The Secret to Energy Savings

Published on Friday, 19 February 2016 22:44:13    Written by Marc
Many people ask us various questions on the best way to find energy savings, and how can they make sure that they capture all the possible savings, for their buildings. For some, they are already engaged in the energy saving process, and it is simply a matter of having better tools to identify all the possible solutions and see how they can implement them in the most effective way possible. In this case, our conversation is very technical, we brainstorm the how’s and why’s of energy-saving possibilities.

For others; however, they are simply starting along what will be a long road towards improving their energy costs. They want to know how to get going, what is the first step, and then what is the second one. Some think that there is a secret way to do it, some esoteric practice that needs to be mastered before they can start, and because of this, some avoid taking the first step. Recently, we talked to a group, which had a large number of buildings, and they were hesitant to begin anything because they only saw the mountain of work in front of them. Their organization had no process for saving energy, no tools, and no centralized place to hold information. They did not even know how much energy each building consumed because many were grouped together on one meter. From the inside, they felt that they were never going to be able to get the ball rolling. From the outside; however, we could see this as a great potential for them to save money. With some of their buildings being well over 50 years old (and some of the main systems as old as the buildings themselves), their potential for saving is huge.

In this case, there is a secret to saving energy. That secret is, "start." Yes, just, "start." As the popular saying that a journey of 10,000 steps starts with the first one (or something like that). Start, means beginning by identifying the buildings that are the least efficient and then, looking at the low hanging fruit in these buildings. Once you can show some real savings, the process only gets easier from there because the initial wins, even small ones, can be used to go after bigger ones. Often the easiest way to do this second step, is to look at other buildings that would potentially have the same easy energy savings as the ones that were found on the first buildings, in essence replicating the energy-saving measures in other buildings.

Many people think that to show great energy savings, they need to invent something new, find an energy saving measure that has not been done before. In most cases, we find that there is no need to reinvent the wheel. If you managed to do a small measure and you can prove that it helped save energy, try to replicate it in another building. When you are starting out what you need is credibility (showing management that the money and other resources being put to find energy savings do reap in good benefits. The second thing that this process is doing is making you more comfortable with doing these measures. For example, if you started by doing a small lighting retrofit, and you can show savings, your chances of getting funds to do a second lighting retrofit have probably increased. In addition, with each new retrofit that you do, you get more at ease with the process, you start to plan better, and your execution improves as well.

One thing to remember while you are getting better in one type of energy-saving measure is not to be bogged down and only do that single measure repeatedly. We see this too often, where a company starts by doing a measure, gets good at it, and does only that afterwards. For example, while most people will start by identifying common items such as lighting and stick to doing lighting projects until they completed all their buildings, we must remember that lighting is only one group of energy saving measure and that are many groups of potential energy saving measures that are possible. Even if lighting remains a good energy saving measure, it is far from being an end in itself; often it is simply the beginning. Think of your first energy-saving measures (such as lighting retrofits) as a way to get your feet wet, not as an end in itself.