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Blaine Clapper

Success Stories From the (Energy Management) Front

City of Palm Springs, Riverside County, CA Success is commonly defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” When setting about to purchase an energy management information system (EMIS), the publicly stated purpose is commonly to reduce energy consumption. It’s a realistic, positive aim and an objective that typically garners internal and external support. That said, what ultimately “sells” the EMIS project is cost savings. Fortunately, cost savings go hand-in-hand with lower energy consumption. But that’s only part of the story. A capable EMIS that is properly implemented provides benefits far beyond consistently lower utility bills, such as labor savings, streamlined processes, enhanced data sharing/integration, and technology-driven productivity gains. The County of Riverside, CA, is a great example.

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Steve Heinz

Dating Rules for Utility Bills

In a perfect world, all of your utility meters would trip their odometer readings at 12:00 a.m. on the first day of every calendar month, all your utility bills would reflect the energy you used for precisely that period, and all planes and trains would run on time. Your relationship with your energy data would be perfect, and you wouldn’t need dating rules! In the real world, things are a bit messier. But how we handle that mess determines the accuracy and reliability of our energy metrics. Today’s blog explains a few EnergyCAP best practices for handling the available energy data to assure the most reliable outcome. Regardless of your energy management system or analytics practices, this topic should be relevant!

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Blaine Clapper

2017: An EnergyCAP Year in Preview

“A new year, a new me.” It’s a phrase I’ve heard numerous times over the past three weeks, and I witness vigorous attempts to live up to the cliché every January when I walk into my local fitness facility. Of course, by February, the traffic has gotten back to “normal.” But unlike most of those “resolutioners” at my gym, EnergyCAP’s corporate commitment to a 2017 makeover is a promise you can take to the bank. In today’s blog, I’d like to share some events that will become exciting reality in the next 12 months. But first, you can “rest” assured that product leadership and customer intimacy remain EnergyCAP hallmarks, and we’re not going to change that in 2017. We’re going to stick with what we do best: Continuing product innovation Expanding and enhancing our service offerings Adding and training customer-focused personnel Delivering a value-packed annual training conference Specifically, here is what you can look forward to in 2017.

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Chris Heinz

How We Hire the Right People

[Editor’s Note: Chris Heinz, EnergyCAP’s Vice President for Human Resources, is this week’s blogger. He brings valuable insights into the black box of corporate hiring procedures, and suggests a current methodology for maximizing value in the hiring process. Please read and consider sharing internally in your organization!] Here at EnergyCAP, Inc., we’re always looking for ways to improve so that our customers receive the best services, products, and experiences possible. One of these innovations is the hiring process. We’ve introduced behavioral interviewing into employee selection, which so far, has yielded nine excellent new hires in the last four months. If you come to Catalyst this spring, you can meet them.

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Barry Kroeker

Energy Management Resources Coming Your Way

As we gear up for a productive New Year, we are taking this blog opportunity to highlight several resources of value to the community of readers we serve. New Case Study Toward the end of 2016, we completed a case study in collaboration with James City County, VA. Entitled One Ring to Rule Them All, the study shares the advantages of energy management software for a county government. It’s a fun read that will get you thinking about savings opportunities in your organization.

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Barry Kroeker

Energy Management in the Trump Era

The dust has settled after the November elections, and the results are unchanged despite a flurry of protests. Now that we are in the final days of Obama’s presidency, one thing is certain on the energy management front: change is in the wind. Today’s blog takes a look at President-Elect Donald Trump’s ambitious energy plan, and speculates a bit on what it might mean for our industry in the months and years ahead.

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Chris Heinz

One Kind of Stewardship

Webster’s dictionary defines stewardship as, “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.” As an adoptive parent, I can understand stewardship. Bringing a child who once belonged to different parents into your home is an act of stewardship. In fact, before the adoption is finalized and before you become the legal parent of the child, you’re called the child’s “steward.” You’ve been entrusted to care for a person which is not yet your own.

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Blaine Clapper

The End of a ‘Quest

The quest began in 2009 with the best of intentions: Provide home and small business owners with a free, easy-to-use online application to track and manage their energy use. Making money on the application was not a priority. Instead, it was largely a philanthropic pursuit intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save its users some money. It was a noble quest. But alas, what had begun with great fanfare in 2009 was over less than two years later.

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Barry Kroeker

Implementation Started for State of Connecticut and City of Los Angeles

EnergyCAP project managers will be travelling coast to coast to implement new clients on the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards this winter and spring. The State of Connecticut has purchased EnergyCAP utility bill management software for statewide energy management and utility bill tracking, and the City of Los Angeles has also acquired EnergyCAP through a General Services Administration (GSA) process for comprehensive tracking and reporting of the city’s electric, natural gas and water utilities.

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Blaine Clapper

A County’s EnergyCAP Tale

In 1634, England’s King Charles I signed legislation that created James City Shire within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, that prosperous shire, now known as James City County, is home to approximately 70,000 residents and is an EnergyCAP success story.

