Sustainability Stewardship Matters

September 28, 2023

Taking your energy-sustainability program from the red zone to the end zone

Sustainability implementation leaders often face challenges when trying to get started planning, funding, and executing their decarbonization initiatives. Depending on the maturity of their programs, some facilities owners have fully funded capital initiatives while others are trying to figure out how to get out of the starting gate - most often with a limited budget. While a certain level of spending is necessary to get any type of project started, there are opportunities to fund significant portions of energy programs with project generated savings, opportunities to get funding assistance to cover up-front capital costs, and steps that can be taken to start the program off down the right path. Following are five recommendations institutions should consider to assist with getting their sustainability program started or expanded.

Utility Bill Optimization - Regular audits of utility tariffs and rates are key to leveraging the best rate structure along with inspecting utility invoices for billing errors. Money recouped from overpaying for energy can provide a nice boost to energy or like programs.

Energy Policy Development - Examine existing organizational energy policies to help determine how well they align with your sustainability objectives. Reviewing how energy is purchased, and mandating best usage practices developed at other similar facilities type groups, can free up considerable money.

Energy Portfolio Assessment - Evaluate building and energy portfolios to develop strategies for energy efficiency opportunities prior to purchasing renewable energy. This process identifies potential Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) that support a cost-effective way to reach long term carbon reduction targets.

Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) - If your goal is to add PV (Photo Voltaic), also referred to as solar, with minimal upfront investment, engaging in a PPA with a reputable solar firm can lower your energy costs through negotiating a fixed flat rate over the life of a contract. Entering into a PPA also relieves you of the responsibility contractually to maintain the PV system. Consultants can help you define your requirements by score-carding solar vendors and putting out a request for proposal to competitively bid their offerings. Consultants can also advise you on what vendors offer funding options tailored to your circumstances in exchange for renewable energy certificates that can be traded.

Energy Savings Companies (ESCO) - ESCOs develop, design, build, and arrange financing for projects that reduce energy costs and decrease operations and maintenance costs at their customers' facilities. Should that be the right solution for your campus or facilities, hiring an advisor can help you document your OPR (owner project requirements) and bring ESCOs to the table who offer the funding options that meet your stakeholder goals. The consultant can also help advise through the ESCO onboarding process to ensure that you receive fair market pricing and assess implementation and contractual risk.

Circadia Group serves as the owner’s representative to academic institutions and businesses as they pursue decarbonization. Through our program management and consulting services, we learn a lot about what is and is not working on the different projects we manage. We created this newsletter to share some of our experiences, and aligned services we provide, to those who may be pursuing similar endeavors.

Circadia Group

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