Business Brains

4 energy-efficiency initiatives you should know about

Posting in Cities

Has the record U.S. heat got your company scrutinizing electricity costs even more closely than ever? Take some tips from these recent installations and contracts.

(This post was updated Aug. 13 to remove a quote from a VA employee at his request.)

I've had energy on my mind plenty, since my air conditioner here in New Jersey has run more in the past two weeks than it did for all of last summer. I hate recycled air, plus I am dreading my July electricity bill.

If the weather likewise has your business thinking about energy efficiency measures, here are four new initiatives I've been reading about that may provide inspiration.

1. VA identifies $3.5 million in energy savings. The Department of Veteran Affairs in Washington, D.C., has installed an energy analysis application from SPARC that has already helped it surface close to $3.5 million in cuts for its buildings in the U.S. capital region. The software, SPARC520, offers real-time forecasting, planning and monitoring capabilities. The VA can run forecast and reduction scenarios for 1-year, five-year and 10-year timeframes. The technology was developed in response to the VA's Greening as a service initiative.

2. 7-Eleven stores in three states reduce electricity bill by $1.2 million. Simple things mean a lot. It took a 621 stores to get up to that savings number, but 7-Elevens in Oregon, California and Washington are now using energy-efficiency features and technologies installed by Castrovilla, a subsidiary of energy services company Blue Earth. Among things helping these stores save 9 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually: anti-sweat heater controls, evaporator fan controls, door closers and strip curtains. The savings over the lifetime of the equipment is estimated at $9.5 million; the installation was funded by $1.3 million in utility company rebates. "While this project has produced the results as anticipated by the utility incentive rebate programs, there are far more potential cost savings in 7-Eleven stores," said John Pink, president of Blue Earth Energy Management Services. The company has 46,000 stores in 16 countries.

3. LED lights save $750,000 for New York real estate company. The biggest commercial property owner in New York City, SL Green Realty, is investing in LED retrofits for 21 office buildings using technology from Seesmart. The deal includes the installation of 16,000 Seesmart lamps by the end of August 2012. The project will drive an estimated $750,000 in savings and should pay for itself within three years, according to the companies. "Lighting represents 25 to 30 percent of total energy cost in the commercial real estate industry and addressing lighting efficiency is a key low-hanging front cost savings opportunity," said Jay Black, director of sustainability at SL Green.

4. Baltimore Convention Center enters 15-year energy performance contract. Approximately $18 million in electricity and water cuts are guaranteed under the convention center's energy performance contract with Constellation Energy, part of power generation company Excelon. The deal is expected to save 100 million gallons of water aside from the electricity savings. Overall, the Baltimore city government has a goal to reduce electric power usage by 20 percent by 2015. The Baltimore Convention Center manages more than 300,000 square feet of exhibition space. More in the video below:

Share this

Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure