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Energy Management Is Key to Sustainability and Money Savings

California Buildings News

Dan Weeden, President of ENERActive Solutions, an EDISON ENERGY® Company, shares how building energy management in California is leading the trend towards savings and sustainability in this interview with California Buildings News.

Energy use and conservation is one of the most challenging aspects of running an office building, hotel, factory or large apartment complex. How can a company like Edison Energy help property managers and facility engineers manage energy?

I think the challenge that energy introduces for buildings, hotels, factories, and really any other large energy user is the fact that energy is not core to their operations. As a result, it is managed with a limited understanding (and limited resources) for what can be done to improve cost performance while ensuring prudent decisions are being made to mitigate future risks for cost increases. With knowledge comes power and at Edison Energy, we are all about giving our clients the knowledge they need to make wise, strategic decisions where energy savings is optimized today, and preserved over time.

What should be done at the California state government and federal level to achieve greener energy goals without sacrificing economic productivity?

I once heard a saying that went; “As California goes with efficiency and conservation, so goes the rest of the US”. While I’m not 100% sure I agree with that (LOL), California has always been a pioneering State in  sustainability and energy/environmental stewardship. What I love about being part of company with Californian DNA is that the triple bottom line of environmental, social, and financial sustainability forms a backdrop for many of the decisions we make as a company.

Achieving greener energy goals does not have to be at the cost of economic productivity. In fact, many environmentally beneficial initiatives can be undertaken at a net positive financial benefit to the owner. Being green has long been associated with a negative financial cost impact for clients. We believe there are myriads of opportunities to improve the environmental footprint of our clients that create a robust and beneficial ROI for those with the savvy and patience to learn what the opportunities are and to implement them with care and attention.

The U.S. has lacked a robust energy policy for quite a long time. While tax incentives and other federal programs have helped promote green and renewable energy, the individual States have been more instrumental in providing incentives, rebates, and other programs that forward the deployment of new energy technologies for green energy goals. The more States that can adopt that strategy, the better! Hopefully, the rest of the States will indeed go as California has when it comes to policies and programs to promote a more sustainable world.

Many companies promise that their products or services can improve energy management, but given their complexity, how is a building manager to know which claims are best?

The noise and complexity for products and technology within the energy industry is at an all-time high. Never has it been more confusing for clients to make smart decisions for how to best manage their energy needs. Companies that are product driven will always find a reason to show how that product will deliver value. While many products and new technology do indeed deliver value, the Achilles heel in employing them is not becoming fully aware of the other options or practices that can better address the concerns and bring elevated levels of value to a building manager’s operation. Again, energy is not core to these businesses so the complexity of decision making for new approaches, equipment, technology, and procurement practices are best left to a trusted confidant that can ensure the manager is informed and options have been vetted, with a clear recommended course of action, that is aligned to their corporate financial, environmental, and social goals.

What building designs help architects and building operators achieve more sustainable goals?

The design of buildings has so many nuances and influencing factors that I look at this question more about, how can we make sure a building design is as optimized as possible. There are many techniques that can be employed to enhance sustainability goals for any building. Some of these include passive solar design, high R insulation use with ultra-low E glass, building controls with integrated monitoring and building performance analytics, geothermal or other highly efficiency HVAC technologies (which are highly dependent upon geography), which are all examples of how to improve design for buildings.

One important note is that buildings are occupied by humans who have more discretion over energy use than any method of control or high efficient system. By having employees or other building occupants educated and aware of how best to participate as an active member in how to live sustainably, a building operator can know he has the best possible opportunity for success in having a highly efficient, environmentally sensitive performance.

Can you cite examples of how Edison Energy has made a significant difference in building energy management in California?

Edison Energy is not even a year old from our launch in March 2016. In that time, we have been helping clients, nationwide, to become more competitive in their operations by creating energy cost savings results today, and arranging tremendous energy price exposure risk management practices for optimization tomorrow and well into the future.

Specific to California, we are pleased to be working with clients to create world class performance for energy optimization and sustainability. We currently are working with clients across multiple markets, developing strategies and plans for how to develop net zero communities, how to simultaneously maximize efficiency and resiliency, how to hedge millions upon millions of dollars in energy price risk exposure, and how to tailor building data analytics to optimize energy performance in facilities.

We exist at a very exciting time in the energy industry. Our core credo of being an independent, client aligned advisor is helping bring clarity and confidence to those we serve. We filter the noise of what is confusing energy managers and building operators and help them achieve the highest levels of performance possible.

This article originally ran in California Buildings News.