Evolution Energy Partners: Energy Efficiency Regulations are Hitting U.S. Cities. How...
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Evolution Energy Partners: Energy Efficiency Regulations are Hitting U.S. Cities. How Can Businesses Prepare?

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Chuck Hurchalla, President, Vanessa Strausser , VP of Energy Procurement and Rob Holdsworth, VP of Engineering, Evolution Energy PartnersChuck Hurchalla, President, Vanessa Strausser , VP of Energy Procurement and Rob Holdsworth, VP of Engineering Cities across America are enacting sustainability policies that send a clear message to businesses: Clean up your act or face the consequences. This poses a major problem for businesses who know how to succeed in their respective industries, but may know less about maximizing energy efficiency. In order to bring down their energy costs and hit targets set by state and city governments, businesses may need to turn to outside help to understand all of the options available to them. “Business leaders and their employees are experts in their own fields, but that is not always so when it comes to energy efficiency and sustainability,” Evolution Energy Partners’ vice president of engineering, Rob Holdsworth says. “We can show them that there are greener ways to run their facilities that benefit both the environment and their bottom lines.”

"Evolution Energy Partners is unique in the industry with the ability to look at a facility’s energy cost center from an owner’s perspective and positively impact the three critical areas such as commodity price, energy consumption, and long-term energy management"

Evolution Energy Partners is a premier, full-service energy engineering and consultancy firm with more than 70 years of combined energy experience actively serving more than 500 current commercial, industrial and institutional customers with over 5,000 individual utility meters. Chuck Hurchalla, president of Evolution Energy states, “Evolution Energy Partners is unique in the industry with the ability to look at a facility’s energy cost center from an owner’s perspective and positively impact the three critical areas around energy; Namely, commodity price, energy consumption, and long-term energy management.” The energy consultancy and engineering firm is a recognized industry leader specializing in Design-Build Energy Efficiency Projects, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Project Financing, Utility Supply Procurement and Risk Mitigation, Sustainability and Energy Management Strategies.

In April, New York City Council passed the largest single carbon reduction effort of any city worldwide. The policy specifically targets older buildings larger than 25K SF and requires that they cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030. Carbon emissions mainly come from the use of electricity, natural gas, heating oil, steam, and biofuel. Buildings that violate the carbon cap will be fined $268 for each excess ton of carbon they emit each year. For some properties, that fine could amount to millions of dollars, especially in large cities like NYC where buildings account for 67 percent of the more than 50 million metric tons of carbon the city emits annually.

To make the necessary changes to avoid these massive penalties, including replacing outdated heating, cooling and lighting systems, building owners will need to retrofit older buildings with updated energy-efficient technology. While this new policy only affects New York, Holdsworth pointed out that many other cities often follow New York’s lead regarding energy standards. Some developers are taking action before similar legislation reaches them. In preparation, Philadelphia real estate developer, Bart Blatstein, decided to make green updates to the Showboat Atlantic City, his New Jersey hotel.

A good partner is one who can offer energy efficiency, manage commodity risk and provide on-going data analysis. This combination ensures property owners hit mandated efficiency goals while increasing profitability, as well as tenant acquisition and retention

The Showboat has been a mainstay of the Atlantic City boardwalk for decades, but its energy bill and carbon footprint were impacting both the environment and Blatstein’s bottom line, so he reached out to Evolution Energy Partners to build a comprehensive energy efficiency plan. Evolution worked with Blatstein to reduce the facility’s carbon footprint by more than 3M pounds of CO2 annually and save more than $381,000 per year in energy costs. “The Showboat is a beloved landmark hotel, but when it came time to make it more sustainable, we knew we needed a partner like Evolution Energy,” Blatstein says. “Evolution gave us the solutions to become a model of sustainable building operations and resource conservation in New Jersey.” At the Showboat, Evolution began with lighting, upgrading the fluorescents, incandescents, and halogens in common areas and back of house areas to efficient LED lights. The team also designed a new heating and cooling process with smart thermostats, which allow for temperature setbacks when guest rooms are unoccupied. In addition to saving more than $381,000 per year in energy costs, the Showboat received over $100,000 in utility rebates. The 3M pounds of CO2 Showboat was able to reduce annually is equivalent to 157,706 gallons of gasoline, or 1,495,571 pounds of burned coal. Phase two of Evolution’s energy plan for Showboat is ready for implementation in 2019. Evolution projects that this second phase will boost the hotel’s energy savings an additional $258,000 a year while further reducing the building’s carbon footprint by an additional 4.3M pounds of CO2 annually.

“This isn’t just about New York—stringent energy efficiency regulations are coming out in Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington DC and many other major cities across the country,” Holdsworth says. “There are countless buildings across America, and they may all soon need to comply with these rules.” Holdsworth adds that building owners and management companies need an energy partner on their side who can not only implement energy conservation measures but also provide energy procurement strategies that reduce their cost per unit of energy.

He also recommends finding a partner that integrates a best in class energy management and sustainability reporting platform, such as the platform developed by Goby Inc., to enable portfolio benchmarking, energy budgeting, utility bill auditing and more.

“A good partner is one who can offer energy efficiency, manage commodity risk and provide on-going data analysis,” Hurchalla says. “This combination ensures property owners hit mandated sustainability goals while increasing profitability, as well as tenant acquisition and retention.” Hurchalla summarizes the company’s model as a simple three-step process:Start with a no-cost ASHRAE Level 2 equivalent audit to identify opportunities for efficiency projects. These projects must meet specific returns as outlined by the customer but typically will only proceed if the project pays back in 3 years or less or generates positive cash flow when financed through one of the many options Evolution Energy offers. In addition, this step identifies all available sources of utility rebates, grants, etc.

Next, identify opportunities to reduce the unit cost of natural gas and electricity consumed currently or in the future through an analysis of current market conditions and the drivers of future movement. If savings are not available, develop a hedging strategy that matches each client’s risk tolerance but allows for opportunities to reduce cost. Vanessa Strausser, the company’s vice president of energy procurement, states, “the most critical piece of this step requires an in-depth understanding of utility tariffs and the various cost components of each commodity.”
Lastly, Implement the Goby online utility bill management system to automate the process from receipt of utility bill up to payment. The platform provides a graphical view of utility data for operational and financial personnel to use as a primary tool to make better-informed decisions and verify that the decisions made produce the desired results. The functionality of the platform includes bill auditing, benchmarking, budgeting, sustainability reporting, weather normalization, etc. Hurchalla highlights this critical step and emphasizes, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure, and the Goby platform simplifies this important process so that both financial and operational personnel can collaborate in a data-driven way toward achieving their common goals.”

From its beginning, the company’s leadership believed that a simple but customized approach to each client’s needs with full transparency would be unique in the market and would allow clients to see Evolution Energy as a valued partner, not just a vendor. This approach has become even more important as sustainability has become more integral and imperative to both society as a whole and to companies’ bottom lines. Companies are continuously searching for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, improve their sustainability efforts and meet energy efficiency goals for the benefit of the environment and their shareholders. Whether it’s contracting for electricity supplied under a Green-e certified agreement or engineering an on-site solar or CHP (co-gen) solution, Evolution Energy understands that they must continue to be an industry leader and innovator. Evolution Energy continues to be committed to their clients, dedicated to continuous learning and consistent in their passion to adapt to changes and be on the forefront of new technology adoption.

- Elizabeth Lee
    June 07, 2019