by Andrew Ritch
For many building owners and property managers these days, there is a strong and growing interest in switching to cleaner energy sources. However, as many soon discover as they start to look into sustainability, going green can be complex.
How do you know where to start? Is converting to solar energy a good move?
What if you still have a lot of incandescent lights? Is it worth switching to LED first?
Should I be adding green space to my roof to help cut down on CO2?
And how about financing the various projects and knowing what types of tax incentives and rebates are available or if you even qualify for them?
These are all very good questions and important to answer before you commit too far to your green efforts. The reality is not having a well designed game plan on how to convert to clean energy can negatively impact your efforts and even result in failure in some cases.
The way to avoid this outcome is to utilize a Clean Energy Roadmap.
What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s exactly what you suspect it may be: a comprehensive strategy to evaluate a variety of potential upgrades that would reduce energy consumption and, if desired, enable a building to produce its own renewable energy. It can also be paired with innovative financing solutions to help pay for the various initiatives.
A Data Driven Process
A Clean Energy Roadmap (CER) analysis includes a list of tangible Energy Conservation Measures (ECM’s) that are accompanied by data analysis to support the decision making process. The list of potential clean energy upgrades is rank-ordered according to overall economic value. Or said differently, those projects with the most favorable economics are prioritized over those with, for example, longer cost payback periods.
Generally, a CER assists n the management of your entire energy spend to ensure that you’re paying the lowest cost for the gas and electricity you need, as well as a plan to invest in upgrades to the mechanical and electrical infrastructure of the building that reduce energy consumption and produce clean, renewable energy on-site. The net effect is providing you as building owner/manager with more control over your energy spend.
The process itself involves a multi-step approach, as follows:
Specific steps within the process include the following:
A detailed audit of existing lighting in the building, capturing:
Wattage, lumen output and foot-candle readings
Physical condition of fixtures
Design solution for exterior lightin
Product specifications for LED solution, including ROI, NPV and environmental impact
Bid(s) for installing prescribed lighting solution
An ASHRAE-Level II Audit of the building, to include:
Review existing design drawings, as-builts, submittals, O&M manuals
Description of current mechanical equipment including condition, age, and life expectancy
Utility consumption & conditioned building data analysis (temp, humidity, light levels)
Facility visits (inspection of equipment/systems/envelope/controls)
Level 2 energy model using Trane Trace software
Meeting with maintenance personnel to discuss past maintenance and upgrades
Identify building code issues
List of recommended modifications to and/or replacement of existing HVAC equipment and operations to reduce energy consumption
Estimate of available utility rebates and other forms of subsidy to reduce project cost
An assessment of the building to determine if a solar photovoltaic system could be feasible, as well as the estimated cost and energy production potential
An evaluation of financing solutions that meet financial and operational goals including the feasibility of PACE
Any large scale effort should have a governing plan and clean energy initiatives are no different. A CER tells you which projects should be undertaken, in what order and why. It’s your playbook to deliver the energy efficiency goals you’ve set out to achieve.
Donovan Energy is a clean energy project development company focused on energy procurement, energy efficiency, on-site renewable energy production, and energy project finance. If you are interested in learning more about how a Clean Energy Roadmap might help reduce energy consumption in your building, please contact us. We’re energy nerds and would love to help!