EDF report on “Breaking Down Barriers to Energy Efficiency”

Our friends at EDF have just produced a report called “Breaking Down Barriers to Energy Efficiency” and was highlighted in a recent blog post on Fast Company.  Make sure to read the blog and download the report.

SIS has found these three barriers to be true in our partnerships with mid-tier manufactures and industrial facilities.

Barrier #1: Lack of clear accountability
One of the most common challenges cited by companies was lack of clear accountability for energy performance.

Without that function written into a senior manager’s job description, many companies are unable to perform critical functions like setting energy strategy, identifying and prioritizing energy-saving investments, leveraging internal capital, and tracking actual energy savings.

SIS leads by example by embedding performance measures into our energy projects which sets the stage for our customers to then embed that accountability into their own organization.

Barrier #2: Lack of comprehensive energy data
Many companies struggle to collect and aggregate the energy data needed to build a strong business case for energy investments. Key challenges include ensuring that data is collected with sufficient frequency, specificity, and consistency to effectively identify opportunities and verify savings after projects are completed.

We leverage “paid-from-savings” model to insure that in each project our customers install smart meters or sub-meter their systems.  The power of data and transparency is an unmatched catalyst for improvements.

Barrier #3: Shortsighted financial criteria
Energy-efficiency projects often face financial hurdles for accessing investment capital. While many projects pay back in the one to three years required by most companies, others can deliver much bigger savings over four to 10 years. By making decisions based on simple payback or ROI alone, companies leave money on the table by prioritizing short-term returns over longer-term value creation.

Our “do-nothing-math” is a very strong motivator for customers.  In pointing out these figures we can move the client from a simple payback discussion to a more holistic discussion with metrics such as IRR.

Energy management should be treated no differently than any other waste reduction or efficiency efforts such as Lean and Sig Sigma.  In fact, addressing these issues and formalizing a program around energy management can put your organization on the path to ISO 50001 certification.

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Green Biz Told You So

Middle child syndrome – the name given to the fact that most mid-tier companies’ needs are overlooked in favor of their smaller and larger counterpoints – is about to get kicked to the curb.

‘The sweet spot where most of the [energy efficiency] action will occur is with large and mid-sized non-energy intensive industries, such as computing and electronics, transport engineering, metal/wood/plastic product manufacturing and machinery manufacturing…

As mid- to large-zie industrial companies increasingly wake up to this reality, the energy management software will boom, growing from $960 million a year to more than $5 billion by 2020, the report predicts.” – Green Biz Mag

Instead of saying ‘we told you so,’ we’ll just say ‘Green Biz told you so.’

To get in on this $5B action, check out: SIS.

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Nomaco Case Study

SIS recently completed a lighting upgrade project with Nomaco Insulation (www.nomacoinsulation.com) in Tarboro, NC. Check out the results of this paid-from-savings project!

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One Trillion Dollars

Venture Capitalist:  “What is the addressable market opportunity for your company?”

Energy Efficiency Entrepreneur: “One Trillion Dollars.”

Make sure to check out GreenBiz.com for highlights of a great report out titled “United States Building Energy Efficiency Retrofits: Market Sizing and Financing Models,”

Savvy investments in energy efficiency retrofits for buildings could yield more than three times their value, mounting to about $1 trillion in energy savings in a decade, says new research from Deutsche Bank and The Rockefeller Foundation.

The study released today said that yield would be just one of the returns if $279 billion were spent for retrofits of residential, commercial and institutional buildings in the United States.

In addition to saving about 30 percent of the United States’ entire energy spend during the course of a year, completion of the energy efficiency retrofits could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the country by 10 percent and create 3.3 million job years — which means the projects could create an estimated 3.3 million cumulative years of employment — the study said.

Also a nice plug for our friends at the Carbon War Room.

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$15 Million for Energy Efficiency Projects

As energy efficiency becomes more quantifiable and predictable we will continue to see more financial institutions step up to help underwrite these efforts.  Kudos to Self Help for their part in backing these projects!

