In most organizations, there is a range of opportunities to minimize energy costs. In fact, one challenge for facility managers can be the difficulty of deciding what to address first.
One way to tackle that problem is to divide energy reduction efforts into three phases — energy efficiency, renewable energy, and supply management, says David Anderson, executive vice president, Ameresco.
“Understand your usage and reduce your energy load first,” says Anderson. “Energy efficiency measures are the most effective means of doing this.” Next up is the question of renewable energy. Renewables will not only reduce the consumption of fossil fuels — reducing the facility’s carbon footprint and supporting sustainability initiatives — but also provide some price certainty. The big question: Is it financially viable for an organization?
A third step is to bid your commodity energy requirements. “Good supply management will help ensure that you’re purchasing whatever remaining energy you need as cost-effectively as possible, which is particularly important in the current economic climate,” says Anderson.
It’s important to keep the basics in mind as the process of working with an ESCO unfolds. Good communication should be a priority from the very start of the project, as the project is being developed and before the final contract is signed. The facility manager should have clear expectations and know “exactly what’s being delivered in terms of costs and savings.” As the project proceeds, having a schedule for update meetings helps ensure that everyone is on the same page.
The market for products and services that can reduce energy costs is expanding every day, and facility managers should keep their eyes peeled for opportunities. “Be open to innovative solutions and generate as much competition as possible when seeking out vendors, services, and technology,” Anderson says. “This will help ensure that you have the greatest flexibility and the broadest spectrum of opportunities from which to choose.”