, state or utility rebates and incentives can offset the cost of energy-efficiency upgrades and provide an attractive return on your investment. In New York City and Westchester County, for example, commercial and industrial customers with a Con Edison natural gas account may be eligible for the following incentives from Con Edison’s Commercial and Industrial Energy Efficiency Program:

  • Payment of up to 50% of costs, with a cap of $67,000, for an ASHRAE Level 3 energy audit
  • Rebates for high-efficiency gas equipment including furnaces, boilers, infrared heaters, heat exchangers, controls, process heating, system tune-ups, and pipe insulation
  • Performance-based custom incentives for installing high-efficiency equipment or energy-saving solutions not eligible for equipment rebates.

The Con Edison Green Team has an energy efficiency program available for almost every customer. To learn which program is right for you, call the Green Team at 1-877-860-6118 or visit www.conEd.com/greenteam.

David Pospisil is Program Manager of Con Edison’s Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Program, New York, N.Y. You can join the discussion on LinkedIn (Con-Edison-Commercial-Industrial), Facebook (ConEd Green Team C&I), Twitter (ConEd Green Team C&I) and YouTube (ConEd Green Team C&I).

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By David Pospisil, Program Manager of Con Edison’s Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Program

 

With summer upon us, now is the time for businesses to take steps to save energy before the temperature rises. Upgrading to high-efficiency cooling equipment and lighting are two ways businesses can use less energy and improve comfort this summer. Here are some specific tips to stay cool, save energy and keep energy costs under control.

 

Cooling Equipment

  • Upgrade air conditioning equipment with properly sized units that have a high energy efficiency ratio (EER)
  • Replace old motors with properly sized premium efficiency motors that operate at a lower annual cost
  • Install variable frequency drives (VFDs) on large motor loads to further reduce energy usage
  • Upgrade old chillers with new, energy-efficient units
  • Install an energy management system (EMS) that uses temperature set points and operating schedules to optimize climate control

 

Lighting & Lighting Controls 

  • Replace fluorescent lights that use magnetic ballasts with more efficient models using electronic ballasts
  • Install automatic, occupancy sensor room-lighting controls to turn lights on or off depending on occupancy or time of day
  • Change out incandescent or fluorescent exit signs with LED exit signs
  • Turn off or dim electric lighting when adequate sunlight is available to illuminate interior space

 

If you’re planning on improving your building’s energy performance this summer, check to see what funding may be available in your area. In New York City and Westchester County, for example, commercial and industrial customers with a Con Edison electric or natural gas account may be eligible for the following incentives from Con Edison’s Commercial and Industrial Energy Efficiency Program:

  • Payment of up to 50% of costs, with a cap of $67,000, for a Level 3 energy audit
  • Rebates for high-efficiency electric and gas equipment including lighting fixtures and LED exit signs, packaged heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, motors, chillers, and water and steam boilers
  • Performance-based custom incentives for installing high-efficiency equipment or energy-saving solutions not eligible for equipment rebates

 

The Con Edison Green Team has an energy efficiency program available for almost every customer. To learn which program is right for you, call the Green Team at 1-877-860-6118 or visit www.conEd.com/greenteam.

 

David Pospisil is Program Manager of Con Edison’s Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Program, New York, N.Y. You can join the discussion on LinkedIn (Con-Edison-Commercial-Industrial), Facebook (ConEd Green Team C&I), Twitter (ConEd Green Team C&I) and YouTube (ConEd Green Team C&I).

 

 

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By David Pospisil
Guest Blogger, Energy Efficiency Markets
July 11, 2012

 

Making schools energy efficient need not be an exercise in sacrifice. Schools can get the same or better services, as well as increase the health and comfort of students and staff, all while using less energy.

 

The first step is to get an energy assessment that can help identify and prioritize opportunities for substantial energy and operational savings. Once these opportunities are identified, a school can develop a customized plan to reduce energy use, replacement and operating costs, and their carbon footprint. Common energy-saving measures for schools include installing high-efficiency lighting and lighting controls; heating, cooling and ventilation equipment; and motors, controls and variable frequency drives.

 

Incentives from government and/or utility-based programs may be available to help pay for the cost of an energy audit and/or energy efficiency upgrades. These rebates and incentives help schools lower the capital investment required to implement energy-saving strategies and technologies, as well as provide an attractive return on investment and payback due to savings on maintenance and energy costs.

