Energy Inefficiency Could be Costing Your Business a Fortune-Here's How (and What You Can Do About It)!
The nation's small businesses spend over $60 billion annually on energy. Utility costs are one of the top five operating expenses for most enterprises. Whether you're a small, medium-sized or large company, you will want to bring down your energy costs and pare down your operating budget as much as possible. As a New Yorker or a New York based business, you will want to focus on your building's energy efficiency and create a roadmap for energy and cost savings.
New York is one of America's most-energy efficient cities, but...
Our large-scale use of mass transit is one of the chief reasons why we're viewed as more efficient than other cities. However, the story is quite different when it comes to our buildings, especially energy-hungry commercial ones.
On an average, New Yorkers consume more energy in buildings and less energy driving than Americans. 75% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions occur from activities within buildings, such as heating, cooling, lighting, appliances and so on. Overall, in the United States, energy used in buildings makes up 39% of GHG emissions. As you can see, energy expenditure and GHG emissions associated with New York's buildings surpass the rest of the country.
Heating accounts for the biggest share of energy use in buildings, while cooling-related energy usage is one of the lowest in this category. This, however, can change depending on large fluctuations in climatic conditions. If your building's heating and cooling efficiency hasn't yet come under the scanner, you're probably already spending a small fortune in utility. In 2015, New York had the eighth-highest average electricity prices in the country, though this is down from fourth-highest back in 2014.
It's not just about cost
Research strongly suggests that energy efficient buildings attract higher occupancy rates and greater asset value compared to their energy inefficient counterparts. Naturally, lower electricity bills are a big draw for tenants seeking office space. Businesses are increasingly developing leasing policies that require the workplace to be environmentally-friendly. Employees and consumers have also been seen as being more enthusiastic about associating with businesses that they perceive to be eco-responsible. So, costs apart, businesses can benefit in a number of direct and indirect ways from regulating their energy expenditure and communicating their green stance.
Cutting down on energy usage doesn't mean that businesses have to somehow compromise with comfort or performance. America's most energy-efficient buildings utilize 35% less energy than typical buildings without sacrificing production or employee well-being.
The good news is that businesses have a number of options to manage and fine-tune energy efficiency. A robust roadmap of strategic steps of actions informed by assessments and periodically measured for outcomes, can put businesses on the path to energy efficiency into the future. Here's a look at some ways in which businesses are addressing their energy expenditure intelligently.
Almost 23% of New York's electric power comes from multiple renewable sources, mainly hydroelectric, followed by wind, solar and biomass. Building designs and technologies are already using solar and geothermal energy for heating and cooling spaces, as well as heating water. With many options to choose from, you can determine which one makes the best sense for your business.
Studies indicate that CEOs expect their renewable energy purchases to rise, mostly as a means to tackle higher energy prices. Leveraging renewable energy resources to power buildings can help businesses reduce their operating costs and get a good return on their investment after applying government incentives and financing assistance.
Across the United States, the transition to renewable energy is happening steadily : 24 large US companies purchased 3.6 gigawatts of renewable power in 2015 and the first quarter of 2016, over three times the amount bought by seven group in 2014. This has spawned a new development. Previously, solar and wind farm owners have sold most of their electricity to state or privately owned utility, which have then made it available to consumers. With big companies signing long-term agreements to purchase power directly from wind and solar farms, renewable energy generators are in a better position to negotiate with lenders to finance projects and get them off the ground without having to wait for years.
Energy management plan
A New York commercial energy management plan can make energy savings a part of your business culture. In collaboration with a reliable partner, you can implement solutions and best practices that help conserve energy and cut costs without adversely affecting performance.
- Benchmark your current energy consumption. By setting a baseline against which to compare future reductions, you will be able to track progress on an ongoing basis and quantify savings more easily.
- Create an energy use profile that shows energy distribution across heating, cooling and lighting systems, refrigeration, and more. Also present which energy source is utilized for each of the systems. You can further implement sub-metering to view the performance of these systems and identify opportunities to save.
- Set short and long term energy and emission reduction goals, and devise realistic plans to achieve them, embedding them into your overall New York energy management plan.
- Put a measuring and reporting system in place to track operational and cost savings, understand employee satisfaction, and report on outcomes to plan the next steps more effectively.
Upgrades and implementation that save energy
Small changes such as installing smart thermostats, lighting retrofits, refrigeration covers, occupancy sensors, voltage optimization and targeted gas metering can collectively make a big difference to overall savings. Here, the support of your staff will be important in following best practices such as:
- Preventing equipment from running unnecessarily
- Optimizing production schedules to reduce peak usage
- Using too much lighting when task lighting can do the job just as efficiently
- Running space heaters along with air conditioning units when the building is too cool
These steps must be supplemented by using appropriate pricing options that are insulated from rate spikes and leveraging the available energy incentives that help lower the costs of energy-efficient investments.