US Federal Government Passes Milestone on Efficiency

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced in February that the US federal government recorded the lowest total delivered-to-site energy use in 2013 since they started keeping track in 1975. With more than 350,000 buildings and 600,000 road vehicles, the federal government is our nation’s largest energy consumer at 0.96 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) totalling $24 billion. Because the government is the largest, there is room for improvement and an opportunity for saving. Sustainability goals set by the Energy Independence Act of 2007 and an executive order by President Obama in 2009 contributed heavily to the government’s decline in petroleum fuel consumption, energy intensity and consumption, and potable water consumption.

The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) also provides agencies with information, tools, and the assistance they need to plan, track, and meet their energy-related requirements and goals. The aforementioned sustainability goals included reducing the consumption per square foot of federal buildings by 30% from 2003 levels by 2015. With the help of FEMP, and the continued focus on energy efficiency by the administration, the federal government has decreased the energy intensity of its buildings by more than 45% from the baseline year of 1975.

Dedicating part of Hill York’s business to energy efficiency means that we are keeping up with trends in the industry and savings our clients energy and money. I know that, similar to the Federal Government, Hill York will build on our successes and achieve even greater levels of comfort for our clients.

New Florida Building Codes in Effect

It is now July of 2015, which means that the fifth edition of the Florida building Code is now in effect. The updated codes are now mandatory for all new construction or rehabilitation projects that will result in safer, more sustainable buildings and homes. You can read through all the new Florida Building Codes, 5th Edition here, but I will attempt to summarize some key changes in the Energy Code.

Before specifically stating the prevalent changes the Energy Code, the changes will increase capital costs, increase soft costs, decrease operational costs, dampen utility infrastructure demand, and improve asset value retention. This essentially means that a little more upfront cost goes a long way to improving sustainability of valuable infrastructure and improving value.

The new Energy Code now requires buildings to be 19% more efficient than the current compliant building and commissioning is now required for lighting controls and hvac systems over 40 tons. These changes will require a larger focus on sustainable development by thinking through whole building efficiency as well as individual system efficiencies. This change is in line with the trends that we’ve been seeing throughout the industry that Hill York is already ahead of. You can read about those trends here and here.

July 2 | Hill York Launches WennSoft To Enhance Customer Service

Hill York has completed implementation of the WennSoft Signature Series as its new software solution to better serve customers throughout Florida. WennSoft will complement and enhance Hill York’s existing business processes and activities at its Florida offices, improving efficiency, database management, scheduling, reporting, and creating cost savings.

“We looked for a fully integrated system to track and quote Retrofit and Construction projects, manage and perform service and maintenance, and provide technology to support our field force,” said Ken Sadlowski, Hill York’s director of information technology.

Executive Vice President Mark Kerney led a months-long, multi-state search that culminated in the selection of WennSoft in January 2014. Implementation of the software began that April. “It took a while to find what we needed, but we made a great choice,” he observed.

“What’s exciting is we’re not done,” said Kerney, who told us that this is just one very large step in updating Hill York’s technology to Make Life More Comfortable. Technicians have also been outfitted with new smart devices which will pair with a mobile application that will allow them to see all the account details instantly. Additionally, a document organization application and customer relationship manager will be added in the coming days. Finally, a web-enabled platform is a part of the next stage of implementation to provide customer access to online information. “And wait until you see our Energy Dashboard,” Kerney added.

With the WennSoft having gone live on June 15, Hill York’s WennSoft project team advises customers to allow for the possibility of a few early stage hiccups and notes that invoices and other documents will have a new look. Customers are encouraged to contact them with any concerns.

“From a technology perspective, seeing the leaps forward Hill York has made from where we started to where we are now is very exciting,” said President and CEO Chip Lafferty. “Most importantly, it’s another way to let our customers know that we don’t just want to make their environments more comfortable – we are committed to making their lives more comfortable.”

Hill York welcomes customer comments and feedback on the WennSoft program at comfortchampion@hillyork.com.

Download: July 2 | Hill York Launches WennSoft To Enhance Customer Service | Press Release PDF

Cities Set New ENERGY STAR Benchmarking Requirements

As I referenced in a post earlier this week, business driven markets and government policy go hand in hand with Energy Solutions. With the consistent trend toward long-lasting infrastructure improvements and smarter buildings in most industries across the country, it’s no wonder why we see government policy working to accelerate the savings of both money and energy.

Government regulation can be on a macro (federal) level between countries and a micro (city) level, like the movements we are seeing today. Cities across the nation are adopting policies requiring building owners to benchmark and publicly report on their energy use through ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager.

Adding to the list of 17 in the past months, Portland, Atlanta, and Berkeley join cities like New York, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Denver, and Philadelphia as municipalities that are making it easy for Energy Solutions to be implemented. It’s only a matter of time before Florida cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville enact policies that require ENERGY STAR Benchmarking. When they do, Hill York will be there as an ENERGY STAR Partner with over 6 years experience and a Portfolio of over 100 buildings benchmarked already.

Leveraging the Market and Government Policy

The private sector has been driving energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction as a part of a sustainability movement for the past 10 years. Companies and industries such as Microsoft and Coca Cola, and many more, now release sustainability reports so that consumers can see everything that they are doing to help reduce the impact made by their product or service. Apart from the private sector, governments are now pushing the sustainability movement even further with new goals to reach and a plan on how to get there.

In November of 2014, the Obama administration announced a joint sustainability venture with China to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26% below 2005 levels in the United States by 2025 and to peak carbon emissions by 2030 in China. In late March, the United States submitted its plan to achieve such reduction in greenhouse gases that included reducing building sector emissions and four other actions. One way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was the utilization of the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool to benchmark buildings and drive efficiency through building upgrades and efficient appliances. Other possible ways to achieve this is offering federal rebates for efficiency upgrades or grants on both the state and federal level.

What does this mean for Hill York, a company at the forefront of efficiency in Florida? It means that while we have been operating on a market driven wave of efficiency, we can leverage new sustainability goals by the US to bring Energy Solutions throughout the state. Hill York is already using Portfolio Manager and has benchmarked many facilities that have grown into large-scale efficiency projects. We also recently secured two Energy Solutions jobs by leveraging state grant money to improve energy efficiency; a perfect example of keeping up with all the tools at our disposal. Read, download, and print the press release here. Our business is driven by both the “invisible hand” of the market as well as government policy, and staying on top of both has put Hill York at the front of the industry.

Seeking Refunds for Misapplied Utility Rates

An issue first unearthed by the Cutrale debacle of Leesburg, Florida, is dredged up once again for over a dozen companies served by Duke Energy Florida.  The utility is admitting that some business customers are paying higher rates than they should, but Duke is refusing to compensate those companies for what they overpaid. Tampa Bay Times Article Here.

A number of factors go into creating these situations, but they all stem from a business not having knowledge and personnel needed to choose the correct rate. Investor Owned Utilities (IOU’s) like Duke Energy Florida, Florida Power & Light, and Tampa Electric offer a slew of different rates for the electricity they provide based on a number of factors like, how much you use, when you use it, how you use it, and many more. In an effort to try and simplify the convoluted choices, the different types of business rates can be placed in a 40×15 matrix as seen to the left.

For buildings like the First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg in the Times article above, who had been placed into the wrong rate structure, the matrix did little to help their billing department know something was wrong. As a result, they paid over $20,000 more than they should have and they are not alone. This is such a big problem that former employees of the IOU’s are leaving and starting businesses that review customers’ utility bills, save them money by getting on the right rate, and split the savings.

There are many companies that exist to monitor utility bills so that businesses can focus on their own industry and not worry about their energy bills. In fact, Hill York’s Energy Solutions group has energy service agreements that benchmark energy use, analyze utility bills, and monitor equipment while identify deficiencies that might cost you money. These services range in price depending on the customer, but like the aforementioned shared savings agreement, you could pay nothing upfront.

This case study describes the efficiency offerings we have while also singling out two instances where Hill York discovered discrepancies in utility bills with a value of over $80,000 and $18,000.

Study Ranks Cities’ Energy Efficiency Policies

Energy efficiency in large cities is the most effective way save resources, protect the health of the community, and catalyze the local economy. This week, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released their 2015 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard that takes the 51 largest US metropolitan statistical area (MSA) populations and grades them in the five categories below.

•Local government operations
•Community-wide initiatives
•Buildings policies
•Energy and water utilities
•Transportation policies

The intricate scoring system placed Boston in the top spot with 82 out of the possible 100 points. Following after Boston was New York City, Washington DC, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, Austin, and Denver to round out the top 10. The four Florida cities on the list, Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, and Tampa, all scored in the bottom 50% with Orlando scoring the best at 33.5 points.

Compiling this information in one place with yearly reporting is the ideal way to drive change. The old saying that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure first” holds true. This is the second year this report has been released and cities averaged an increase in their scores by 2 points. Energy efficiency is an important tool for both business and home to save money, save energy, and protect the environment. Florida cities have their work cut out for them and this is an exciting time to be a driving force in the energy efficiency industry.

Congressional Action Aims to Improve Energy Efficiency

Congress on Tuesday passed the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 that will drive energy efficiency through modest but meaningful measures. The bill, signed into law by President Obama on April 30th, 2015, has been hailed by Congress as being good for the economy and good for the environment.

The bill is made up of four sections that include: better buildings, grid enabled water heaters, energy efficient government technology, and energy information for commercial buildings. With all four sections bearing significance in their own right, the last section is a simple, cost neutral solution that will lead to positive change. This section requires federally leased buildings without ENERGY STAR certifications to be benchmarked using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and disclose its energy use report wherever practical.

