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Is Building Green Good for Business?

green building business

A comprehensive report from the World Green Building Council examined the financial value to the cost and benefits of green buildings.

A new comprehensive report from the World Building Council (WorldGBC) examined whether or not it’s possible to attach a financial value to the cost and benefits of green buildings.

The article argues that “green buildings can be delivered at a price comparable to conventional buildings and investments can be recouped through operational cost savings –  and with the right design features, can create a more productive workplace.”

In a statement, WorldGBC said that the report synthesized credible evidence on green buildings and the tangible benefits that come with it.

Key findings include:

  • Building green does not necessarily need to cost more, especially with cost strategies, program management, and environmental strategies as part of the development process.
  • Green buildings have been shown to save money through reduced energy and water use, and lower long-term operations and maintenance costs.
  • Green buildings can also be attributed to providing a healthy indoor environment that improves worker productivity and occupant health and well-being.

The report concludes that the green building industry can deliver on large scale economic priorities, and play a fundamental and cost-effective role in tackling some of the immediate changes of our time.

Source: Greenbiz.com


By Gaylen Davenport

Office Depot’s $8 Million Lighting Retrofit

Office Depot is reducing their energy use by making numerous energy efficiency investments, including a lighting retrofit project.

The company is de-lamping one out of every three bulbs in tens of thousands of fixtures across more than 1,000 stores, and adding reflectors to the remaining two bulbs to maintain light output. The $8 million project garnered an 84 percent internal rate of return.

Other measures implemented by Office Depot include adding motion detectors in warehouses, upgrading heating and ventilation, and centrally controlling energy with an energy management system.

These efforts certainly paid off, with the company reducing their electricity use from 625,000 MWh in 2007 to 433,000 MWh in 2011 – a 31 percent drop. With the reduction in electricity costs, Office Depot will save about $10 million across all their stores in the U.S.

Source: Energy Manager Today


By Gaylen Davenport

The Importance of Lighting Maintenance

Each month, Worldwide Energy Vice President and COO Gaylen Davenport will publish his thoughts on the latest energy-efficient news, products, and trends.

It’s often overlooked, but proper lighting maintenance is a large part of reducing utility bills, especially for businesses where lighting accounts for an estimated 20 percent of the total energy used in commercial buildings.

More often than not, many businesses do not have a detailed lighting maintenance policy other than replacing burned-out bulbs. Poor lighting maintenance can lead to visual degradation, reducing worker productivity, and contribute to higher utility costs. Having an effective lighting maintenance policy includes having written procedures, training, management oversight, and inventory control.

Principles of Lighting Maintenance

A cost-effective way to reduce the overall cost of lighting is proper maintenance, which is often overlooked. Lighting levels tend to decrease over time because of aging light fixtures and gathering dust and film on lamps. This can reduce the total illumination by up to 50 percent.

Basic maintenance strategies can include cleaning the fixtures every 6-24 months, replacing lenses if they appear yellow, and considering group light replacement, which can help save on labor costs, keeps illumination high, and avoids stressing ballasts with dying lamps.

The second part of proper lighting maintenance for a business is developing a policy to serve as a guideline, not only for everyday maintenance practices, but for optimizing lighting systems on a year round basis.

The policy should include things like blueprints of the facility, fixture schedules, equipment and service provider contacts, procedures for relamping, and an overview of proper lamp and ballast disposal.

Providing proper training should also be included in a lighting maintenance plan such as cleaning, lamp and fixture replacement, and fixture inspection. Maintenance personnel should also be aware of different lighting types and the relative costs of each in a lighting system. Working with lighting professionals is an added bonus to maintaining knowledge of any new technologies or policy changes.

Replacing Lights and Fixtures

Finally, replacing lights and fixtures is an essential part of lighting system maintenance. There are two types of replacement: spot and group replacement. Spot replacement is replacing lamps as they burn out, and is the most commonly used technique in traditional maintenance programs.

Group replacement is replacing a set of lamps all at once. Many studies have shown that group replacements have higher lamp costs, while spot replacement requires higher labor costs. However, group replacement has a number of advantages over spot replacement including being easier to oversee and schedule.

Lighting systems are a main source of utility costs, and can deteriorate overtime, while continuing to use the same amount of energy. You can reduce utility bills and improve lighting efficiency through proper lighting maintenance.


By Gaylen Davenport

KCP&L Rates Increase 9.1 Percent in Missouri

State regulators on Wednesday approved a rate increase that will affect 600,000 customers in Missouri.

Great Plains Energy, the parent company to Kansas City Power & Light, was granted $64 million of the $106 million requested. The increases varied among the utility’s three service areas.

About half of the customers in the KCP&L territory will see a 9.1 percent increase, so the average residential customer will see a monthly increase averaging $8.90. Customers in the Great Plains territory will see a 5.2 percent increase; an average monthly increase of $5.70. The residential customers in the former St. Joseph Light & Power service area will see an average increase of 12.9 percent which equals to about $12.91 each month.