SIS was proud to be a part of this new funding launch with our very own Charlotte native, Josh Hawn, sharing stories of our successful energy efficiency retrofits.

Loan program targets energy efficiency projects

By Bruce Henderson
Published in: Business

The nonprofit Self-Help Credit Union launched a low-interest loan program Thursday to finance energy-efficiency projects in metro Charlotte.

Self-Help, based in Durham, will use a $5.5 million loan and grant from Bank of America, combined with other resources, to offer $15 million in energy loans in Charlotte, Atlanta and six other cities.

In Charlotte, the money will be targeted at retrofits of commercial, community and multifamily buildings, especially those in economically distressed areas, said green initiatives manager Melissa Malkin-Weber. Self-Help will also offer some technical assistance.

Older properties consume far more energy and carry higher utility costs than newer buildings, experts say.

About 70 participants, including energy services and economic development professionals, were expected to attend the launch of the program Thursday at Charlotte’s Great Aunt Stella Center. The event was part of the N.C. Sustainable Energy Association’s Clean Energy Connections education series.

The energy loans will range from small “microloans,” such as to day care centers in need of low-flow toilets and more efficient lighting, to multimillion-dollar deals to renovate charter schools. The emphasis in Charlotte will be on small businesses.

“With the larger loans, we’re hoping that they will be doing much more cutting-edge projects like solar hot water on multifamily housing,” Malkin-Weber said. Larger projects will be required to follow green-building standards.

The Bank of America aid allows the credit union to offer a 1.5 percent discount off its regular rates, she said.

It’s been hard previously to interest borrowers in energy efficiency, Malkin-Weber said, in light of North Carolina’s low electric rates.

“What’s different now is that we have an incentive for our traditional borrowers to look at energy efficiency,” she said.

Founded in 1980, Self-Help has loaned nearly $6 billion to families of modest means, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

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Manufacturing the Anti-Recession in NC and Beyond

At SIS, we understand that there is a huge and relatively untapped market for job creation in the manufacturing sector.  Since our founding last year, we’ve launched a handful of careers, helped several North Carolina manufacturers reduce their environmental waste and operating costs, and executed on our belief that going green isn’t just about saving the environment – it’s about saving money and creating jobs in the process. To help explain our passion – why efficiency improvements make sense for NC manufacturing and beyond – we’ve created an electronic infographic. Check it out and send us your feedback!

For more information on how we are launching eco-friendly careers, particularly through our partnership with ACC internship program, click here.

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SOTU – “The easiest way to save money is to waste less energy”

Talk about an elevator pitch…we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.  The cornerstone of SIS‘s business model and a good conservative tenet of wasting less is embodied in the President’s statement on energy efficiency retrofits…

“Of course, the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy. So here’s another proposal: Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, and more jobs for construction workers who need them. Send me a bill that creates these jobs.

Building this new energy future should be just one part of a broader agenda to repair America’s infrastructure. So much of America needs to be rebuilt. We’ve got crumbling roads and bridges. A power grid that wastes too much energy.”

Regardless of your political leanings the President’s State of the Union address had something for everyone…especially for us at SIS.  As we launched this company last year we put forth a vision…

To make US manufacturing more competitive by enabling sustainability and resource efficiency through economically viable solutions while reducing carbon emissions one factory at a time.

With that vision in hand our mission has to been…

To design fiscally responsible, environmentally intelligent solutions for industry with energy efficiency savings as the financial engine to drive sustainability.

As we listened to the address last night several other key points highlighted the tightly intertwined rationale of how we approach our company.  It was an exciting validation of our passion and hard work.  See if you recognize a trend.

“Think about the America within our reach: a country that leads the world in educating its people; an America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs; a future where we’re in control of our own energy; and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world.”

“Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last, an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values. This blueprint begins with American manufacturing.”

