Muskegon County Triumphs at Energy Efficiency

Sustainability is a necessity, not a choice, for public and government buildings to be good stewards with community tax dollars. Today, Muskegon County takes this responsibility very seriously through the sustainable foundation that began more than 20 years ago.

Each year, Muskegon County enters the Michigan Battle of the Buildings competition. The Michigan Battle of the Buildings is an awards and recognition program for energy use reduction open to all Michigan area commercial, industrial & multi-family buildings. At the end of the year, numbers and crunched and the “Biggest Losers’ are crowned.

Muskegon County’s Department of Public Works looks for ways to reduce energy usage in all of their facilities. The County staff finds it critical in older facilities that weren’t originally constructed with sustainability in mind. Therefore, Muskegon County was pleased to be named a ‘Biggest Loser’ for its Louis A. McMurray Conference & Transportation Center two years in a row. The Center, built in 2000, underwent retrofitting in 2015 that resulted in an overall 10.4 percent energy reduction.

The Louis A. McMurray Conference & Transportation Center is not Muskegon County’s only energy reduction success. Muskegon County’s HealthWest building took 1st place in the 2015 competition with a 4.25 percent reduction.

Muskegon County’s energy conservation measures include reducing plug loads by switching to more efficient computers and monitors. Plug loads are significant factors in energy consumption, especially in an office building. Plug loads include equipment that gets “plugged in” to electrical receptacles. Plug load energy consumption can be reduced by evaluating equipment efficiency and usage and by being conscious of when energy is being unnecessarily consumed.

Energy monitoring, the energy reduction plan, and a look towards renewables are all in place due in great part to the County’s commitment to sustainability and the addition of a Sustainability Coordinator position in 2011. This position was initially created to focus on County recycling efforts but quickly expanded to include energy and carbon reduction. Sara Damm has held this position for four years and has attended the Michigan Battle of the Buildings Energy Summit each year.

“We’re glad to be saving taxpayers money,” said Damm. “We are also happy about reducing energy consumption and reducing carbon emissions.”

Damm offers advice for facility managers to start with benchmarking energy usage through EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” She went on to suggest reviewing facility lighting and replacing incandescent and CFL lamps with LEDs.

The County’s success will continue through the wide, continued commitment from the staff, constituents, tax payers, and elected officials alike. The energy plan is providing measurable results in usage, savings, and reduction goals. Muskegon County launched a new sustainability website to share the results and stay accountable to the public.

Written by: Mark Zoeteman, Board Secretary for the US. Green Building Council West-MI and Senior Mechanical Engineer at Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc.

Ford Field is Tackling Energy, One Kilowatt at a Time

The Lions football players aren’t the only ones doing the tackling at Ford Field. Over the last few years, the sustainability department has been tackling some extensive energy projects and the result is impressive for the 1,826,250 square feet facility that covers a 25-acre footprint in downtown Detroit.

Heading the sustainability efforts at Ford Field Director of Facilities, Fred Reddig. Reddig was recently selected by Facility Executive magazine as the magazine’s 2017 Facility Executive of the Year. A well-deserved acknowledgment for the outstanding work his team has accomplished at Ford Field since 2014.

Reddig entered the stadium into the Michigan Battle of the Buildings 2015. Michigan Battle of the Buildings is an energy reduction competition open to all commercial and industrial buildings in Michigan. It’s a friendly competition pitting building against building to see who can be the biggest energy loser over the course of one year. Ford Field has been a competing building in the energy reduction competition since.

“Battle of the Buildings has been a true driving force to complete our projects,” said Reddig, “Putting data into Portfolio Manager and seeing the numbers change is rewarding.”

Each year, Michigan Battle of the Buildings hosts an Energy Summit to congratulate the biggest losers and bring buildings owners and operators together to share their energy reduction stories. In 2016 Reddig spoke on a panel at the summit.  Along with other 2015 competitors, Reddig shared lessons learned by Ford Field during the competition year and gave insight to what they have planned for the future.

Reddig works with the Green Team at Ford Field to establish best practices throughout the stadium. Moving forward, they plan to include the commercial real estate side of Ford Field, bringing their tenants on board with the energy reduction and sustainable practices they are developing.

While much of the Green Team work happens behind the scenes a visitor at the field may notice the upgraded lighting. The lighting retrofits at Ford Field have been made possible by utilizing the incentive program offered by DTE Energy. So far, they have received $290,000 from the program. “We expect a 2-5 year pay off on our lighting projects depending on the location and how often they are used,” said Reddig.

Here’s a sample of the projects tackled at Ford Field so far:

  • Retrofitted lighting to LED technology resulting in higher efficiency and better cooling properties.
  • New building management software installed to control the stadium lighting and breakers.
  • Variable frequency drives and controls were installed on city water booster pumps allowing better control and reducing energy consumption by two thirds.
  • Improvements to the cooling towers and chiller plant contributing to two million gallons of water saved in 2016.
  • Restoration of the roof – which enabled materials to stay out of the landfill.
  • Established a cardboard recycling policy for all events

In 2015 Ford Field hosted twice the number of events than the prior year. Thanks to the energy reduction efforts of Reddig and the Green Team they did not see an increase in energy use.

Congratulations to Ford Field and we look forward to following the work of the Green Team.



What’s on tap at Founders? A big serving of Energy Efficiency!


This guest post is from Bryan Russell, Marketing Manager, DNV GL Energy Services USA Inc.

When Founders Brewing Co.  recently expanded their Tap Room and Brewery on Grandville Ave in Grand Rapids, maximizing energy efficiency was an essential top priority.  Not only are they a six-time winner of the World Beer Cup and one of the top-ranked breweries in the United States, they are also leaders of sustainability and environmental stewardship in their operations.

At Founders, they are always looking for ways to lower their carbon footprint and save money, while at the same time creating a warm and inviting environment for their customers.  They recently completed an addition of 56,500 square feet which was just one of many ongoing projects that demonstrate how state of the art heat recovery and controls from their brewing process can reap huge rewards.

“Brewing beer is an energy-intensive process” said Brad Stevenson, Chief Production Officer, Founders Brewery Co. “To achieve our goal to reduce energy use and waste, we got creative and took advantage of heat that is otherwise wasted, and offsets our heating and ventilation costs.”

Founders has designed and integrated their brewing and HVAC systems to work together as a single unit.  For example, waste heat is taken from the fermentation process and used to heat incoming air through their roof top units. This resulted in a 35 percent gain in efficiency.  In another application, heat taken from the brewing process is used for in-floor radiant heating which resulted in an 85-90 percent reduction in heating costs.

The process to ferment beer creates excessive CO2, so sensors have been employed to efficiently re-circulate fresh air where it is needed. Founders also made ventilation efficiency improvements, as heat taken from boilers is used to warm their domestic hot water which is used for cleaning their brewing equipment.

As an added bonus, DTE Energy incentives lowered the upfront costs of Founders’ energy efficiency improvements. With the improvements made, Founders received $30,000 in DTE incentives and saved an estimated $2,500 monthly savings on their energy bill.

Business owners, are you considering energy efficiency improvements, renovations or new construction? To learn more about DTE Energy energy efficiency incentives, call 866.796.0512, Option 3 or learn more visiting DTE’s business energy efficiency incentive website.

This post first appeared on Empowering Michigan

General Motors Commits to 100% Renewable Energy

Recently announced, General Motors (GM) pledges to source electricity for its 350 operations in 59 countries with 100 percent renewable energy from wind, sun and landfill gas by 2050.  GM aspires to institute climate change across the world with its electrified vehicles, efficient manufacturing and latest renewable energy goal.

General Motors has made a substantial impact world wide since it was founded in 1908.  It is one of the largest car manufacturers with operations across six continents.  GM is the number one automotive user of solar energy and is among the top 25 solar powered companies in the United States.

General Motors began its sustainability journey in 1995 when it partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement energy and the environment into their business plan. Since then, GM has made vast improvements in operations, manufacturing, and production, leading to the achievement of energy reduction and awards in sustainability from the EPA.

Over the last decade, GM launched solar arrays at 22 facilities, is using landfill gas at 3 and will soon be benefiting from wind power at 4.  Solar capacity at GM totals 48 megawatts.  The company is realizing an annual savings of $5 million from their renewable energy production and forecasts increased savings as they continue to improve and work toward the goal of 100% renewable energy.

Renewable energy is energy generated from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat.  Choosing renewable sources of fuel over fossil fuels can decrease a building’s source Energy Use Intensity (EUI).  An EUI is the energy consumed per square foot, per year at a building and are further distinguished as site and source.  According to the EPA, site energy is the amount of heat and electricity consumed by a building as reflected on your utility bills.  While source energy represents the total amount of raw fuel that is required to operate the building.  It incorporates all transmission, delivery, and production losses.  GM’s commitment to increasing renewable energy while reducing operating costs will reflect positively (decrease)  both site and source EUI.

General Motors has made and surpassed several energy reduction goals and commitments over the last 20 years.

In 2008, General Motors made the commitment to ensure that half of its manufacturing plants are landfill-free.  GM has stuck to their commitment of reducing the total amount of waste created in all facilities.  Today, GM has 131 landfill-free facilities.

In 2011 GM entered all of their facilities into the Energy Star Challenge for Industry.  30 U.S. facilities meet the challenge by reducing energy intensity by at least 10 percent in five years or less.  Today, 73 facilities meet the EPA Challenge for Industry.

In 2015 General Motor’s Global Energy Manager, Al Hildreth spoke alongside Consumers Energy and DTE Energy at Michigan Battle of the Building’s Lunch & Learn workshops in Grand Rapids and Detroit.  Hildreth shared first-hand, GM’s best practices and ways they optimize building operations.  The Michigan Battle of the Buildings Program is an awards and recognition program for energy use reduction open to all Michigan area commercial & industrial buildings. The program encourages energy efficiency and uses energy benchmarking to recognize the Biggest Losers across the state. General Motors could be up for a Battle of the Buildings Award at the next Earth Day Energy Summit, as Hildreth entered 10 GM buildings into the 2016 competition.

General Motor’s commitment to our environment and leadership in our communities is admirable on many levels.  The company continues to challenge itself each year as they publish their sustainability reports and reflect on the previous year’s accomplishments.  

Consumers Energy Project of the Year Awards – Submit Your Project Today


Consumers Energy Business Energy Efficiency Programs Project of the Year award recognizes, honors and publicizes a successful project and the achievements of the project team for their superior completing an energy efficiency project. Three Project of the Year awards are recognized annually.

• Small Commercial (<400,000 kWh or 6,000 MCF annual use)
• Large Commercial (>400,000 kWh or 6,000 MCF annual use)
• Industrial (by SIC or NAICS industrial classification)

In 2015 Consumers Energy awarded Michigan Rubber Products Inc., East Jackson Community Schools and Panse Greenhouse LLC for their “best” projects.

Michigan Rubber Products Inc. (Cadillac) was named energy efficiency Project of the Year in the industrial category. The company completed process cooling, lighting, and HVAC system updates of its Cadillac facility that will save over 1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

East Jackson Community Schools (Jackson County) was named the Large Commercial Project of the Year for its renovation of East Jackson Elementary School.  The energy efficient design features modifications to aspects of the building envelope, mechanical systems, and lighting technologies.

Panse Greenhouses LLC (Kalamazoo) was named the Small Commercial Project of the Year. Its work included a greenhouse environmental control system, which integrated HVAC climate control, high-efficiency grow lights and LED fixtures into a fully controllable system.

Apply by August 31st & you could be a 2016 winner!

 Nominate your project today! 


WMU Renovation of Historic Heritage Hall is Better than New

Western Michigan University’s (WMU) $24M Heritage Hall renovation is a finalist for Best Public Project in the 2016 Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards (GEEA). GEEA celebrates outstanding achievements in energy excellence, and seeks to recognize people and organizations that have taken firm, meaningful actions to stop energy waste. WMU is one of 3 finalists in the Best Public Project Category alongside Parchment School District & East Jackson Community Schools.

The sustainability team at WMU is putting a spin on the popular phrase out with the old and in with the new. Instead of tearing down the old, WMU made the old new again. WMU’s sustainability team completed a historical rebuild of the beautiful Heritage Hall building, home of the Alumni Center on Prospect Hill.  Not only did they renovate a 110 year old building, they renovated it all while designing for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification.

The original construction and birthplace of WMU was completed in 1905 at 34,000 square feet. The facility was renovated and made its official debut as Heritage Hall just in time for Homecoming Weekend in October of 2015. The building nearly doubled in size totaling 53,000 square feet and features a large ballroom for events. Later this year, WMU will host the US Green Building Council of West Michigan for their annual membership meeting in the ballroom.  The event will open with WMU President John Dunn sharing their story on sustainable higher education and finish with a Murder Mystery party.

The 120,000 man hours that it took to complete the Heritage Hall project was made possible with strong partnerships and a hard working team. TowerPinkster joined WMU’s engineering team to help make their vision of the historic property a reality. “They were great to work with,” said Christopher Caprara, energy administration specialist at WMU “they really helped with the design and engineering of this project.”