The rates will, in part, pay for an energy plan that includes the coal-fired Iatan 2 plant near Weston, and wind energy projects. The increases will go into effect later this month.

KCP&L’s prices are up about 50 percent since 2005 in Missouri and Kansas. The utility recently got approval for a 6.7 percent increase in Kansas.

Read more from the Kansas City Star.

Common Misconceptions about Lighting Retrofits

Business owners are beginning to see the benefits of retrofitting their lighting systems to more efficient ones.

The lighting retrofit industry is quickly evolving, improving, and gaining traction. Business owners are beginning to see the benefits of upgrading their lighting systems to more efficient ones.

And while you plan for energy efficient solutions next year, there are still some misconceptions among those who are unfamiliar with products and the technological advances that have been made in recent years.

Three of the most common misconceptions about lighting retrofits are:

Misconception #1: Existing light levels are what they should be

The truth: existing lighting levels may be what employees are used to but very rarely are they what the light levels need to be. In fact, adjusting to higher lighting levels can help boost productivity.

Misconception #2: Light levels should be even throughout an entire facility

The truth: typically when a building is designed, the same light fixtures are installed throughout the building. In reality, light levels should be adjusted for the type of activity being performed in specific areas throughout the facility.

But lighting levels are not the only factor; usage plays a big role as well. For example, one side of the building, such as an office area, may be used more often than the other side of the building, such as a warehouse or storage area. Motion detection or sensors on lights are a great way to reduce the usage and levels of lighting in a facility.

Misconception #3: Existing lighting fixtures need to be replaced

The truth: With emerging technology, there’s virtually a retrofit for every existing fluorescent fixture out there. Retrofitting lights to a more efficient option is relatively low cost in terms of materials, labor, and disposal.

In some cases, replacing old lighting fixtures is the best way to save on utility usage and costs.

Do you have a lighting retrofit question? Contact us at info@worldwideenergy.com or call our office at 913-310-0705 and let us help you in your search to dubunk lighting retrofit misconceptions.

Benefits to Going Green are Tangible

A Business Review panel recently spoke about green technology and sustainability as part of a series.

Their findings? The savings from energy efficient sustainable design are real, but the benefits go beyond money as greener companies are more attractive to recruits and tend to have more engaged employees.

For example, the Golub Corp. said the company is saving with high-efficiency refrigeration and lighting systems at its supermarkets.

“The return on investment for these [projects] has been rapid and it certainly justifies the cost,” said Joe Berman, manager of sustainability for Golub Corp.

Tom Barone, acting VP of Operations & Energy Services at NYSERDA added, “People make energy efficiency decisions because it will save money, but the savings are substantial.”

Source: Business Review

Push for Exporting Natural Gas

The United States has gone from a buyer of natural gas to a potential seller after recent natural gas discoveries.

With so much natural gas available in the United States, it’s no wonder companies are making a big push to export the alternative fuel around the world.

“Once dependent on natural gas imports, the United States has gone from a buyer to a potential seller after a flurry of recent natural gas discoveries across the country accessible with new extraction technology.”

Because of shale gas deposits, the price of American natural gas is down to as little as a fifth of the price in other countries, making export an ideal opportunity.

And according to the International Energy Agency, the demand for natural gas is expected to increase by 50 percent over the next 20 years.

Source: New York Times

A Call for Energy Efficiency

In a recent blog post, Green Building Elements discusses the many benefits of becoming energy efficient including reducing running costs for businesses, lowering carbon emissions, and marketing environmental awareness.

Even though it’s a win-win situation, most companies only see the large initial investments required to “go green.” In actuality, “energy efficient solutions are often cheap and easy to implement, sometimes requiring nothing more than some logical thinking.”

The author states that many businesses and offices still leave their lights and electronics on throughout the night, which is a large consumer of energy and drive up utility costs.

Installing new and updated lighting systems, that can include motion sensors and control systems, can reduce a business’s monthly utility bills.

Source: Green Building Elements

Ikea to Power Stores with Renewable Energy by 2020

Ikea says it will rely on solar and wind energy to produce all the power it uses at its stores and buildings worldwide by 2020.

After recently announcing its staunch support for LED lighting, Ikea is looking to become even more energy efficient.

The Swedish retailer says it will rely on solar and wind energy to produce all the power it uses at its stores and buildings worldwide by 2020.

“Each roof is a power station in the making,” says Steve Howard, Ikea Group’s chief sustainability officer, adding that the potential for wind and solar in the U.S. is “as good as anywhere in the world.”

Other major retailers, including Walmart, have also set goals to becoming 100% renewable. And while the switch to efficiency does help out the companies’ bottom lines, most believe that energy independence is “the right thing to do.”

Source: USA Today

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