|How to be green on a budget!|
Every day we are asked to save energy, reduce our carbon footprint, and save utility costs. Some ideas are simple and straightforward - replace your light bulbs, setback thermostats, increase your insulation. Some suggestions are more esoteric - geothermal heat (actually geo-transfer), photo-voltaic solar panels, condensing boilers, fuel cells. It can get pretty confusing and complicated. In addition some of these ideas can get expensive.
How can we implement these important energy and cost-saving measures without spending a lot of money? One answer is Energy Saving Performance Contracts (ESPC's). Federal, State and Local governments, as well as school districts, have been implementing ESPC's for years and private owners can also benefit from this innovative tool.
Simply put an EPC or ESPC is a contract with an Energy Service Company (ESCO) to do all the analysis and construction work necessary for you to save energy and money. The cost for the work is offset by the energy savings realized. The energy savings are guaranteed. If the savings are not realized you have reimbursed the difference, if you realize more savings than anticipated you get to keep the additional dollars.
Sounds too good to be true - there are some caveats. These are construction contracts with all the risks and responsibilities associated with any project. These are also design/build agreements so make sure there are favorable termination clauses should you not want to pursue the energy conservation measures (ECM's) proposed by the ESCO. You also want to make sure you have a design consultant assist you to assure you get the capital improvements you desire and they are of the quality you need and expect.
Typical ECM's include: HVAC upgrades, lighting improvements, building envelope modifications, automation and energy management control systems, renewable energy systems, peak shaving/load shifting.
Measuring methodologies and verification of the energy savings are also important factors to consider in your ESPC. Federal and State agencies have additional information on these valuable tools to help save energy and money even with limited capital. For more information on these and other green building strategies, we have assembled some valuable links.