Tag Archives: Energy Efficiency

All we have to do is benchmark?

Yep…just knowing how your facility’s baseline stacks up against others can save you up to 5% without investing one dime.   At SIS we’ve seen the power of exposing data to associates working in a factory…by just seeing that their factory still carried an electrical load of 200kW, even at shutdown, they were able to shed another 100kW by just paying a little more attention to systems that needed to be shut off.

There is a great piece in a recent Greentech Media blog that highlights a recent report from our friends at Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room.  Check out the report and check out these quotes from the blog about the energy efficiency market…

The market is expected to reach more than $100 billion by 2017, more than a 50 percent increase from today, according to Pike Research. A study by IMT found that a national benchmarking and disclosure policy could reduce energy costs by approximately $18 billion by 2020.

Energy efficiency is smart business and a good investment…

IMT estimates that benchmarking could generate more than $7.8 billion in private investment in energy efficiency through 2020, yielding up to $3 in savings for every dollar invested.

While SIS firmly believes that most of our sustainability goals can be met with existing technology, under existing regulations it is always good to see local governments take energy efficiency seriously by mandating energy benchmarking…sort of like getting your car regularly inspected to maintain your license plate reregistration.

Philadelphia recently joined a growing list of states and cities to mandate energy benchmarking and disclosure for commercial buildings over 50,000 square feet.


Let’s hope this timeline is conservative!


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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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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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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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Creating Climate Wealth – London

It was an honor to be invited and participate in the Creating Climate Wealth Summit put on by Sir Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room.  Exhausting, frustrating and exhilarating two days of being locked in rooms with facilitators tasked with gigaton carbon reduction with existing technology under existing market conditions.

Our group, Energy Efficiency & The Built Environment, came together around good ole fashion recommissioning of building systems to achieve a rapid 10% to 18% energy reduction.  Now if we could just make those mandatory for every building every three years…much like a car inspection.

SIS is excited to see the PACE Bond Consortium come out of the Carbon War Room efforts.  Innovation in energy efficiency financing will be a key to driving impact with lasting financial benefits.  We look forward to working with the consortium in the southeast to enable energy efficiency on a grand scale.

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Job’s Council down in American Underground

It was great visiting with the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness at our offices in the American Underground.  While it was a proud moment to talk about the intersection of manufacturing competitiveness and energy efficiency, our media strategy was instantly killed by the goofy face and pose our CEO made explaining to the equation on our glass wall to Austan Goolsbee and Steve Case.  Glad it got a laugh out of economist Goolsbee and Michael Goodmon of American Tobacco Campus.

We managed to get a little radio love from WUNC…listen for the deep southern accent halfway into the program.  Now if we can just get Jason to stop talking about tech transfer and focus on energy efficiency we’ll be in good shape.

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