Take Action in October — National Energy Awareness/Action Month!

October 6, 2015 by

Commercial buildings waste up to 30% of their energy, according to ENERGY STAR. Energy Action/Awareness Month in October is the ideal time for building owners and property managers to be more aware of the energy use of their facilities and occupants/tenants, and take action to implement products and processes to reduce energy use and costs.

Making your facilities more environmentally friendly has many benefits including:

  • Saving money
  • Reducing the carbon footprint
  • Getting some great public relations
  • Making occupants more productive
  • Gaining brand and community respect

From replacing existing lighting with CFLs or LEDs to installing motion sensors to automating thermostat controls to getting an energy audit, there are many ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy bills – from the ground up.

FEMP Office ChecklistCheck out this handy Office Energy Checklist from the Department of Energy‘s Federal Energy Management Program. It offers several energy-saving actions that can be implemented with minimal resources.

Wright State University Expected to Reduce Energy Use by 40% and save $35.8M

October 1, 2015 by

Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio has completed a multi-phase, campus-wide energy conservation project that, according to university executives, will help the 557-acre campus reduce energy use by 40% and save more than $35.8M in energy and operating costs over 15 years.

The innovative project was designed to improve energy efficiency, reduce deferred maintenance backlog and costs, and provide a more conducive learning environment for students. The university worked with ABM Building and Energy Solutions to improve building systems, retrofit lighting, and eliminate obsolete equipment across their 25 academic buildings, 26 student residential buildings, and world-class entertainment and athletics venue.

The comprehensive energy services and energy related capital improvement program was financed through a performance-based contract, with guaranteed savings at no initial cost.

Consisting of two phases, the annual audit for the first phase of the project reveals the improvements have reduced electricity use by 16.1% and gas usage by 3.3%, and exceeded the annual utility savings guarantee by $591,961! The audit for the second phase has not been completed but is expected to exceed guarantees as well.

Check out this short video featuring Wright State Associate Vice President of Facilities Management & Services Dan Papay and Vice President of Business & Finance/CFO/COO Mark M. Polatajko. In the video, they discuss the challenges they faced, the creative solutions they implemented, and the value it has brought to the university and the community.

Watch the complete video – Wright State University Benefits from Campus-wide Energy Conservation Project*. For more about ABM Building & Energy Solutions visit www.abm.com/energy.

* Information and promoted savings are a combination of project scope and results of both project phases.

New Presidential Actions to Drive Clean Energy Across the U.S.

September 15, 2015 by

To accelerate the nation’s transition to renewable energy and energy efficiency, President Obama announced a robust new set of executive actions and private sector commitments in August at the National Clean Energy Summit.

Driving Clean EnergyAccording to the whitehouse.gov release, the new actions expand opportunities to install energy saving technologies in households today while driving the development of innovative, low-cost clean energy technologies and creating jobs for the future.

Since President Obama took office, the U.S. has rapidly expanded its use of solar technology and empowered more households than ever to track and improve energy use. The U.S. Department of Energy has already put in place appliance efficiency standards that will save American consumers nearly $480B on their utility bills through 2030, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program continues to help save consumers more than $34B per year going forward.

The new initiatives will continue to promote the use and development of smart, simple, low-cost technologies to help Americans implement clean energy, reduce energy waste, and lower utility bills. They include:

  • Making $1B in additional loan guarantee authority available and announcing new guidelines for distributed energy projects utilizing innovative technology
  • Unlocking residential Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for single-family housing to make is easier for Americans to invest in clean energy technologies
  • Launching a new HUD and DOE program to provide home owners with a simple way to measure and improve the energy efficiency of their homes, by increasing homeowners borrowing power
  • Creating a DOD Privatized Housing Solar Challenge to provide solar power to housing on over 40 military bases across the U.S.
  • Announcing $24M for 11 projects in seven states to develop innovative solar technologies that double the amount of energy each solar panel can produce
  • Approving a transmission line that will support bringing online a 485-megawatt photovoltaic facility that will produce enough renewable energy to power more than 145,000 homes
  • Creating an Interagency Task Force to Promote a Clean Energy Future for All Americans; and announcing independent commitments from local governments, utilities, and businesses that are stepping up to drive energy efficiency in more than 300,000 low-income households and investing more than $220 million in energy saving activities for veterans and low-income customers to help decrease their energy bills

All of these actions demonstrate the President’s longstanding commitment to create a clean energy economy and build upon his existing energy goals that include:

  • Achieving an economy-wide target to reduce emissions by 26% – 28% below 2005 levels in 2025
  • Increasing the share of renewables – beyond hydropower – in their respective electricity generation mixes to the level of 20% by 2030
  • Installing 300 megawatts of renewable energy across federally subsidized housing by 2020
  • Doubling energy productivity by 2030

For more detailed information about the President’s new energy actions and commitments announced at the Clean Energy Summit, check out the complete whitehouse.gov article.

