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New York City Businesses: What is a Commercial Energy Management Plan?


What is a Commercial Energy Management Plan and How Can it Help Your Business?

In the concrete jungle that's New York, the discussion on energy efficiency must start with buildings. Commercial buildings account for aproximately 30% of New York City's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Around 40% to 60% of the overall energy consumption in the average commercial office building can be traced to the energy consumed by leased office space.

Conversations around New York energy consumption are being driven by the local administration as well as commercial building owners. The One City: Built to Last plan, for instance, aims to lower emissions associated with buildings by 30% by 2025, taking 2005 as baseline. On a longer-term basis, the intention is to lead technical studies to identify steps to further reduce emissions by 80%, by 2050, from the same baseline.

 Recently, Mayor Bill de Blasio launched the NYC Carbon Challenge for Commercial Owners and Tenants, expanding the partnership between owners and tenants, who have committed to slashing GHG emissions from their buildings by 30% or more in ten years. To realize these gains, both parties must collaboratively identify strategies to implement energy efficiency projects in their building. This commitment ties into the One City initiative, and one of the factors working in its favor is that it will be jointly implemented, increasing the possibility to find unique, innovative, creative solutions than what each party could individually hope to identify on its own.

 Undoubtedly, these commercial owners and tenants will be brainstorming on a solid commercial energymanagement plan, foundational to realizing the kind of energy savings they're aiming for. Let's look at what a New York commercial energy management plan looks like. 

 What is it?

An energy management plan helps to identify various economical options and solutions for energy production and consumption. It is a roadmap whose objective is to significantly reduce the energy use of a building while also improving the building's productivity.

 The goals and commitments of a New York business energy management plan can be:

  • Reducing energy by x% over the next year. Companies must target more than 2% to make a meaningful difference.
  • Reducing energy consumption by xx% by 2021.
  • Reducing total cost of electricity by xx%
  • Purchasing x% of power from renewable sources such as wind, solar, hydropower or biofuels
  • Putting together an energy management team to oversee the implementation and supervision of the roadmap.
  • Utilizing a sustainability scorecard to track performance and make improvements dynamically.

It is important to note that energy efficiency and energy management are distinct from each other.  Energy management is a strategic action plan designed to achieve energy efficiency. The energy management marketplace is quickly evolving, with the introduction of new technologies and products engineered to meet efficiency targets and lower costs.

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What are the benefits?

It is an accepted fact that lowering New York City's energy use delivers environmental benefits. By minimizing their buildings' energy utilization, commercial owners will be reducing their carbon footprint and doing their bit for the local communities. Regardless of the extent of dependency on fossil fuels and the scale of operations, there are viable ways to manage energy without jumping through many hoops. The business benefits are also clear, as briefly outlined below:

  1. Companies that have implemented energy management programs can achieve bigger savings than those that haven't. This is because energy usage is reviewed and managed on an ongoing/scheduled basis across the entire organizations, plugging gaps and deploying the best solutions without much delay.

  2. It is reasonable to expect an organization to cut its energy costs by at least 20%. It is possible to save around 10% on energy costs without requiring to make an upfront investment. A well-crafted New York commercial energy management program has the potential to lower costs by one-third.

  3. Eco-responsibility makes a big statement about what the company stands for, and enhances its reputation in the minds of customers, suppliers and other stakeholders. Stating the use of renewable energy and energy-efficient operations can also give the company's product/services a slight but not unsubstantial competitive edge.

  4. By ensuring that energy is not wasted, you're bringing down operating costs, and freeing up capital for other purposes.

  5. It has been observed that employees working in an energy-efficient environment are more productive. The rationale is that their workspaces are not too hot or cold, well-lit and optimally ventilated. Studies have shown that energy efficient healthcare facilities offer a slew of direct and indirect benefits.


Basic steps of a commercial energy management plan

There are several ways to improve a commercial building's energy efficiency to the desired degree. Owners target continuous improvement in line with the feasible goals identified through consultation and assessment. Some factors that are inevitably discussed include budget versus payback, and the most appropriate solutions – existing/established and emerging. This understanding is critical to make informed decisions and create a mindset focused on energy accountability.

  1. Measuring energy usage
    Figuring out areas, processes and people that consume substantial energy, and analyzing the impact of these groups on overall consumption. The company could set an energy usage baseline by installing power metering devices in the building.
  1. Incorporating smaller, easily doable solutions
    These efforts include installing devices that consume less energy or an energy-efficient transformer. Though this is more of a passive approach, the overall impact is limited.
  1. Make automation a part of the plan
    The automation and regulation of building systems can help in curbing energy wastage on an ongoing basis. Tactics can include occupancy sensors that automatically turn the lights on upon detecting human presence, or HVAC controls that regulate heating and cooling, maintaining them at optimal levels on a day-to-day basis.
    These are the active approaches in a New York commercial energy management plan. Demand response is a popular solution in this regard; here, pre-set loads are turned off when electrical rates reach a specific threshold.
  1. Supervision and control
    A good energy management plan ensures that energy and cost savings don't diminish or disappear over time.

 A reliable energy management partner is an integral cog in the energy management wheel, helping companies make suitable changes and identifying the incentives and rebates they qualify for, among  other functions.

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