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The world is now more environmentally aware than it has ever been, and is trending towards a clean energy economy. However, this movement isn’t breaking news – it started many years ago.

Previously, we defined the major steps to combat global warming as: 

  1. Transition to 100% clean power
  2. Replace oil burning cars and trucks with electric vehicles
  3. Phase out polluting building equipment
  4. Modernize industry and infrastructure
  5. Repay our debt to coal producing communities

We also discussed options for achieving actionable results and sustainability; learning that our most actionable item was to, “Phase out polluting building equipment.”

According to the United Nations , buildings and their constructions account for, 36% of the global energy use and 39% of energy related carbon dioxide emissions.  In the United States alone, 40% of Energy consumption is attributed to buildings. By considering the buildings we live and work in, we can define opportunities to decrease energy use across many energy conservation measures (ECMs). There are several ECMs to consider, but today we are focusing on a few top areas that can move the needle and drive efficiency and ultimately impact the bottom line.

LED Lighting – by moving away from Incandescent Bulbs and fluorescents, the documented impacts are as follow:

  • Less Energy Usage
    Comparable LED Usage has been documented to 30% to as little as 3% of comparable incandescent bulbs
  • Longer Lasting
    10X longer than Florescent and 40X Longer than Incandescent bulbs.

There are many other advantages such as less heat, durability and chemical (Mercury) free that add to the list, but the bottom-line impact stems from less energy use and longevity of the product (replacement and maintenance cost). 

Mechanical and HVAC System Upgrades

These systems can encompass may different types of controls and equipment.  An April 2017 study from Facility Executive  illustrated a university campus where HVAC systems consumed 30% of the total building energy needed in library, student union, and classroom facilities; and in laboratory and research facilities, the HVAC energy consumption can be up to 60%. Few energy conservation methods (ECMs) deliver more than 35% savings for an entire university campus.  Some ECMs to consider:

  • Demand Control Ventilation
  • Pipe Insulation and Sealant
  • Intelligent Thermostats
  • Variable Speed / Frequency Drives
  • Electronically Commutated Motors
  • Boiler & Chiller Upgrades
  • Time delay Relays
  • Free cooling / Expanded Economizer Logic

Ultimately when considering ECMs, it comes down to what impacts the bottom line and creates the best return on investment (ROI).  Each building or campus is different and requires analysis.

Building Envelope Upgrades

A building envelope includes the physical barrier between the protected and unprotected elements such as air, water, heat, light, and noise transfer. One extremely important function of the envelope includes proper physical separation and insulation, making the building energy efficient. This it prevents the loss or gain (seasonal) of heat. The building envelope also includes the materials that make up the foundation, wall assembly, roofing systems, glazing, doors, and any other penetrations.  There are a variety of building and envelope requirements that make it necessary to inspect each as part of a walk-through survey. Upgrades to the building envelope can pay off easily by improving easy-to-identify issues but are not capable of being measured specifically like an upgrade to a piece of equipment.

By measuring real results across the nation, we are able to attribute a number of positive outcomes from improvement efforts. These are defined in the table below by; type of facility, EMC, monthly savings, cost of project, simple ROI, CO2 reduction and net monthly positive cash flow for the project including rebate and financing over a three-month snapshot. (Note: Actual Facilities documented in 2019 – Evolution Energy Partners, LLC)

(Note: Actual Facilities documented in 2019 – Evolution Energy Partners, LLC)

Type FacilityECM AppliedAnnual SavingsTotal cost of ProjectRIOAnnual CO2 Decrease
(lbs. CO2)
Net Annual Cashflow
Six — Multi-FamilyLighting and Intelligent Thermostats$56,028.00$141,517.0046%.08M$2,250.00
Healthcare FacilityLighting Upgrade$11,644.50$44,623.3359%$145.89
Full-Service Airport HotelLighting, Intel Thermostats, HVAC Re-fit$258,000.0043%1.9M
Medical office buildingLighting$11,776.00$31,252.00337%105K$4,302.00
Office BuildingLighting, EV station, Heat Pumps, BMS$100,075.00$389,047.0026%1.0M$7,031.00
SeminaryLighting$20,957.00$73,227.0029%300K$3,444.00
Office BuildingLighting$103,679.00$234,475.0044%1.2M$47,602.00
CasinoLighting, Intelligent Thermostats$76,034.00$142,256.0053%1.25M$42,012.00
UniversityLighting, retrofit, BAS, Cogen$315,994.00$2,221,264.0014%3.7M$69,011.00

By simply defining CO2 reductions, we can see a positive impact to the bottom line, but more exciting is defining these reductions with a positive cashflow. In aggregate:

  • Project Savings range from $12K to $316K
  • Relative RIO from 14% to 377%
  • Average RIO = 77% (43% taking out High and Low outliers)
  • Average CO2 Equivalent Reduction = 1.2M
  • All Projects Cash Positive for the life of the assets
  • All Projects had positive impact on the bottom line

Considering the documented impact of facility upgrade projects and referencing Bloomberg’s top four actionable GHG reductions, let’s reflect on the previous statement:

“When, Sustainability Measures have direct economic impact to corporations and individuals, they will be adopted and flourish.  If no significant economic impacts are defined, measured and realized, these initiatives may be enacted, be popular for a while, but without prolonged positive financial impact these initiatives will die.  Profit is king and impact to the bottom line will win over sustainability and the environment every day.”

Knowing what we know now, this statement is even more impactful than previously.  In many years of practice, there have been opportunities that have shown value, but none as real and actionable as defined herein.  If you own, rent or occupy a campus, facility(s) or building, where the responsibility of the energy spend is yours, these programs have real impact to the bottom line.

Dailey Tipton is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Evolution Energy Partners. Dailey is a seasoned Energy and Sustainability professional with over 30 years of experience in which he has focused on Energy, Compliance and Sustainability Software. To learn more about how Evolution Energy Partners can help your businesses, contact us.