 

In New York City and Westchester County, for example, schools with a Con Edison electric or natural gas account may be eligible for the following incentives from Con Edison’s Commercial and Industrial Energy Efficiency Program:

  • Payment of up to 50% of costs, with a cap of $67,000, for a Level 3 energy audit
  • Rebates for high-efficiency electric and gas equipment including lighting fixtures and LED exit signs, packaged heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, motors, chillers, and water and steam boilers
  • Performance-based custom incentives for installing high-efficiency equipment or energy-saving solutions not eligible for equipment rebates

 

Check to see what funding may be available in your area.

The Con Edison Green Team has an energy efficiency program available for almost every customer. To learn which program is right for you, call the Green Team at 1-877-860-6118 or visit www.conEd.com/greenteam.

 

David Pospisil is Program Manager of Con Edison’s Commercial & Industrial Energy Efficiency Program, New York, N.Y. You can join the discussion on LinkedIn (Con-Edison-Commercial-Industrial), Facebook (ConEd Green Team C&I), Twitter (ConEd Green Team C&I) and YouTube (ConEd Green Team C&I).

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By John A. “Skip” Laitner

 

I’ve long had a tradition of taking time on July 4th to reflect on our State of the Union.  In past years, for example, I’ve read Howard Zinn’s, A People’s History of the United States.  It’s a very good book with an entirely different perspective on the historical development of our nation.  Zinn provides us, as educator Kathy Emery suggests, with a sense of “the human impact, the human cost of decisions made by politicians and businessmen.” I highly recommend it to everyone within our policy community. And this year, perhaps for obvious reasons, I decided to focus on the court case, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. This, of course, refers to the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare.

 

There is a lot to study in the 193 pages that form the opinions found in this decision.  Yes, a lot to read, and I have not done so.  Instead, I’ve read a series of Op Eds by David Brooks, Paul Krugman, Linda Greenhouse (who reported on the U.S. Supreme Court for The New York Times from 1978 to 2008), Steve Chapman (a member of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board), and  Richard W. Garnett (University of Notre Dame law professor who clerked for former Chief Justice William Rehnquist). Among others.  And more critically, I’ve read what I can of those various opinions to see how the Supreme Court decision might shape future policies and legislation about energy efficiency and climate policies.  Right away I conclude that we have a problem.

 

The five national telephone surveys done immediately following the decision found Americans as divided as ever on Obamacare.  Despite the large number of clear winners (with few losers as Krugman suggests), the Supreme Court’s ruling seems to assure that the debate surrounding the law will rage on for the foreseeable future.  And how is it, we may ask, that this does not bode well for energy efficiency and climate change policies?  The reasons are two-fold: First, the decision restrains the power of the federal government to sanction the states.  And, perhaps most important, it appears to restrain future Congressional power.  Second, it has inflamed conservatives disappointed by the ruling, but who are delighted with the language on the commerce clause.  If we think about it, a good bit of the policies that we advocate rely on the commerce clause.

 

As David Brooks writes, “over the years, the commerce clause in the Constitution has been distorted beyond recognition, giving Congress power to regulate all manner of activity (or inactivity). [Chief Justice Roberts and the decision] redefined the commerce clause in a way that limits the power of Washington. Congress is now going to have to be very careful when it tries to use the tax code and other measures to delve into areas that have, until now, been beyond its domain.” That argument, and now a supreme court interpretation, may eventually impact everything from food and product safety to energy efficiency performance standards – or at least make it that much harder for us to advocate broad policies promoting energy efficiency at the scale necessary to enhance our economy and protect both climate and the environment.

 

As a result of this decision we have an unexpected outcome – that the interpretation of the Constitution may play a much more prominent role in shaping all future domestic policies.  It will be even harder to pass smart legislation. Law Professor Richard Garnett writes: “We confront, as a political community, many pressing challenges, and it is easy — too easy — to think that what matters most is that good policies are enacted, now, and ‘by any means necessary.’ But our Constitution has a lot more to say about how decisions are made than about which decisions are made.”

