This is the third in a series of posts from guest contributor George Belich with a focus on Progressive Energy Management. Today’s topic is the “Low Hanging Fruit” of energy saving programs and we welcome your input. George is President of Energy ISA LLC and has 35 years of experience in the energy industry.
Progressive & Strategic Energy Management
The previous post: Progressive Energy Management Wins Every Time provides context on the importance of timing and sequencing when engaging in Strategic Energy Management. When the sequencing of these tasks is ordered by ease of implementation, we call this methodology Progressive Energy Management.
This concept is well known within the industry, and is the idea that after the initial assessments you start with the ‘Low Hanging Fruit’ first, and proceed with more difficult tasks and projects within an energy program. These are targets or goals which are easily achievable and which do not require a lot of effort. Effort is a perceptive action so let's say no bending, stretching or running. Oh yes, not a lot of spending money either.
While low-cost no-cost measures are a great offer to customers, it is vital to stress these must be implemented under a broader energy policy or plan - and this is the key difference between typical energy consulting and true Strategic Energy Management.
(Download the Energy Management Association’s Guideline on SEM)
The Low Hanging Fruit
The following set of measures and customer options are generally low cost options and relatively simple projects to execute.
Renewable Generation - While renewables have historically not made the list of low hanging fruit, the explosion of cost effective options means this category needs serious consideration, and is often an area where traditional energy managers and consultants need help getting up to speed. Solar and Wind energy are now the low cost leaders in many markets, and if your state or utility has policies in place to allow ‘offsite’ or ‘virtual’ PPAs, this can be one of the most simple actions an end user can take to meet their Energy Management goals. Renewable Generation can meet organizations 2020 goals and save money in the process. These projects are often the first step an organization takes before implementing and installing onsite renewable projects across their portfolio. (want to learn more? Here is a roundup of the latest biz renewables news).
Utility rates and bills - Another category that is often overlooked is the general management and optimization of an end user’s existing utility relationship. Utility Bill Management, Auditing, Rate & Tariff Optimization, aggregating meters and load, competitive procurement and solicitations...depending on the end customer and their energy profile - this can be a very ripe set of fruit to harvest. Understanding your options in each of these categories is crucial in creating and implementing Progressive Energy Management.
Plug load - Here is a great document on the importance of Plug Loads from the Federal GSA, one of the largest adopters of plug load management in the world. As a building becomes more efficient, and as new plug technologies become more common, this demand source can become significant. The problem is this end use category is often overlooked, despite the prevalence of many low cost plug load management solutions - and several utilities actually incentivize these purchases!
Lighting - Lighting is often the first thing people look to when identifying the low hanging fruit of building efficiency and its impact is well known throughout the industry. One observation we have is that in some cases LED lighting is now cost effective WITHOUT going through a utility program. We all recognize the hoops that need jumping through when applying for incentive dollars, and now that you may be able to meet your requirements without an incentive - this low hanging fruit becomes even more powerful.
Shutting lights off with timer or motion sensors. Human nature shows that we are slow to get started on the work day but fast to get out. So fast leaving that we forget to turn the lights off. Simple sensors and timers make this very easy to do.
HVAC Controls - Upgrading or retro-commissioning heating and cooling systems is an obvious place to look for quick savings and impact. RTU or rooftop units are some of the most common categories of low hanging fruit. What many people don’t realize is the advance of cloud based software and IoT can now allow you to optimize existing HVAC equipment remotely and automatically, quickly identifying when failures and replacements are needed, saving a lot of money by avoiding emergency repairs.
Too hot or too cold. Thermostats can be adjusted too easy and are probably too high or too low depending on the season. Install a 'smart' thermostat and set your office schedule up and lock it down from being changed all the time. Adjust as people provide input.
Basic set point changes - The ‘smart thermostat’ is an easily recognizable piece of low hanging fruit that many are familiar with. If you can measure your set point, you can manage it and that is why this particular technology has become so popular. Utilities have expanded their programs and offerings in this category, and it is worth a review of the latest offerings to make sure you are up to date in this rapidly growing field.
Next Up: Hard Charging
Taking Progressive Energy Management to the next level. The above is "minimal" effort approach to managing energy but can easily lead into the further questions and thoughts to move into a more 'hard charging' brand of actions.
If you are familiar with low hanging fruit and want to understand how important it is to tie in to Progressive Energy Management - utilize our free resource to guide you through this process: