We have frequently talked about the various benefits of making your building more energy-efficient. The bottom line, and, let’s face it, the most powerful argument for going green, is your bottom line. You know that there will be an initial investment, but it needs to pay off for you in the end.
So, once you’ve seriously considered the idea of implementing an energy efficiency plan, you’ll probably wonder where on earth you should start. Looking at your utility expenses as a whole and knowing where to begin with reducing them can be a bit overwhelming.
We recently came across a great article via Yahoo! News that outlines the various steps a homeowner should consider before making an energy efficiency commitment. The arguments for why are pretty similar for both the residential and commercial markets.
“Soaring energy costs, generous government and utility incentives plus the falling price of technology are leading more Americans to replace their conventional power or heating sources with renewable ones.
An unseasonably warm winter has brought no relief to the price of home heating oil which has hit a national average of $4 per gallon in February, topping gasoline prices in some states. That’s nearly 50 cents more than a year ago.
The U.S. market for solar energy systems grew by 140 percent in 2011 as costs dropped by two-fifths, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Natural gas prices are at a 10-year low, and in 2010 more than half of all new single-family homes were built to use natural gas.”
There are definitely compelling arguments across the board for becoming a more energy efficient nation as a whole – whether that’s on a residential or commercial level – the big challenge comes into play when you start to discuss the differences in how to approach energy efficiency. The basic questions you should ask yourself are the same, they just have slightly different approaches in the answers.
We’ve outlined the steps that were recommended in the article below, but have indicated why or how they are applicable for the business world as well.
Have an Energy Audit Performed
We couldn’t agree more; which is why we offer free energy audits. Unless you are an expert in the field of energy efficiency (and we have a staff of educated, talented experts), there is no way for you to understand all of the ways you can cut energy costs. We take a comprehensive, whole-building approach to understanding where you can cut costs and look well beyond the surface.
Additionally, we offer green consulting services so that our clients can better qualify for green building codes in their area and take advantage of federal, state, local tax incentives and utility rebates for buildings with energy-efficient technologies and sustainable materials.
Take Advantage of Rebates
Speaking of taxes…one of the benefits of updating your facility to be more energy efficient comes in the form of rebates and tax incentives. These do tend to change every year or so, so it’s important to discuss any plans with your energy consultant and your utility company before you move forward. We’ve outlined several points on understanding tax benefits and energy efficiency throughout our blog.
Know Available Financing
This is one of the major areas where residential and commercial energy efficiency remodels differ. Whereas with a home, you would most likely take out a loan with a bank or other financial institution, our clients are offered lease financing options, eliminating any out-of-pocket expenses or expenditure of capital.
All the work we do is self-funding. With guaranteed energy savings of anywhere from 8% to 30%, our fees are covered entirely by funds you’d otherwise be sending to the utility companies each month. Our monthly lease and financing options are always well below the savings you’ll experience, giving you unplanned extra cash flow each month to spend as you please.
Additionally, we back every one of our promises with an insurance policy underwritten by one of the world’s largest and oldest insurance companies. Before any work begins, we’ll set detailed savings and payback benchmarks specific to your facility. If you’re not experiencing the guaranteed return on investment by the predetermined dates, you will receive a check for the difference.
Be Realistic About Resale Value
While commercial buildings are very different than residential in terms of resale, there is some truth in this statement that can be applied to both. Because the move to make buildings more energy efficient is relatively new on a national scale, it’s difficult to determine what the long term pay-off will be.
However, the U.S. Department of Energy shared last year that they are working to make it easier for appraisers to add energy-efficiency upgrades into the overall value of a building:
To help encourage more Americans to upgrade their businesses with energy-saving products, the Department of Energy recently announced a partnership that will help expand access to energy-efficiency and building performance information for commercial buildings. DOE will work together with The Appraisal Foundation to ensure that appraisers have the information, practical guidelines, and professional resources they need to evaluate energy performance when conducting building appraisals. By improving the availability of tools and data, appraisers will be able to accurately add the value of energy-efficiency upgrades into a building’s appraisal.
What do you think of these steps to consider? Is there anything you think should also be included?