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Energy Efficiency Projects Made Easy: Direct Energy Business and The Efficiency Network

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On October 7 the Allegheny Conference on Community Development held an energy information session in Pittsburgh, in conjunction with the Green Building Alliance, to spotlight the advantages of energy efficiency projects to building owners and property managers. The takeaway was clear and concise: Efficiency projects cut costs, help achieve sustainability goals, and increase property value with oftentimes a relatively short payback.

In other words: a win-win-win.  

The session started with Troy Geanopulos, the CEO of The Efficiency Network (TEN), discussing initial complexities with energy efficiency projects. Where should we start? What contractors do we use? How can we get all the rebates available? When is the payback? Will Finance agree to this? A seemingly endless trail of questions building managers need to navigate becomes the main barrier to starting projects. But these obstacles turn into minor speed bumps with the increasing capacity in this space.

A brief background, TEN has developed a team that specializes in the completion of energy efficiency projects with $500M in project experience. They complete an energy audit to determine what projects make sense, what rebates are available, coordinate the contractors, and oversee the project management through completion.

After reviewing how to frame energy efficiency projects, a team from the global-leader property management firm CBRE presented one of their case studies about a 24-story building in downtown Pittsburgh. The building ownership wanted to update building systems, provide a more productive work environment for tenants, increase building value, and achieve higher LEED certification.

The total project included updating two existing boilers with high-efficiency models and work in conjunction with the energy recovery units. They updated existing lighting fixtures from 32W T8s to 25W controlled with occupancy sensors, installed over 450 garage unit light bulbs from 150W HPS or 79W LED replacing to 27W CFL, and removed ballasts. The garage electricity usage dropped more than half a megawatt. Water reducing units were also installed, dropping overall water usage by 5.6M gallons.

The project payback was just south of two years with local Act 129 rebates. Cost per square foot dropped $0.37, or 15%. Emissions dropped 2,503 metric tons. The building has gone from a 61 LEED rating to a current 75, approaching GOLD certification.

Overall, the property asset value increased by about $4.5M.

The session concluded with a financial roundtable of how efficiency projects can be funded. There are outside financing options with a capital expenditure. There are rebates that reduce project costs. However, with Direct Energy Business’ EfficiencyEdge, there is the option for on-bill financing with project costs being incorporated into either a gas or electricity commodity agreement. No capital expenditures, just a blend with a dollar per megawatt, or dekatherm, charge. The Direct Energy Business collaboration with TEN creates a way to achieve similar savings as the aforementioned downtown Pittsburgh property.

Participants at the conference left with a resounding message that tenant satisfactions, significant savings, sustainability goals, and property value increases can be achieved through experienced project management teams, and on-bill financing options such as the option offered by Direct Energy Business to make it easy to start down a sustainability path that’s also profitable for their business. 

Posted: October 29, 2014