The WMU team made their energy efficiency mark on Heritage Hall by implementing geothermal heating and cooling from 56 geothermal wells which will provide 50% greater efficiency than traditional sources. They incorporated LED lighting, low energy windows, low-flush toilets and new insulation. The renovations transformed one of the least efficient buildings on campus into one of most efficient buildings.

Constructing efficient buildings while applying LEED standards is second nature to WMU. They certified the first LEED Gold Existing Building in the state of Michigan with its College of Health and Human Services. WMU has committed to meet USGBC Silver LEED certification for all new construction projects and modifications of existing properties on campus.  The LEED buildings on campus include the Chemistry Building, College of health and Human Services, Brown Hall, Sangren Hall, the LEE Honors College, and the latest phase of construction on Western View Apartments.  “Over the last 18 years WMU has been able to reduce its energy use intensity by over 23%,” said Caprara.

The primary goal set by WMU’s Climate Action Plan is carbon neutrality by 2065. Caprara said, “While saving money will always be a primary motivating factor for WMU’s Energy Management Program, the main driving force today is carbon reduction goals implemented to reduce WMU’s impact on the environment.” The Heritage Hall renovation is just one of the many projects that WMU plans to complete to achieve their 2065 goal.

WMU strives to be a national higher education sustainability leader. They have implemented sustainable practices on campus including a recycling center, solar panels and a wind turbine. Each year since 2014 they compete in the Michigan Battle of the Buildings “biggest loser” styled energy reduction competition hosted by the US Green Building Council of West Michigan. The competition guides property owners and operators as they benchmark their buildings and gives them a chance to compare the building’s efficiency to others in its category.

Thank you for your commitment to our future, WMU! Your dedication to educating tomorrow’s leaders on the importance of sustainability will pay environmental dividends.

Odawa Casino Gambles on Energy Efficiency and Wins

Odawa Casino picWhen it comes to energy efficiency, Odawa Casino is not a new player.  The 300,000 ft2 casino, hotel & venue has their eye on the jackpot 24/7.  The beauty of this resort isn’t only in the architectural features and well designed interior spaces, it’s behind the scenes as well, better known as ‘back of the house’.

Odawa first created an Energy Reduction Committee in 2009 to collaborate their ideas and goals into working actions. “It takes a team”, said Dave Heinz, lead electrician at Odawa Casino. The team believes a strong collaborative effort will achieve their aspirations of a greener Michigan.

Although the quest to reduce energy at Odawa was always internal and focused on running a top notch establishment.  As of late, Odawa is getting plenty of external attention as well.

In 2014 the resort joined the inaugural Michigan Battle of the Buildings ‘biggest loser’ styled energy competition and took home the 2nd place trophy in the entertainment buildings category.  The team was able to reduce energy a whopping 5% and that’s something to write home about. The gaming industry requires a large amount of energy to keep their doors open and Odawa is no exception.

Heinz said, “Odawa’s reduction translates to approximately 1.4 million kw hours of electricity and 36,182 MMBTU of natural gas per year.” This is equivalent to removing 501 passenger vehicles from the roads each year.

“The large reduction in natural gas was headed by Odawa’s Lead HVAC Technician, Ron Gatlin,” said Heinz. ”We really couldn’t have done it without him.”

Once again we find Odawa on the leaderboard for their efforts, a finalist for a Governor’s Energy Excellence Award in the Best Commercial Project category. The Governor’s Energy Excellence Awards honors Michigan organizations and individuals for their commitment to responsible energy production and consumption. Odawa was nominated by Great Lakes Energy for 10 projects they completed in 2015.

According to Heinz, Odawa began their energy journey by taking advantage of  their energy savings rebate program in 2010.  Since that time, they’ve completed 28 energy saving projects including:

  • 12 Variable Frequency Drives (VFD’s)
  • 2-Valve motors for generators to close coolant valves
  • 144 Parking lot LED retrofit kits
  • 36 Parking garage LED lights
  • 11,000 5w festoon lights to 1w LED’s
  • 2-Transducers on our chillers

The whole Odawa Team has made efforts to reduce energy use including:

  • Reducing elevator rides from 53,000 to 23,000 per month
  • Shut off 3 out of every 4 lights in back of house hallways
  • Changing kitchen operations lead to reduction in gas and electric by approximately $15,000 per year.

Odawa’s projects are paying off. “You won’t believe the speed of the return on investment (ROI) with some of our projects,” said Heinz. “It’s very rewarding to see our efforts paying off so quickly.”

The team at Odawa continues to compete in the Michigan Battle of the Buildings each year and Heinz volunteers his time to tell the Odawa story.  If you have the opportunity to hear him speak – do it – you won’t be disappointed.  Heinz is proud of the Odawa Resort accomplishments and eager to share the victories (and disappointments) in a way that only he can.

Congratulations to the Odawa team!  Being a finalist for the Governor’s Energy Excellence Award is a victory in itself.  But, since we know you will be holding your breath until  August 11, 2016 when the winners are announced at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, just know that we will be holding our breath alongside you.

2nd Annual Michigan Battle of the Buildings Energy Summit

The 2nd annual Michigan Battle of the Buildings Energy Summit celebrated the combined energy reductions of 28.5 million ft2 of Michigan real estate with a decrease in nearly 16,000 metric tons of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent).  Converting to laymen’s terms – that’s the same as reducing over 37 million miles driven by an average passenger vehicle.

The 2015 contestants came together on Earth Day, April 22, 2016 the same day that 34 countries representing 49% of Green House Gas Emissions signed the Paris Climate Agreement at the largest single day signing in history.

The local event at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids hosted 3 keynote speakers including Garrick Rochow, VP at Consumers Energy, Roger Curtis, President at Michigan International Speedway and the Honorable Aric Nesbitt, House Committee on Energy Chair.  Guests of the full day event enjoyed breakout sessions on Clean Energy Makes Sense, Indoor Air Quality, Financing & Cash Incentives and Lessons Learned by Battle of the Building competitors from Kent County, CBRE, Spectrum Health, Ford Field/Detroit Lions, Odawa Casino, Van Andel Institute and Catalyst-Partners.  Other speakers from the Michigan Public Service Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Michigan Saves, Lean & Green Michigan and DTE Energy shared tools, resources and insights on Michigan’s Energy Future.

During breaks, guests visited with exhibitors from Patriot Solar Group;  Bratic Enterprises; Consumers Energy; DTE Energy; Energy Focus; Electro-Matic Visual; Grand Rapids Business Journal; Hurst Mechanical; FTC&H architects & engineers; Michigan Saves, Midwest Energy Group, Porous Pave, Ryzen Lighting Group, Solar Winds Power Systems and TowerPinkster architects and engineers who displayed products & services to help the built (and yet to be built) environment learn new ways to to accomplish our world wide goals.

Post conference surveys revealed that attendees rated the networking at the Energy Summit as 5-star and the consistent growth of the competition-nearly triple each year- speaks to the eagerness of building owners & operators to learn new ways to accomplish more while consuming less energy.  Every climate zone has its unique challenges and learning from each other can provide a first hand look at inspiring ways our neighbors are meeting these growing demands.

The Energy Summit awarded the top 2 “biggest losers” from 9 categories.

Entertainment Category:
The Meanwhile reduced 20.67%
The Pyramid Scheme reduced 18.07%

Healthcare Category:
Muskegon County HealthWest reduced 4.42%
Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial reduced 1.49%

Manufacturing/Industrial Category:
Nu-Wool Co., Inc. reduced 11.06%
Innotec Life Space Division reduced 10.89%

Mixed Use Category:
Parker Hannifin FSC reduced 6.42%
SMG DeVos Convention Center reduced 6.03%

Multi-Family Category:
Hollander Development Valley View III reduced 8.44%
River House at Bridgewater Place Condominiums reduced 4.17%

Office Building Category:
Comerica Stadium-Pauline Branch reduced 21.27%
Fifth Third Bank reduced 15.27%

Other Category:
Greenleaf Hospitality Group Radisson Plaza Hotel reduced 16.80%
Nichols Corporate Headquarters reduced 10.84%

Public Buildings Category:
Muskegon’s Louis A McMurray Conference & Transportation reduced 10.40%
City of Grand Rapids Water Resource Facility reduced 9.10%

Education Category:
St. Clair County Community College MTEC Building reduced 31.93%
Holland Public High School reduced 10.62%

The Michigan Battle of the Buildings is the only state-wide energy competition in the country and Michigan is being recognized on a national level.  The EPA EnergyStar national Battle of the Buildings will cease in 2017 in lieu of encouraging more local competitions and we are thrilled to be leading this conversation.

Change is on the horizon and the reward is better air quality, economic advantage and we all hope – a slowing of the rise in global temperature.

Thank you to all that attended the 2015 Michigan Battle of the Buildings Earth Day Energy Summit.  We’ll see you next year!

Federal Building/U.S. Courthouse not only historical landmark, but leader in energy reduction

The Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Port Huron, Michigan, is located on the south side of the Black River in the central business district. It has the distinction of being the oldest federal building in the State of Michigan still occupied by the federal government; it was built to house some of the government’s oldest agencies.

