As everyone's favorite Muppet frog frequently reminds us, it's not easy being green, and perhaps few understand this plight better than facility managers. Whether it's making choices that are better for the environment or the accounting spreadsheet, striking a balance between sustainable and cost-effective energy solutions is a concern in any facility.
Times are changing though, and environmentally conscious FMs will find a host of affordable and effective energy efficiency options available. In fact, renewable energy is becoming the new paradigm of many businesses, as more FMs endeavor to keep both their communities and their wallets green.
The rise of renewable energy
Until recently, many common sources of renewable energy have been largely overlooked by businesses as not feasible or inconvenient, representing significant capital investment in new infrastructure in the form of windmills, solar panels or other such apparatuses. However, business owners are beginning to come around. FMLink reported on a survey conducted by the nonprofit American Council on Renewable Energy indicating that many companies across different regions in the U.S. expressed a desire to incorporate more renewable energy usage into their operation. According to the source, 75 percent of businesses surveyed indicated that renewable solutions could contribute to saving money over the next two decades.
Implementing renewable solutions
One major impediment to larger-scale adoption of renewable energy sources in the past has been initial cost. FMs endeavoring to maximize capital budgets as much as possible may balk at the prospect of installing whole new equipment systems. Fortunately, as FacilitiesNet noted, installation costs have dropped to such a degree that more private companies are beginning to make the leap into the renewable market, and are finding that the savings such an upgrade entails are well worth the up-front expenditure.
According to the source, the average facility receives far more energy every day than it produces simply through natural means such as sunlight - by a factor of about seven times. Harnessing this energy through solar panels, for example, can significantly reduce the money spent on generating what is essentially extraneous power.
The government has also been working with businesses to further the cause of renewable energy sources. The U.S. Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management are providing sites that can be used to develop renewable infrastructure, be it windmills, geothermal generators or even energy transmission corridors used to carry sustainably generated power over greater distances.