Don’t get left behind: the commercial energy policy impacting major markets across the U.S. Featured

9:01pm EDT September 30, 2011
Don’t get left behind: the commercial energy policy impacting major markets across the U.S.

Smart Business spoke to Edward Kubiak, Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Phoenix Energy Technologies, about why now is the time to investigate sustainability initiatives to reduce energy use and costs in commercial buildings.

Nowadays, it’s no secret that getting hip to being green is good for business. And, when you’re delivering a consumer product, the eye-catching appeal of green materials, green packaging and green marketing makes good sense. However, in a B2B environment, and more specifically the commercial real estate market, leveraging green marketing to drive business development and customer retention leaves many unsure where to begin.

In a perfect world, electricity in your buildings would run using solar panels. You’d build exclusively with sustainable materials, and plant with indigenous landscape. Your tenants would vehemently recycle. And, they wouldn’t run the lights and HVAC system carelessly and unnecessarily.

But, just because the world isn’t perfect (there will always be those who bypass the recycle bin for the garbage can), doesn’t mean it’s time to throw your hands up in the air. Because, there are sustainability initiatives that not only improve public perception through environmental and corporate stewardship, they also save you money (big money) down the road. In fact, in the case of sustainable energy initiatives it can be a very short road, with ROI happening in a matter of months, not years.

As social, economic and regulatory pressures mount, commercial building owners are increasingly asked to do more with less. Only, as it turns out, when it comes to energy, “asking” building owners to do more with less is quickly giving way to public policy that demands a new way of doing things. Enter the Commercial Energy Rating & Disclosure Policy, legislation that targets the single largest consumer of energy in North America. Consuming two-thirds of the nation’s power supply and emitting 40 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gases, this policy aims to bring energy transparency to the commercial building market for the first time ever.

I recently came across a report from BuildingRating (www.buildingrating.com), which I found to be compelling in more ways than one. In essence, the report details a framework for implementing a commercial energy rating and disclosure policy, indicating that systems which capture energy data are quickly evolving from a “nice to have” to a “have to have” for commercial buildings in major markets. The legislation, which has been passed in five cities and two states (New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Austin, California and Washington State), requires that commercial building owners post their facility energy-performance data via the Web, enabling potential tenants, peers, investors, and the general public to access building energy data. While these policies are currently in their infancy, as an energy veteran, this transformation in the commercial building space is nothing short of revolutionary. Building ratings, data transparency that could influence customer and prospect behavior, and a new sense of accountability further drive commercial building owners to seek energy management solutions that facilitate compliance and drive a competitive edge.

Back in August, Phoenix Energy Technologies provided a Smart Business Insights article on enterprise energy management, detailing the ways in which technology can be leveraged to turn sustainability challenges into increased profit and reduced costs. This latest legislative development only augments the increasing need for such technologies in the commercial space.

The power of an EEM system lies in that historical data that is collected and benchmarked (a requirement of the passed legislation). Then, real time data is gathered, normalized for variables such as weather and schedules, and analyzed, allowing users to compare past use to current use in order to identify potential issues. Most importantly, with this information easily accessible and in an easy-to-interpret format, Facility and Operations personnel are empowered with the data they need to take action that reduces consumption and costs.

In terms of the U.S. Commercial Energy Rating & Disclosure Policy legislation, an enterprise energy management system is worth its weight in gold. Absent an energy management system, the process is tedious, laborious, and error heavy (we’re only human). On the contrary, utilizing the technologies available in the rapidly expanding EEM market, an automated data collection process facilitates compliance with the most stringent of standards.

With many vendor solutions available, I encourage you to explore the marketplace to find the solution that best fits your needs. With rapidly evolving standards, you would be wise to consider those vendors that offer a nimble solution that is capable of evolving and changing with the times. Most often, I have found software solutions, as opposed to hardware solutions, to be ideal under these circumstances.

There are cases in which being fashionably late to the party makes good sense. In the case of energy management, delaying a good, hard look at your current energy strategy — an inevitable consequence of this fledgling legislation — only delays significant, long-term savings potential. To view a complete copy of the report referenced in this article, please visit:

http://www.buildingrating.org/Building_Energy_Transparency_Implementation_Report

Edward Kubiak is Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Phoenix Energy Technologies. Reach him at ekubiak@phoenixet.com.