AESP Spring Conference: Beyond the BasicsGita Subramony for Zondits, May 20, 2014
AESP’s Spring Conference just concluded last week in Baltimore. The meeting focused on marketing and implementation strategies that go beyond easy energy savings. Digging deeper into savings in existing buildings is a hot topic these days. That’s because many states and utilities have been in the business of implementing efficiency programs for years, and some claim that the low-hanging fruit has been picked. Utilities such as Colorado’s Xcel Energy say that programs will become more and more costly to implement with lesser results. However, AESP’s conference highlighted the idea that just because many buildings have implemented lighting upgrades doesn’t mean that efficiency programs are obsolete. The meeting brought together program implementers and engineers to discuss up-and-coming market segments, technologies, and strategies for achieving greater savings.
Peter Serian, an engineer at ERS, presented on program implementation strategies that help commercial and industrial facilities go beyond the basics in terms of energy-saving projects. Peter’s work at ERS includes outreach on behalf of NYSERDA’s and Public Service of New Hampshire’s industrial energy efficiency programs as well as auditing services throughout the Northeast. His idea is that in order to go beyond the low-hanging fruit, outreach programs should work closely with energy audit programs to help facilities reach deeper savings. In his experience, outreach programs can engage a large number of end users, market partners, and other stakeholders; however, these programs alone lack the bandwidth for delving in to more complex projects that might require longer-term data logging or modeling. This is where coupling an energy audit program with the outreach campaign can come in: outreach programs identify potential opportunities and guide customers through the process, and audit programs can provide the necessary technical knowledge and data collection required for completing these types of projects. For large commercial facilities, the focus of his analysis, the second-largest end user is HVAC – optimizing the control of these HVAC systems is the next tier of deep saving opportunities.
Peter uses the example of NYSERDA’s FlexTech Program. This program cost-shares an in-depth energy audit for New York State facilities. Often, outreach contractors who work for NYSERDA will refer customers to this program. A recent evaluation of this program found that the adoption rate of audit recommendations related to controls across more than 300 energy studies was 70% within the first year of the study and over 80% four years after the energy study for controls projects. The evaluation attributed the high adoption rate of controls projects, which are typically considered deep savings, to the assistance of the outreach contractors who might have initially identified the opportunities and were available to guide customers through the entire process. The symbiotic relationship between outreach programs and audit programs has the potential to help existing commercial go beyond the low-hanging fruit and implement deep savings retrofits in quantities of scale.