Barriers to Sustainability in the Healthcare Industry

September 5, 2015 by

With healthcare facilities generating more than 5.9 million tons of waste each year, contributing 8% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and spending $8 billion annually on energy alone (according to Practice Greenhealth), you would think sustainability would be the hottest trend in the healthcare industry.

Barriers to Healthcare Sustainability SurveyHowever, while it is slowly gaining momentum in the environmental services arena, there are several industry-wide challenges to be faced. Early results of Health Facilities Management’s 2015 Health Care Facilities Sustainable Operations Survey are revealing the top barriers to implementing sustainability in a healthcare setting.

According to the early survey analysis, the #1 challenge in establishing sustainable practices — noted by 68% of hospitals surveyed — is competing investments and spending priorities. This is the same top challenge that was identified in the organization’s 2013 survey.

Other barriers to sustainability highlighted by 2015 survey respondents include employee time limitations and not enough staffing to bring energy efficiency initiatives into fruition.

Healthcare Facilities Management (HFM) goes on to state their findings are right in line with what they are hearing from experts in the healthcare field. In a recent column, Soriant Healthcare Consultant Rock Jensen notes the conundrum of sustainability initiatives for hospitals. That is, despite the promises of long-term benefits, the up-front costs needed to proceed often stops many green projects in their tracks. He writes “hospital leaders don’t want to harm the ecosystem, but have to balance the benefits of sustainable products and processes against rising costs and decreased revenues.”

There are hospitals who are breaking the mold, moving forward with energy solutions, and reaping the rewards. The article calls out Peace Island Medical Center, who’s sustainable design concepts allow it to use one-third of the energy of a typical health facility in its area, and Gundersen Health System, who has used energy efficiency to reduce costs and slow fee increases.

Another innovative organization, Arnot Ogden Medical Center (AOMC), even found a way to implement a comprehensive energy retrofit program that will deliver $14.5M in guaranteed energy and operational savings without having to spend any upfront capital. They used a creative financing option from ABM that allowed them to leverage their future savings to fund the entire project!

For more details about the survey, be sure and read the HFM survey article. For more information on AOMC’s project, read this Energy Manager Today article.

3 Basics for Data Center Efficiency

August 29, 2015 by

Efficiency Tips for Data CentersAs the backbone of the modern economy, data centers support corporate America and the server farms that host such popular cloud computing services as Amazon, Facebook, and Google. As a result of this growth, data centers are now one of the fastest-growing users — and wasters — of electricity in the U.S. This also makes them a key driver in the construction of new power plants.

According to the NRDC, in 2013 U.S. data centers consumed an estimated 91 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity — enough to power all the households in New York City twice over — and are on-track to reach 140 billion by 2020.

We assume it is the largest, most well-known consumer and business data centers that hog the most energy. Actually, it’s the other smaller corporate data centers that uses the vast majority of energy. In fact, the average commercial office building spends close to one quarter of its annual energy bill powering server rooms and closets.

Why? According to a recent GreenBiz article, the quick answer is computer servers generate an enormous amount of waste heat. Just one rack of blade servers, for example, can generate heat equivalent to four gas barbecue grills, enough to cook nearly 300 burgers an hour.

Fortunately, the article goes on to note there are things that can be done to reduce data center energy consumption. The most efficient data centers and server rooms, for example, use up to 80% less power, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

The article lists the three basic ways to make server rooms and data centers more energy-efficient including:

1. Reduce the IT load

Saving just one watt of power at the server level can result in nearly three watts of total savings in a data center, because less power is consumed supporting the electrical infrastructure and cooling hot equipment. Strategies for reducing IT loads include server “virtualization” (which allows us to run more than one workload on a single server), consolidating lightly used servers and removing unused servers, smarter data storage, and buying more energy-efficient equipment, such as Energy Star qualified servers.

2. Manage airflow

Airflow management is about delivering cold air from AC units or fans to the fronts of servers as efficiently as possible, and removing hot exhaust air from the backs of servers as efficiently as possible. Airflow management strategies involve orienting server racks and enclosing them to reduce the mixing of cold supply air and hot exhaust air, using variable speed fan drives in AC units, and deploying devices to direct cold air to where it’s needed the most.

3. Control temperatures and humidity levels more efficiently

Because high temperatures and either damp or excessively dry conditions can harm sensitive data center equipment, temperatures and humidity levels must be managed. However, today’s data center equipment can tolerate much wider temperature and humidity ranges than in the past. As a result, it’s often possible to save energy by doing less cooling and humidification and dehumidification. Additionally, there are new, much more efficient ways to humidify air than the old standby of producing steam. Another strategy for reducing cooling costs includes deploying “economizers,” which take advantage of lower outside temperatures whenever possible to avoid having to mechanically cool air.

For even more steps on data center efficiency, read the complete GreenBiz article.