The building was designed by Alfred B. Mullett and constructed in 1877 to house a post office, a U.S. Customs office, and the U.S. Courts. It’s a three-story building that included gas chandeliers, 17 Vermont red marble fireplaces, ornate modified Corinthian capitals, and a cupola – characteristics of the Classical Revival Era.

In its 132 years, the 44,397-square-foot courthouse has served a significant role in the international border crossing’s history and remains a significant landmark in downtown Port Huron, according to Steve Ernest, the property manager.

Recent improvements to the building included an HVAC upgrade, boiler system replacement, energy management controls, installation of a fire alarm system, and a window tinting/re-glazing project.

The Whitehouse Council on Environmental Quality Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade Executive Order 13693, according to Ernest, provides an emphasis on additional reduction in energy and water consumption, as well as the application of renewable energy for buildings.

“The federal government is mandated with improving [the] efficiency of buildings, incorporating renewable energy, and achieving net-zero energy operations where possible,” Ernest said. “As the largest owner of federal buildings, the General Services Administration (GSA) is charged with managing its inventory in an efficient and sustainable manner.”

Building managers were inspired to participate in the Michigan Battle of the Buildings program after other GSA properties participated in the program last year, Ernest said. According to him, the GSA Great Lakes Region recognizes the value and credibility of the Battle of the Buildings program.

In 2015, the facility reduced energy consumption by 29.53 percent, which Ernest attributed to upgrade projects to their systems, including the installation of a pressure equalizer line to their three building boilers.

“The equalizer line allows us to reduce the pressure of [the] incoming gas and operate the boilers in a much more efficient manner,” Ernest said. “We also continually monitor the population of the building and reduce the heating/cooling supplied to areas not being used.”

According to Ernest, competing in the “Public Buildings” category of the competition recognizes the time and effort the Federal Building/U.S. Courthouse has put forth.

“We believe it validates the amount of time, resources, and manpower spent in the maintenance and operation of the building and demonstrates to our tenants how GSA is committed to operating efficient/green buildings no matter the size or number of tenants,” said Ernest.

Author:  Katrina Reed, CIT, LEED Green Associate, USGBC West Michigan Chapter member and Content Strategist at CSM Group

Calculating ALL the Benefits of your Energy Conservation Project

The Michigan Battle of the Buildings October 23rd Lunch & Learn hosted by Progressive AE brought together area professionals to challenge our traditional thinking around energy efficiency projects and how we need to frame these discussions with our CFO’s (Chief Financial Officers).

“COST is a four letter word” said Tom Frey an engineer at Progressive AE. Competition for capital October L&L-Progressive AEdollars is always a challenge for building operators/managers and while there is no question that ROI (Return on Investment), NPV (Net Present Value) and IRR (Internal Rate of Return) are excellent evaluation tools, they do not properly reflect the avoided costs of future energy consumption.

Proposing your energy conservation project in a way that displays the reduction in operating budget due to the new system(s) will prove the projects greatest benefit – improved cash flow.

Using finance mechanisms (like PACE, Michigan Saves or Performance Contracting) and factoring in the accelerated depreciation opportunities can help structure an energy project that will use the avoided the energy costs to pay off the original investment and continue to reap the benefits long afterwards.

This could mean you don’t have to compete with other capital projects for funding.

October Lunch & LearnThe conversation also focused on the benefit of bundling projects. If funding is approved to complete a lighting retrofit with a 1 year payback this year, you may get shot down when you ask for capital to fund a new boiler with an 8 year payback next year. Bundling multiple upgrades can help you get projects approved that may not fly on their own. “The last solar project we completed yielded a payback of 2 years and that included a new roof (which had no payback on its own).” stated David Bell, an engineer at Progressive AE.

ENERGY STAR provides tools and resources that can accurately capture the benefits and prove that energy efficiency projects are excellent investments. These tools are available at and include the Financial Value Calculator, Portfolio Manager, Target Finder, and the Cash Flow Opportunity Calculator.

“It is our job as building management partners to frame our discussions in a way that provides the true INVESTMENT potential in a project that reduces the operating budget.” Said Tom Frey during the wrap up.

These are not the type of discussions we were having just a few years ago.

The Michigan Battle of the Buildings continues to drive change by providing a platform to host these economically impactful conversations. Our primary goal is connecting building owners/managers to the tools and resources necessary to make informed and educated decisions in the rapidly changing energy market

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