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.

Energy Efficiency Solutions with ENERGY STAR Data Trends

Hill York Energy Solutions utilizes data and systems from the US Department of Energy called, ENERGY STAR. The ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool allows Hill York to benchmark buildings in our portfolio and compare energy use to similar buildings around the country.

That being said, ENERGY STAR has a plethora of information that is available to anyone and everyone who wants to learn about energy efficiency for work or for home.
Data Trends, visualizations compiled from all of the information in Portfolio Manager to track trends and report findings, was recently released by ENERGY STAR. The Data Trends took the comprehensive data from all building types and focused on reporting upon the specific characteristics about similar buildings.

Each two page PDF takes the information for the sector and builds a report that gives helpful visual data as well as easy-to-read paragraphs explaining the data and highlighting important or interesting facts. For example, the illustration above depicts the states that have benchmarked offices in the Unites States with the darkest blue being the most. It also explains a typical operating profile for a building so that anyone can explain why some offices are more efficient than others.

The use of big data like this to improve the efficiency of commercial buildings cannot be overstated. With so much data at its fingertips, ENERGY STAR has visualized information for thousands of buildings across the country and made it easy to access so that all property owners can benefit. The first step to managing a building and its energy use is to first measure it, create a benchmark, and set goals for reduction; ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is the perfect tool to accomplish this. Check out the different sectors that these Data Trends were created for and read the ones for the sector you are interested in here.