 

What might be the implications of all this?  The word ‘government’ comes from the word ‘governance’ that, in turn, derives from the Greek verb kubernáo which means to steer or navigate. If we really believe in the economic imperative of energy efficiency then we may need to actively explore new mechanisms of governance – including incentives as technology prizes, real and meaningful feedback, and well beyond Nudge, the shifting of our norms, our behavior and our culture at scale and in China time. Yes, we absolutely must use various forms of government to ensure our social and economic well-being, but we also must learn to steer in many other ways.  We cannot do this merely by laying out the idea of cost-effectiveness. We must look at the problem anew. We must be willing to explore the human condition in new ways and examine how it is that people and societies might shift from the old 19th century paradigm of energy supply to a more appropriate paradigm that embraces the appropriate and sustainable use of energy, water, and resources.

 

How to follow up on this outcome? My thought is that ACEEE and others develop a new set of governing principles and model legislation that relies less on conventional governmental solutions and more on new ways to promote energy efficiency at scale.  If we really value the work we all do, and if we really believe in the vital contribution of energy efficiency, I then suggest the policy community develop the equivalent of a War Room strategy (perhaps framed differently). The strategy should anticipate and articulate the need for a dramatically different approach to ‘governance’ (not just government) than we have traditionally followed. If neither ACEEE nor others are successful in that respect, then to paraphrase Tom Friedman, we are all in for a hard decade that will lead to a bad century. Yes, I think it is that critical.

 

John A. “Skip” Laitner

Energy and Resource Economist

Tucson, Arizona

See The Desert Year More By Waste Than Ingenuity?

 

This blog post does not reflect the official opinion or views of ACEEE, its board or its staff.

 

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By Danielle Rodabaugh

 

The utilities and energy sector is a booming market. Of course there will always be plenty of demand for the services provided by companies in the industry. To ensure the market continues to thrive, though, utility companies must ensure they’re fully paid for the energy they supply. So how do energy providers ensure that they’ll be paid, especially when working with clients who consume enormous amounts of energy?

 

There’s a special type of insurance called surety bond insurance that most people, including those in the utilities and energy sector, know little about. Most commercial bond types function as license and permit bonds that guarantee professionals work according to industry regulations. Utility bonds, however, function as financial guarantees. Whereas most surety bond types protect government agencies and the general public, the financial guarantees provided by utility bonds protect utility companies.

 

A simple definition explains that surety bonds bring together three separate entities to ensure a specific task is performed. When it comes to utility bonds, the principal is the client who purchases the bond as a promise that all future utility bills will be paid on time and in full. The bond’s obligee is the utility company that requires the bond as a way to prevent financial loss when clients fail to make appropriate payments. The surety is the insurance company that underwrites the bond and provides a financial guarantee that the client will pay all utility bills.

 

When a client is expected to consume a significant amount of energy each month, the utility provider might require the company to purchase a bond before turning power on in the building(s). For this reason utility bonds are typically required of large corporations such as manufacturing companies. Deciding which clients need to purchase utility bonds is ultimately up to the discretion of individual utility companies.

 

If a bonded client does fail to make a payment, then the utility company can make a claim against the bond. If the claim is found to be valid, the surety will use the bond’s funds to reimburse the utility company in an amount not to exceed the bond’s penal sum. Surety bond insurance does not work as does traditional insurance, however, as the insurance company will seek reimbursement from the principal if a claim is paid out to the utility company. This serves to keep large companies from skirting their utility bills under the assumption that their surety will simply pay a claim. All claims paid are expected to be reimbursed, so sureties pursue collection from those who fail to uphold their payment obligations.

 

Due to the losses they’ve incurred from recent claims, surety providers are currently hesitant to issue many utility bonds. This means that clients can have trouble getting surety bonds as required by their energy providers. Because insurance companies intend to avoid claims, they’re extremely picky when reviewing surety bond applications. If an applicant’s financial credentials suggest the client might default or fail to pay future utility bills, the surety simply won’t issue a bond. When large consumers of energy, such as warehouses or manufacturing plants, are unable to get utility bonds as required, utility companies will not take them on as clients.

 

Danielle Rodabaugh is the chief editor of the Surety Bonds Insider, a publication that tracks developments within the surety industry. As a part of the publication’s educational outreach program, Danielle provides information to leading industry professionals to help them better understand surety bond intricacies.

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