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Originally published in Interiors & Sources

08/24/2012

Top 12 Strategies to Maximize Cost Savings

Innovative expense-slashing solutions drive operational efficiency

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10) Pursue Incentives
For energy efficiency, resource conservation, or other sustainable targets, look into financial incentives from federal, state, and local governments, green nonprofits, and industry groups.

By pursuing grants from Focus on Energy, Green Bay Area Public Schools obtained funding assistance toward boiler upgrades, HVAC improvements, insulation, and more. The district eventually saved more than $8.2 million on energy costs from school years 2003-2004 to 2010-2011 and now heats and powers its buildings for an average of $0.74 per square foot. This is significantly less than a typical new school in the area, which would require about $1.30 per square foot, Kitzman says.

In one of many examples, the Green Bay facilities crew switched the steam boiler to hot water, which requires a lower temperature to operate. Replacement boilers in three school buildings were connected to the DDC control system with a staggering drop in energy usage as a result – one building required about 5,300 therms per month from December 2010 to January 2011, but that dropped to just 2,000 therms for the same period last year.

11) Streamline Operational Efficiency
The path to efficiency isn’t always about retrofits and upgrades. Take Hoefer Wysocki Architects, for example. The architecture firm discovered a cheap green solution to keep tenant complaints about sewer odor at bay.

“The constant problem of floor drains losing the water level in the P trap causes the sewer odor we’re all familiar with,” explains Bruce Hobbs, director of construction administration and senior associate. “Put in a cup of vegetable oil and the trap doesn’t lose its prime. It’s biodegradable and there are no health issues.”

In other cases, policy decisions can drive down operational costs. JDM Associates, a national energy management and sustainability consulting firm near Washington, DC, encourages its property management teams to operate office buildings by request only on Saturdays. Tenants simply provide advance notice if they plan to come in on Saturday so the engineers can program the energy management system accordingly. This potentially reduces the total building energy usage by 4-7%, says Aaron Welsh, associate consultant for JDM Associates. A typical 300,000-square-foot building where all tenants follow this recommendation can save $50,000 per year in energy costs alone.

12) Contribute to Company Culture
To truly impact your facility’s bottom line, you need buy-in from as many people in the organization as possible. Facilities staff at Frito-Lay’s North American Headquarters in Plano, TX, rallied employees around a sustainability initiative that involved eliminating many personal desk printers.

Rio Tinto, an international metals and mining corporation, improved the technology in their print room to reduce the number of machines from five to two. They also opted to purchase refurbished furniture instead of new, achieving dual accomplishments of saving money and keeping the used furniture out of the landfill.

Likewise, the Green Bay team emphasized education from the beginning to get as many people as possible on board with their energy improvements. But they didn’t stop at educating other departments – they created an internal culture that strongly emphasized continuing education. Around 22 Green Bay FMs have graduated from a building operator certification course sponsored by Focus on Energy and Wisconsin Public Service. Kitzman also brought in outside instructors and connected his staff with courses at a local technical school whenever possible.

“It’s all pretty straightforward,” says Kitzman, whose recent retirement isn’t stopping him from consulting for his former employer as Green Bay’s facilities department gets to know its new leader, manager of trades Luanne O’Leary. “You’ve got to get people to adjust to looking at things in a different way. They can do it.”

 

Janelle Penny (janelle.penny@buildings.com) is associate editor of BUILDINGS.

 


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