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Energy Optimization: Employing it Across Your Portfolio

We’ve written before about how to enhance energy efficiency in your building(s). Now, it’s time to take it a step further and explore the newer concept of energy optimization, of which energy efficiency is just one part. Read on to discover what, exactly, energy optimization is, why it’s important, how to implement it across your portfolio, and how EnergyWatch can assist.

What is Energy Optimization?

Energy optimization is a new conceptual framework. It means using—and not using—energy across your portfolio to benefit the planet and global society. Energy optimization consists of three prongs:

  • Energy Efficiency:Using less energy in your buildings.
  • Demand Response:Voluntarily reducing or shifting your electricity usage during peak hours. Usually incentivized with lower rates or other forms of compensation.
  • Fuel Switching:Switching to green energy across your portfolio as opposed to fossil fuels.

Why is Energy Optimization Important?

Nearly 40 percent of U.S. carbon emissions come from buildings. Implementing energy optimization will allow us to dramatically reduce carbon emissions across the building sector and hopefully prevent the worst effects of climate change.

How to Implement Energy Optimization in Your Building(s)

Energy optimization may seem daunting, but by taking these measures, you can easily implement it across your portfolio:

  1. Procure green energy. In a nutshell, this means switching away from fossil fuels like natural gas and turning to electricity generated by renewable sources like solar and wind.
  2. Participate in demand response programs. Demand response programs are being used by utilities and operators to balance supply and demand of electricity in an evolving market. In heat waves or harsh winters when utilities worry about the reliability of power supply, demand response becomes increasingly useful.  Without demand response, grid operators may be forced to rely on expensive or polluting power plants to meet demand peaks. Simple adjustments at your facilities, like turning off lights, raising temperature set points, or shutting down select elevator banks are just some of the ways to easily participate in demand response programs.
  3. Take part in peak load management. Peak load management is similar to demand response as both pertain to curtailing energy demand at a given time. However, demand response is a program in which one must respond to the utilities’ requests when demand is too high and there is not enough energy to meet the grid’s peak. The steps that a customer takes once notified by the utility are normally pre-determined by the DR provider/facility engineers, and the customer is paid for reducing kW during an event. There are cost penalties if one does not respond during a demand response event since the utility is relying on you to perform. Peak load management, on the other hand, is an internal decision to cut monthly demand charges and decrease your ICAP tag. There are no direct penalties to failing to reduce your peak demand (besides having a higher ICAP tag and in turn paying more for your electricity supply).
  4. Use energy management software to increase the energy efficiency of your building(s). Energy management software makes your energy data easily accessible so you can spot opportunities for improvement in your building systems. Fixes may be as simple as switching the type of lightbulbs you use, or they could be larger scale, like installing a newer, more efficient HVAC system.

Keep in mind that these measures are not just beneficial for Mother Earth – they also benefit your company’s bottom line. Switching to green electricity helps to protect your company from future electricity price increases and volatility. Increasing energy efficiency saves you money on your utility bills, as does participating in demand response. Finally, being mindful of your company’s impact on the environment sends a positive message to existing and potential customers, investors, and stakeholders.

How EnergyWatch Can Help with Energy Optimization

EnergyWatch’s energy and sustainability management software, WatchWire, is vital to making your building more efficient. WatchWire can provide you with real-time and interval data monitoring so you always know how much energy your building(s) are using. WatchWire can also help you measure and verify the effectiveness of your efficiency projects, and benchmark your efforts against national efficiency standards like WELL Building and ENERGY STAR.

In terms of demand response, EnergyWatch helps evaluate applicable programs, notify you of potential peak load days, verify and quantify your performance, and provide a real-time visualization of your progress. Additionally, EnergyWatch helps to optimize your procurement strategy to take advantage of demand response and peak load management strategies.

Finally, EnergyWatch can assist your company in its transition to green energy. EnergyWatch provides market expertise and ensures supply contract decisions are optimized for future operations at your facility. In addition, WatchWire, tracks all aspects of your contract performance to ensure your green energy investments are paying off.

Helpful Resources from EnergyWatch