Business

Energy Alabama Helps Local Churches Save on Utility Bills

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Energy Alabama is hosting an energy bench-marking event for local churches and houses of worship. The event is specifically designed to help them cut back on utility costs.

Many churches around the Valley use a lot of energy throughout the week. Sometimes their design isn’t the most forgiving to energy efficiency.

To continue reading the full article, please visit: http://whnt.com/2017/02/07/energy-alabama-helps-local-churches-save-on-utility-bills/

Energy Use Intensity

Here’s What Energy Use Intensity Means, And Why Should You Care

To calculate an Energy Use Intensity (EUI) score, all you really need is a few key pieces of information and some basic math skills. Sure, you’ll have to learn what a kBtu is, but it’s really not as complicated as you might think.

To understand what you EUI means—well, that’s what we’re here to discuss today. But first, let’s practice those basic math skills as we walk through a quick scenario.

So, you have a building and you may or may not want to know its EUI. You’re not really sure what an EUI is, but you’ve heard it can be a valuable metric. (This is true, by the way. More on that later.) Great. First order of business: Find out how much energy your building uses per year.

Got it? Now divide that number by your building’s total area. The resulting number is your EUI. That’s it.

 

So What Does My Energy Use Intensity Mean?

Unlike an ENERGY STAR score, which runs from 1-100, a lower EUI number generally represents better performance. Just like an ENERGY STAR score, however, you’ll be able to compare your building to others that are similar in age and size. It just won’t be in the form of a percentile ranking.

Energy Use Intensity Chart

Some types of buildings will always have a lower EUI than others, as this chart from Energy.gov illustrates.

Some good news: At Energy.gov, Portfolio Manager will do all the math for you. So no matter which units you use to input your energy consumption and building area, you’ll be fine. At the end, Portfolio Manager will spit out a number expressed in kBtu/square feet.

(In plain English, a “kBtu” is one thousand British thermal units. So now you know, and it’s up to you to decide whether you’ll ever use that information again.)

But here’s the kicker: It’s possible to calculate an EUI for virtually any building. (That’s not the case with an ENERGY STAR score.) So if you’re taking the North Alabama Buildings Performance Challenge, calculating your building’s EUI could generate some seriously valuable energy-efficiency information for yourself and your company.

Even if your building doesn’t produce enough data for an ENERGY STAR score.

So basically, when you calculate your EUI, you’ll know how exactly how well you’re doing with your efficiency efforts. What’s more, you’ll be able to identify areas for improvement.

And most importantly, you’ll continue to make progress toward your overall goal of improving your building’s energy efficiency.

Energy Alabama to Help Local Churches Slash Energy Costs with Energy Benchmarking

HUNTSVILLE, AL—Energy Alabama is helping local churches and houses of worship get the most out of their utility bills and reduce church energy costs with energy benchmarking. More budget for work in the community is just a perk.

On Tuesday, February 7, Energy Alabama will host an Energy Benchmarking at Avion Solutions, Inc. on Research Drive in Huntsville. At this free event, local church representatives will have energy experts on-hand to help guide them through the process of using energy benchmarking to save money on utility bills.

Energy benchmarking is the process of measuring how much energy a building consumes, and comparing it to the same data from similar structures. This benchmarking “jam session” will bring energy experts together with church leaders to maximize energy and water efficiency throughout the community. In addition, businesses will be able to identify potential projects eligible for ENERGY STAR certification.

Tickets are free, although space is limited. The jam begins at 5:30 p.m. and finishes at 8:30. Refreshments will be provided. Each building representative should bring the following:

  • Laptop or tablet
  • The building street address, year built, and contact information.
  • Twelve consecutive months of utility bills for all fuel types used in the building.  Historical energy use data can be downloaded on the Huntsville Utilities website with an online account.

Space can be reserved at: https://alcse.org/events/church-energy-benchmarking/

About Energy Alabama

Energy Alabama is accelerating the transition to clean, sustainable energy throughout Alabama. We accomplish our mission by educating young and old alike, informing smart energy policy, and providing technical assistance to help deploy more sustainable energy. We believe in 100% sustainable energy for all.

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For more information about this topic, please contact Daniel Tait by phone at 256-303-7773, or by email at dtait@alcse.org.

Understanding Energy Performance Contracting

Understanding Energy Performance Contracting

An investment in sustainability can take many shapes, but one unavoidable fact about today’s high-performance technologies is that they usually cost money to implementand most of the time, it’s all up front. But if you’ve been ruling out a sustainable solution for purely financial reasons, we’d like to introduce you to a concept you really ought to know about: Energy Performance Contracting.

It might just change your mind about sustainability. And it might just save you a whole lot of money, too.

Energy Performance Contracting, to borrow the Energy.gov’s phrasing, is a “budget-neutral” method for reducing energy and water consumption while increasing efficiency in your building. In other words, Energy Performance Contracting helps your building use less energy while creating zero negative effects on your bottom line.Understanding Energy Performance Contracting

“Normally offered by Energy Service Companies (ESCOs), this innovative financing technique allows building users to achieve energy savings without up front capital expenses,” notes HUD.gov. “The costs of the energy improvements are borne by the performance contractor and paid back out of the energy savings.”

You get the benefits, while somebody else shoulders the financial burden. Not bad, huh?

“Energy performance contracting isn’t the best choice for everyone. But it can be a major tool for many budget constricted companies or governments,” says Daniel Tait, CEO of Energy Alabama. “At the end of the day, don’t let upfront cost stop a project when you have a tool like energy performance contracting.”

 

So, Where To Start?

The process is surprisingly simple, as outlined here at EnergyStar.gov. First, you competitively select an Energy Service Company (ESCO). This part is completely up to you. Of course, we’re happy to help!

Once you’ve selected your contractor, the ESCO will develop and then execute an all-inclusive energy-saving plan for your facility. The project should include an introductory energy audit as well as some kind of Monitoring and Verification (M&V) process that ensures continued savings. Besides energy efficiency, the ESCO might also focus on water conservation and distributed generation, among other components.

With the plan in place, you’ll work with the ESCO to set up long-term financing through a third party. This could be an operating lease, municipal lease or something else entirely. The idea is that the improvements cost you nothing in capital expenditures up front.

(Lease-purchase agreements are probably the most common method for financing an Energy Performance Contracting project. If you want to know more, that link has plenty more information.)

 

Reaping the Rewards

Finally, the ESCO should offer you a guarantee that your project will pay for itself through the savings generated by that all-inclusive energy-saving plan we mentioned above.

It’s as easy as that. Boost efficiency. Save money. Reap the rewards.

So, what kinds of buildings are ideal for Energy Performance Contracting? Government facilities ara a good choice, since governments generally own their buildings long-term. This makes a 10- to 20-year financing term attractive. But really, any large building could be a good candidate. Hospitals, schools, corporate headquartersthese are just a few of the facilities that could benefit from Energy Performance Contracting.

For more information, or to learn how to get started, contact Energy Alabama CEO Daniel Tait by email at dtait@alcse.org.

Understanding an Energy Use Index

The North Alabama Buildings Performance Challenge is an initiative to cut energy usage in our community. When you’re using ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager, you’ll be able to calculate the amount of energy your company uses by using the Energy Use Index (EUI). The main benefit of using the EUI is that you can compare your building’s performance to similar facilities across the country. By itself, an EUI is practically useless, but, when you compare it to a statistically relevant data set, it can help you understand how well you perform against your peers. This device is a good way for companies to figure out how their building’s energy usage measures up to other buildings that are similar and to help them set energy usage goals for the future.

A practical use for your EUI is to set energy goals and benchmarks. By monitoring your EUI each year and using the information that it gives you, you can set tough but achievable energy usage goals. Each month, you’ll need to enter the data from your utility bill, making it easier to track improvements over time and giving you the ability to automatically see the difference it had on your EUI.

An EUI isn’t the one and only useful device, but it’s just one of the tools afforded to you by ENERGY STAR and the North Alabama Buildings Performance Challenge. You can have an EUI in the top 25% out of similar buildings around the country, but your work space might be uncomfortable. Don’t sacrifice your employee’s work place comfort just to cut energy usage. The key is not to just reduce energy consumption but to cut the waste and still get your work done.

SIDE NOTE: There is a big difference between site EUI and source EUI. Site EUI is the type of energy use that most of us are used to; it’s the energy use that shows the amount of heat and electricity consumed. That is what is reflected in your utility bill. To see how the energy use for a building changes over time is the reason why we look at the site energy usage. Source EUI is the calculation that accounts for the entirety of energy use. It is the total amount of raw fuel that a building uses to operate, which includes the on-site energy uses.

Ready to see how the Energy Use Index can work for your company? Try it out! It’s free!