The Case for “Efficiency First”

I’VE GOT A HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION FOR YOU—

Question: Would you go out and buy an entirely new wardrobe if you knew for a fact that you were about to drop 50 pounds in the next six months?

Answer: Of course not. You’d end up with clothes that were way to big for the new you.

SO LET ME POSE A NOT-SO-HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION—

Question: Why have we focused our effort and attention on the adoption of renewable generation when most are sized to artificially large building loads?

Answer: Well, the Department of Energy (DOE) has found adoption rates for energy efficient infrastructure has lagged in nearly every pertinent equipment market—equipment that effect and/or make up the majority of a building’s energy usage.

However, as this inefficient infrastructure naturally ages out and/or innovative business models like Empower Equity’s (EMPEQ) UnFinancing℠ program aid in market adoption, these building energy loads will inevitably drop in the next five to ten years. Yet, we have advocated for assets with assumed lives of 20 – 25 years to supply the generation for this same building stock at current energy usage levels.

I have always been an enormous advocate for renewable generation and firmly believe this is the key to unlocking a sustainable future.

Still, building owners should always consider efficiency measures as their first priority when retrofitting their building site. Only after 60W fluorescent lights are retrofitted with 18W LED lights, a 93%-efficient combined heat and power (CHP) machine is providing hot water as well as producing baseline electric consumption as a byproduct—or 60%-efficient boilers are replaced with 95%-efficient products can we fully understand the building’s true energy profile for 2018.

With these long-lived, efficient assets in place, we can properly size our even longer lived generation assets to our new “slimmed-down” building—thereby creating a truly sustainable solution for the next decade or longer.

All advocates in our industry agree that the goal is to achieve a more sustainable energy infrastructure. On the other hand, if we are installing generation assets for artificially inflated loads, nobody wins in the long run.

Ultimately, the lesson here is simple: efficiency first.