Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Competition: The Answer to a Successful Conservation Program

It seems everyone is looking for a way to reduce their energy footprint.  The EPA’s Energy Star program provides many tools to assist individuals and companies develop energy saving programs.  One of the most effective ways to reduce energy usage does not require an expensive new system, advisor, or hardware.  In fact, it is simply in promoting healthy competition across your organization.

Businesses Drastically Reduce Consumption
The EPA recently completed their Energy Star National Building Competition for 2012, which focused on schools, retail stores, and office buildings.  Approximately 3,000 groups participated in that competition, which lasted a year.  By the end of the year, those 3,000 businesses cut their overall energy expense by $50 million.  This reduction included reducing their natural gas consumption by more than 3 billion BTUs.

Simple Measures Yield Biggest Results
Many of the buildings involved did perform some capital improvements, but most of the changes included simple conservation steps, such as turning off computers, monitors, radios, lights, and other non-essential electronics when leaving the office, and lowering temperatures when people were out of the office (many installed programmable thermostats to bring the temperature to a comfortable level before employees showed up for work).

Easy Fixes – Identifying Unnecessary Waste
It turns out that when these groups started competing, they began to look closer at their behavior and their buildings.  They found lights, air conditioning, and heat left on overnight in buildings that were empty.  Merely paying attention can make all the difference.  These competitions did not set requirements that contestants needed to implement to reduce their energy usage. Instead, each building found innovative ways to collectively reduce their energy consumption, producing amazing results.

For the Multifamily Industry
For owners of an apartment community, promoting conservation in a building or across leasing offices can result in very real savings.  Two suggested types of competitions include:

Competition across communities – who can reduce their prior year’s consumption by the largest percentage?

 Resident Competitions – which unit can use the least amount per person?

Track your Data
Tracking this data can show what conservation opportunities are available.  This is especially valuable as it helps educate leasing office staff and residents on ways to reduce their energy impact, while reducing operating costs.

Energy Star
Energy Star is looking at multifamily buildings as a prime target for participating in competitions like these.  These competitions can be a fun way to bring the focus of how to reduce energy expenses to the people that matter most at multifamily communities - the community staff and residents.  Each effort made will better prepare communities for the 1-100 score that the EPA is planning to release later this year, currently estimated in December. 

Tell us your stories and successes; we would love to hear what you do and how it impacts your business.

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