For facility managers, two of the main concerns dealt with every day are the need for better energy efficiency and sustainability, and the need to keep the budget down.
Often, the biggest challenges faced come from trying to reconcile the two. Fortunately, there are programs in place that can help facility managers balance the books while also going - or staying - green. Utility incentives and rebate programs are great ways to encourage your building to push for better sustainability, and the icing on the cake is that they provide facilities with what ultimately amounts to free money for doing so.
Incentives and free money
The basic idea behind utility incentive rebates is simple - facility managers work with organizations that have received government subsidization to encourage properties to make better environmental choices. Such groups commonly offer advice and equipment related to the reduction of energy consumption, for example. Managers can capitalize on the money saved through lower energy costs, and in many cases may be eligible for monetary incentives such as federal or state tax credits for renewable energy, according to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.
Why then, with such an attractive arrangement, do more facilities not take advantage of such programs? It stands to reason that a system that can positively affect energy efficiency and also place cash into facility managers' hands would be something of an industry standard. According to FacilitiesNet, the biggest impediment to such programs is lack of knowledge and communication when it comes to utility needs of a facility. There is commonly a break in the communication chain between utility providers, who have access to and knowledge of the array of incentives and benefits that can be provided, and the facilities managers themselves, who frequently fail to further investigate their utility usage and assess it for efficiency and cost.
"We don't always know exactly how to reach those folks. Some facilities managers think the process is too cumbersome, and they're worried about measurement requirements, so the customer segment is stratified," Dave Pospisil of Con Edison's commercial and industrial energy efficiency program told FacilitiesNet.
What steps can savvy facility managers take to maximize their involvement in such incentive programs? One of the biggest assets is foresight and planning. Facility managers are no stranger to capital planning for future repairs and upgrades, and when it comes time to plan for such improvements, the process should be approached from a utilities-centric perspective. Managers may already be upgrading for efficiency, and many are aware of things such as ENERGY STAR ratings, so the next step is merely opening the dialogue with utility providers to determine what other benefits may be available.
Consistent and reliable tracking of utility use is also hugely important. A building automation system and CMMS can help you not only track scheduled maintenance, but also keep an eye on your facility's energy consumption so you can better assess your efficiency situation.