The U.S. Government is the largest consumer of energy in the country and bills passed through Congress like the one above, recognize that fact and take action to change it. There is a saying that has always resonated throughout the energy management industry that you can’t manage what you don’t measure first. Here, benchmarking a building is the measure needed to better plan and manage that building now and into the future. U.S. Senator Jeane Shaheen (D-NH), a sponsor of the bill, stated that, “Energy efficiency holds enormous potential for America’s energy future and [Congress] has taken an important step toward realizing that future.”

ENERGY STAR is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that helps businesses and individuals save money through superior energy efficiency. They serve as an objective validation for products claiming to be energy efficient and also classify buildings as energy efficient through the online benchmarking program called, Portfolio Manager. The program emphasizes testing, third party validation, and compliance screening to bolster its integrity and ensure that any building, product certified will deliver the savings promised.

January 2015 | Treasure Coast Announces New President

STUART- Treasure Coast Executives’ Association announces that Mike Senecal of Hill York will be our President, effective January 1st. Mike looks forward to serving our members with the able leadership of Robert Dees, Vice President; Vince Razzino, Treasurer; and directors Derek Villar, Scott Smith and Jack Ahern. Thank you to John Baker of Accurate Septic Services, Inc. for his leadership these past six months, and welcome aboard to our new officers and directors. Walt will stay on the board as Immediate Past President.

Treasure Coast Executives’ Association (TCEA), founded in 2008, is a prestigious networking organization made up of the area’s top business leaders, and part of a nationwide network of similar associations whose beginnings date back to the 1920’s. TCEA is the premier place to come to do business. TCEA members connect with the area’s finest firms, professions and industries, providing access to a group of executives with the level of experience and authority that can’t be found elsewhere on the Treasure Coast. For additional information regarding TCEA please contact Ashley Sexton, Executive Director, at (772) 245-7360.

Overview of Board Members:
Mike Senecal – Hill York: As a family-owned, full-service commercial air conditioning company, Hill York provides system maintenance, service, energy upgrades and installation for a wide range of commercial heating, cooling and ventilation systems.

John Baker – Accurate Septic Services, Inc.:
Accurate Septic Services, Inc. is a family-owned and operated business, established in 1998. With one truck, a dream and a desire to become the
premier customer service based septic, plumbing service, hauling and transportation provider. Vince Razzino – Pascale, Razzino Alexanderson & Co., PLLC: Pascale, Razzino Alexanderson & Co., PLLC was formed in October 1999. The firm provides tax, accounting and consulting services to a variety of clientele. Consulting services include general business, forensic accounting, cost analysis, and litigation support.

Derek Villar – Treasure Cost Power Systems:
Treasure Coast Power Systems offers, installs and services top quality generators and equipment. The business is committed to ensure that customers have long lasting reliable emergency power.

Jack Ahern – Ahern & Associates, P. A.:
Ahern and Associates, P.A. specializes in architectural services. With over 20 years of experience in the Treasure Coast you can rely on them for all of your architectural needs.

Robert (Bob) Dees:
A Smart Start Building Inspections, Inc.: Smart Start Building Inspections specialize in residential, commercial, air quality, mold, 4-point and windstorm inspections. They pride themselves on professionalism, integrity and service.

Scott Smith – Firestone:
Firestone knows that they have many customers with various needs, that’s why they created the Firestone Complete Auto Care program. They pride themselves on offering the best customer service, quality products and the right solutions for all of our auto care needs. Scott Smith joined Firestone in 1991 and serves as the general manager of the Jensen Beach location.

Download: January 2015 | Treasure Coast Announces New President | Press Release PDF

December 2014 | Hill Yorkers Deliver Smiles to Foster Children With Holiday Toy Drive Donations

4kidslogoSometimes making life more comfortable means bringing kids some holiday happiness. That’s what Hill Yorkers at the Broward and West Palm Beach offices did as they joined forces in support of 4KIDS of South Florida’s Gift of Hope Toy Drive.

Culminating a weeks-long campaign to benefit local foster children who would otherwise go without, Hill York employees made donations to fuel a substantial toy-buying shopping spree.

“Hill Yorkers are called Comfort Champions for a reason,” said CEO Chip Lafferty. “I am continually proud of the way our employees take action to care for the needs of our customers, our community and each other.”

Employees showed their support by either selecting a designated gift request and buying the item for a child, purchasing a gift after reviewing a list of toys in demand, or providing a monetary donation.

Corinne Berry from the West Palm Beach office got the shopping task, battling Black Friday crowds to gather the goodies. Colleague Brian Haber made the delivery to 4KIDS of South Florida in a filled-to-capacity Hill York vehicle.

“It’s a feel-good mission,” said Berry. “There are a lot of children in need out there and bringing some Christmas joy into their lives is a rewarding experience for the givers and receivers alike.”

4KIDS of South Florida (www.4kidsofsfl.org) is a not-for-profit organization that works directly with abused, neglected and abandoned children.

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