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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today's blog highlights a new EnergyCAP webinar series.
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.
“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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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?
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
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.
At EnergyCAP, we are always delighted when our clients receive accolades for their creative use of our products. In today’s blog, we recognize Miami-Dade County in honor of their recent NACo awards. Read on for a detailed description of what they’ve been doing. You might get some great ideas for your next energy efficiency initiative.
Oh, your aching feet! As an energy manager, your feet might ache because there's too much load on them. Your buildings may have abnormal load also, and we can measure that using a load factor calculation. EnergyCAP’s AN12 report will help you spot an abnormal load factor. It’s a tabular report that shows your load factor (from 0 to 100) for each electric bill.
There really is a medical condition known as scintillating scotoma. It has to do with “seeing stars” often in association with a developing migraine headache. But if you’re using EnergyCAP, we really want you to see stars—ENERGY STARs, that is.
The second installment in our EnergyCAP Health Checkup series is for those clients who may be seeing double (diplopia) but haven’t figured out that their historical utility bill records have been contaminated over time by inconsistent record-keeping relating to meter units of measure. Here’s how this illness is spread. Cost and use data for a meter is keyed or electronically imported year after year, but no one checks to see if each bill for a single meter represents consumption with the same energy units.