SIS shares the President’s emphasis on community college education and we are proud to work with Alamance Community College.  These energy interns are invaluable as we look for ways to improve energy efficiency in large industrial facilities while they obtain the skills to be productive contributors to the growing green collar workforce.

“Jackie Bray is a single mom from North Carolina who was laid off from her job as a mechanic. Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College. The company helped the college design courses in laser and robotics training. It paid Jackie’s tuition, then hired her to help operate their plant.”

We drink the innovation kool-aid at SIS and see the importance of the merging of our country’s increasing use of high tech renewable energy and retooling our manufacturing infrastructure to meet our energy needs.

“What’s true for natural gas is true for clean energy. In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled. And thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.

When Bryan Ritterby was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried that at 55, no one would give him a second chance. But he found work at Energetx, a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan. Before the recession, the factory only made luxury yachts. Today, it’s hiring workers like Bryan, who said, “I’m proud to be working in the industry of the future.”

None of this will be easy.  It will be hard and at times seem an impossible challenge…but in there lies the entrepreneurial opportunity to build the next generation of great companies and build a stronger, more sustainable United States of America.

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Peak Demand Shaving

This is the second issue in a row where Building Operating Management at FacilitiesNet has highlighted an area near and dear to our hearts at SIS with the article “How Automated Demand Response Performs.”  Yet again validating our efforts in tackling this problem for our customers.

Our customers in the mid-tier manufacturing and industrial sector often don’t have the luxury of integrated building control systems but suffer greatly from utility billing structures such as coincident peak charges.  The solution is often the installation of a large dirty diesel generator that cranks up during peak demand calls from the utility.   There is often a significant CapEx or upfront cost for such a system.

We’re been working hard to create an alternative to that solution…one which is much more “sustainable” and utilizes predictive analysis to inform operational decisions that can dramatically reduce peak demand charges.   Look for this product from SIS in the near future.

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Innovation Plan for the Future – Look to the Sea

While Energy is paramount here at SIS and is what we are best at, we also know that the manufacturer’s we work with are more concerned with their products than they are with energy efficiency, so we tend to keep an eye out for sustainable new technology.  Recently, I found a couple of products that should get any manufacturer thinking: shrilk and soy based adhesive tape.

Shrilk is a “material similar in strength and toughness to aluminum alloys, but is only half the weight.” It is also extremely inexpensive to produce because it is made from discarded shrimp shells, biodegradable and biocompatible. What should be alarming to manufacturers is that it is showing serious promise as a plastic replacement.  Imagine what an easily manufacturable, petrochemical free plastic replacement would do to the marketplace.

The second product I recently came across was a soy based adhesive tape out of Oregon State University.  Professor Kaichang Li developed this product after examining mussels and attempting to mimic their ability to stay attached to slippery rocks while being battered by the ocean.   Like Shrilk this product is petrochemical free, environmentally benign, and inexpensive to make.  Most importantly to manufacturers, Dr. Li is looking to enter the $26 Billion global pressure –sensitive tape market.

Despite just being interesting these products should be terrifying to manufacturers who aren’t thinking about alternative materials because while the end of plastic isn’t here yet, the writing is on the wall.

In a world filled with guys carrying hammers, expect them to look for nails they like to pound…

It is always nice to come across a piece that validates your existence as a company and your thought process of engaging customers.  How many times has a lighting vendor offered a free audit and came back with a HVAC recommendation?  When has a solar installer offered up a free assessment and come back with a lighting upgrade suggestion?

SIS was built on a foundation of holistic and agnostic analysis for our customers.   In order to achieve sustainability momentum you must create a cashflow engine to self-fund these efforts. That requires discipline in prioritizing projects to meet short term and long term objectives…don’t size a renewable energy project until you’ve maximize energy efficiency through efforts like lighting upgrades.

Lindsay Audin writes a great article in Building Operating Management called Finding Your Best Energy Opportunity.