Posts tagged “energy efficiency”
When it comes to energy efficiency, retailers are on a roll. Convenience store chain Wawa announced last year that it saves over $1 million a year in energy costs thanks to an LED lighting retrofit. Nationwide department store Kohl’s saved $50 million in energy costs over four years and has continued to improve its energy performance with lighting and energy management systems upgrades. As a result, Kohl’s claims, “we have one of the lowest energy usages per square foot in the retail industry.”
Walgreens, the country’s largest drugstore chain, recently completed lighting retrofits at 80% of its locations nationwide. The company said this change not only saves money, but also improves the customer experience: “Colors appear more vibrant and more like they would in daylight, so customers don’t need to second guess themselves in the cosmetics aisle.”
For retailers like these, energy efficiency offers an edge over their competitors. It’s about the bottom line, pure and simple.
Recently Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D.-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R.-Ohio) reintroduced the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. The bill is meant to spur the use of energy efficiency technologies in residential and commercial buildings as well as in industrial and manufacturing operations. One of the key focal points of the bill is on supporting the update of building codes to integrate energy efficiency improvements and requirements.
Welcome to High Efficiency, a new column from Energy Trends Insider. I’m your columnist, host, and resident energy-efficiency-obsessed individual, Allison Asplin. (You might remember me from my article in Eli Hinckley’s Banking Energy column, “Why Energy Efficiency and Buildings Don’t Mix.”)
First a little about who I am and what I do.
I spent eight years eating, sleeping, and breathing commercial real estate, first in brokerage at a leading global real estate services firm, then as a development manager and regional sustainability director for one of the country’s largest REITs.
Grappling with the energy performance challenges of an 80-building portfolio whetted my appetite for efficiency work, and I bolted for grad school to study energy policy. As a newly-minted Master’s degree holder, I accepted a fellowship with Bloomberg New Energy Finance to study the barriers to energy efficiency in real estate in depth. Through that research, I concluded that utilities are a crucial part of the charge toward energy efficiency, leading me to my current work evaluating energy efficiency and efficiency financing for utilities, governments, and private companies at environmental consulting firm The Cadmus Group.
By Sam Shrank/GreenOrder
Utility operations are being forced to evolve as customer expectations shift, technological change continues and new players enter adjacent markets. As utilities chart their course in areas such as energy efficiency, smart grid, and distributed generation, they find themselves in unfamiliar positions. The second in our four-part series (See Part I by my colleague, Mat McDermid, Finding the Regulated Utility Role in a Shifting Energy Landscape), we discuss how utilities can leverage behavioral science research as they expand into markets where they are not a monopoly and customers need to be convinced about the benefits of the products and services offered.
Since setting up auto-pay the day I moved into my apartment, I’ve given no thought to my utility bill. Given that my job is to analyze and advise utilities, I’d venture to say most people are no more engaged. However, with an evolving set of customer offerings—energy efficiency (EE), alternative fuel vehicles, demand response, and the like—many utilities are realizing that they may require better, different, or more communication. In short, they are discovering what it means to sell.
And not only are they beginning to market things customers may not feel they need, they now have competitors as well, particularly in the EE market. Various other entities are looking to advise large electricity and gas users about how to lower their bills and provide help with financing, sell devices directly to customers that increase automation and control, or take over the utility’s role as the provider of EE offerings funded through utility bill surcharges. All of these reduce both the direct benefit to utilities from performance incentives and the indirect benefits from higher customer satisfaction, improved regulatory relationships, and perceived leadership.
Data centers worldwide use a whopping 30 billion watts of electricity, equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants
Enter the modern data center.
Housing the data and connection protocols for the world’s websites, all of which need to be available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, up to 90 percent of the energy consumed in data centers is simply wasted, according to a report issued by The New York Times following a year-long investigation. Added to this consumption is the use by data centers of banks of generators in the case of a main power grid failure, a system that relies on diesel and releases exhaust. (See also: Why Energy Efficiency and Buildings Don’t Mix)
This is the first guest authored post for Banking Energy. I am most grateful to my friend Allison Asplin for writing this piece. Allison is currently a fellow with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, prior to a brief return for more education she was Development Manager and Director of Sustainability for one of the largest REITs in the country.
Allison had recently completed a substantial (and excellent) review of the challenges with deploying energy efficiency at scale. Having read that, I asked her to do a compressed version of that review for this column and she graciously agreed. All of this information comes from her real-world experience now rounded out by research and analysis in her current role. As always your comments and questions are encouraged.
How does the real estate industry make energy efficiency decisions? And what part of the process is holding back adoption? Five main ‘friction points’ can slow or stop the momentum for energy efficiency adoption by the real estate industry.
Figure: Real Estate Industry Interfaces and Energy Efficiency ‘Friction Points’
Recent analyses by Bloomberg New Energy Finance suggest that opportunity exists for energy efficiency investment of $11 billion per year in US commercial real estate and $3 billion per year in multifamily. Nevertheless, conflicting incentives among stakeholders hinder energy efficiency investment in these segments. These stakeholders fall into five broad categories: developers, owners, occupants, lenders, and managers. At each interface between categories, ‘friction points’ arise, diminishing the impetus for energy efficiency.
The recent debate over the role of the military in investing in renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency and conservation programs and alternative biofuels has included many voices that sometimes conflate the linked but distinct efforts by defense officials to address energy concerns. The rationale behind the military’s energy programs can be broken down into two efforts:
- Adapting to operational energy requirements and security challenges in Afghanistan and other combat theatres;
- Hedging against future uncertainty in the global petroleum market.
Adapting to Operational Energy Challenges
Military leaders have become increasingly worried about operational energy challenges in Afghanistan and other theatres where U.S. soldiers, sailors and airmen are deployed and are working to reduce the demand for energy that must be transported across volatile terrain.
To date, part of the military’s effort to reduce operational energy requirements includes:
- prioritizing energy efficiency in the acquisitions process for new combat platforms;
- fielding micro-grid technology to more efficiently manage traditional power distribution systems that waste energy;
- replacing — where possible — diesel-fuelled generators with solar panels and other renewable energy sources;
- equipping soldiers with advanced batteries that stay charged longer to help keep them in the fight;
- and increasing awareness among all U.S. military personnel about energy use to help promote conservation practices.
There are clear operational advantages to reducing the fuel required by military personnel in theater. In particular, reducing fuel consumption also curbs the demand for petroleum that has to be trucked across dangerous territory where the fuel and the soldiers and contractors transporting it are vulnerable to insurgent attack.
In addition to the EPA’s decision to raise the allowed ethanol blends to 15%, there were three other energy-related stories of interest this week. Deep-Water Ban Ends The first was that the Obama administration has lifted the ban on deep-water drilling: Obama ends ban on deep-water oil drilling in Gulf of Mexico As part of the decision, the Obama administration said it would continue with tougher safety requirements designed to prevent a repeat of the April 20 explosion and fire on an offshore oil rig that killed 11 workers. “Operators who play by the rules and clear the higher bar can be allowed to resume” drilling, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said at a telephone news conference Tuesday. “The oil and… Continue»
Nearly eight in 10 US consumers say in a new survey that they’re ready to make short-term changes in their energy use habits to gain longer-term benefits.
A new data center designed and built by UK-based Keysource is proving to be one of the most energy-efficient facilities of its kind in Europe.