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Barry Kroeker

Cost Avoidance Webinar will Launch New Client Outreach

Today's blog highlights a new EnergyCAP webinar series.

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Barry Kroeker

Tribute to an Energy Management Veteran

It's November 11 as I write this blog. Veterans' Day sort of snuck up on me this year. I'm not sure why—perhaps I have gotten so used to celebrating every national holiday on the artificial Monday. As I was reflecting on the significance of the day, and the freedoms protected by generations of U.S. servicemen and women, it seemed particularly appropriate to offer a Veteran's Day tribute to an air force veteran who we know well at EnergyCAP, as well as the energy management industry that sparked within him a unique but passionate patriotism.

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Blaine Clapper

Improving Utility Bill Auditing

“How are you currently processing your utility bills?” Here at EnergyCAP, we’ve been asking that question of our prospects for decades. Surprisingly, the answers are often more about what people are NOT doing, rather than what they ARE doing: The most common answers are: “Each department receives its bills, gives them a visual check, and then forwards them to Accounting for payment.” “Accounting receives the bills and pays them, and then they send us a spreadsheet to review.” Both responses ("check first" or "check later") are commonly followed by, “We know we should check our utility bills more closely, but we don’t have a system in place to do that.” These folks have already figured out that they should be auditing their utility bills. They just want to do it better. And that, of course, is where EnergyCAP comes in. EnergyCAP enables you to audit effectively.

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Steve Heinz

Green Run Amok

When I saw the green energy monitoring panel on the wall of my hotel room, I couldn’t believe my eyes. An energy monitoring panel here? I’d never seen anything like this! The building’s designers must have had some sustainability goal in mind, but drawing on my forty years of experience producing energy tracking software, all I could think was this is so…wrong!

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Barry Kroeker

GSA Advantages for Energy Management Software Procurement

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) provides centralized procurement for the federal government, offering billions of dollars’ worth of products, services, and facilities that federal agencies need to serve the public.  The mission of GSA is to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to government and the American people. In today’s blog, we will look at GSA options and advantages for utility bill/energy management software procurement for a range of public institutions, including federal, state, municipal, and higher education.

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Barry Kroeker

The What and Why of Energy Management Software Retro Commissioning

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus reportedly said that the only thing that is constant is change. He probably wasn’t talking about your real estate portfolio, but if you manage energy for multiple properties, you know that Heraclitus’ declaration has a ring of truth. Buildings and organizations change over time. Processes are revamped. Employees retire or transfer. Remodeling happens. Space is repurposed from one function to another. And systems struggle (often unsuccessfully) to keep up with the pace. Your energy management software is another system, and you may have been using it in the same way for years. But is your current approach the best approach? Have inevitable changes created an opportunity to do things differently and to do them better? Today’s blog on software retro commissioning may help you answer that question.

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Blaine Clapper

Severe Weather CAN Impact Your M&V Calculations

It’s the “CAP” in EnergyCAP—"Cost Avoidance Program"—and it’s helping more than 800 organizations across North America to measure and verify the impact of their energy conservation measures. But what happens when extreme weather threatens to hinder accurate calculations?

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Blaine Clapper

Interval Data: A Valuable Complement to Billing Data

Over my nearly two decades in the energy management software industry, I have spoken with many energy and facilities managers, and a common topic of conversation is the value of monthly utility bill data versus meter interval data for analysis. In most cases, my response is, “Do both.” Start with an analysis of billing data and refine your research and management with interval data.

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Barry Kroeker

Use Utility Data to Inspire Your Next Energy Management Project

This blog is the second installment in a short series drawn from our September Energy Leader Webinar: Tips for Getting Buy-In for Your Energy Project. The webinar purpose was simple: to help participants get more projects approved and more energy saved. Webinar speakers were Steve Heinz, founder and CEO of EnergyCAP, Inc., and Dr. Eric Woodroof, founder and principal of Profitable Green Solutions. Today we’ll share some of the insights we gleaned from Steve’s portion of the presentation.

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Barry Kroeker

Tips for Getting Buy-In for Your Energy Project

This blog is the first installment in a short series drawn from last week’s Energy Leader Webinar: Tips for Getting Buy-In for Your Energy Project. The webinar purpose was simple: to help participants get more projects approved and more energy saved. If you’re looking for tips on how to get your next energy project approved, read on!

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Blaine Clapper

Beware the Corrected Utility Bill

Today’s blog post addresses an issue that can pose a challenge to any energy manager: the corrected utility bill. Whether or not you are a current EnergyCAP client, you know the drill. Each month, you receive your utility bills, enter or import them into your energy database and accounting system, and then pay them. Pretty straightforward, right? Right... But what happens when a bill you receive this month includes a line item correcting a bill you received and paid last month or many months ago?

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Barry Kroeker

Pebble Beach Update | Webinar on Getting Project Buy-In

Our readers may remember a June blog where we shared a story about two of our EnergyCAP software developers who competed in a local golf charity event and ended up winning an all-expense-paid trip to Pebble Beach, California, to compete in the largest amateur golf tournament in the world. Today, we’ll tell you the end of that story. We’ll also share about next Tuesday's webinar—the latest in our Energy Leader Webinar series. You won't want to miss it!

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Blaine Clapper

We're All in This Together

High School Musical, released by The Disney Channel in 2006, was a huge success, nationally and in my household. The musical, which introduced the world to now mega-stars Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Tisdale, had many comic and poignant moments, but what has stuck in my head is the movie’s closing number, We’re All In This Together. Performed by the entire student body, the song emphasizes the importance of acceptance and working together for a common good, and the value that each individual brings to that effort. That melody often comes back to me when I’m participating in a family activity that has been labeled undesirable by at least one of our four family members. It was also the first thing that popped into my head when pondering energy management challenges common in decentralized institutions. Could yours be one of them?

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Barry Kroeker

Measuring Progress toward Zero Energy

I was recently reading an article on Greenbiz.com relating to Zero Energy Buildings which got me thinking (again) about the challenges associated with any energy stewardship project. Chief among these is measurement and verification (M&V). People want and need to know an answer to a very basic question: How much “X” did we save? The “X” can be any commodity, of course. But to talk about those savings, we have to have a common understanding and agreement on how we will assess them. And if the amount we save approaches the amount we use in our building, campus, portfolio, or community, we are closing in on zero energy. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in collaboration with the National Institute of Building Sciences, has made a helpful contribution in this area by preparing A Common Definition for Zero Energy Buildings. We’ll summarize this resource in today’s blog.

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Blaine Clapper

Project Approved!

At some point in our careers, we all find ourselves in a position where we have to stand up and fight. Not in the manner of physical battery, but in the way of a challenge to get our proposed budget approved, or add a staff position, or maybe even justify our own job. Energy managers are no exception to this process and frequently find themselves in front of the city council or an executive board seeking funds for an energy conservation project.

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Barry Kroeker

Software is a Tool, not the Master

Before we get started on today’s topic, let me share some exciting news regarding a company reorganization here at EnergyCAP. Don’t panic, it’s nothing dramatic or upcoming—just a part of our vision for 2016: “Getting to the Next Level.” As a company, we’ve taken a good look at where we are and where we want to go in pursuit of our company purpose, and we’re implementing some changes around here. One such change was put in place about three months ago. Our Sales and Marketing teams have been blended into one. With the meld comes an opportunity to set new goals and directions and to better harmonize our departmental visions. The new arrangement may impact our blog content.

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Blaine Clapper

EDI: Two Decades the Champ, but Still Misunderstood

Despite its 20 years as the heavyweight champion of utility bill electronic processing and payment (at least in the eyes of the largest utility vendors), Electronic Data Interchange, or EDI, is still a widely misunderstood utility billing option. A recent conversation with the energy manager at a mid-sized U.S. city went something like this: Energy Manager: “We would like you to get our utility bills and import them into EnergyCAP.” Salesperson: “We can do that. Do you know which electronic invoice formats your vendors offer?” Energy Manager: “They’re all EDI.” Salesperson: “All of your vendors offer EDI 810?” Energy Manager: “I’m not sure about the ‘810’ part, but I can log on to the vendors’ websites and download my bills in a spreadsheet. That’s what we’d like you to do for us. We want to get them in EDI, because it’s faster and gives us all of the information we need.”

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Barry Kroeker

It’s Not Fair Not to Normalize

“Data has a nasty way of representing the wrong idea when inaccurately reported.” —Tony Rovano, AssetWorks It’s your first year on the job as energy manager for a sizable regional real estate management firm. You’re proud of several new initiatives that you were able to implement, but as the summer drags on, you hear through the grapevine that the CEO has been receiving concerned memos from Accounting due to rising utility expenses. Now your supervisor has threatened to pull the plug on a major lighting retrofit that you know will pay for itself in savings over the next three years. It looks like the honeymoon is over, but you are scratching your head to try to figure out what went wrong. It just isn’t fair.

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Barry Kroeker

Lipstick on a Pig? 12 Questions to Ask an EMS Software Vendor BEFORE You Buy

At EnergyCAP we’ve been involved in a few RFP processes where we knew that the chosen Energy Management System (EMS) software vendor was not going to be able to supply the goods and/or services required. The solution (and the price!) might have looked appealing at first glance, with lots of pretty charts and graphs, but if the client stakeholders would have taken a closer look, they might have discovered that Sales was putting lipstick on a pig. If you think you may be in the market for utility bill and energy management software, you owe it to yourself and your organization to ask potential vendors the hard questions. For each question, we’ve provided an explanation and an EnergyCAP benchmark to consider as a standard for your next EMS software RFP.

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