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Energy Conservation Measures: Justifying Investment with a Holistic Approach

April 30, 2013

In Part 1 of our series, we examined how commercial building managers can create a strong business case for investment in energy conservations measures (ECMs) as part of their high performance building journey. In this piece, we will look further into the strategies and tools for justifying the up-front costs using a holistic approach that includes tangible and intangible benefits.

When you reach the point where your ECM project is finally implemented, give yourself a quick pat on the back and then plan for some follow-up action steps. For example, execute regular reports that address the following:

  • The impact the project is having on your organization.
  • A report of the results: How much energy are you saving? How much money are you saving as a result? How does this compare to the up-front cost?
  • Assess the results by aggregation versus standalone.
  • Use any building automation tools, dashboards and software tools to maximize the building’s operations and provide the detailed reports needed to track the ROI.

If the ECM has a direct effect on the building’s occupants, such as more natural lighting, be sure to get feedback from them as well. Are they more productive? Do they have greater enjoyment coming to work? Although the hard numbers and results are typically the most important, occupant perception and reaction can provide a colorful human element to your hard work in making the ECM a reality.

To successfully communicate the benefits of an ECM for your commercial building, consider the following strategies before approaching leadership:

  • Build a solid financial case: Know your numbers inside and out.
  • Note the market conditions that may make the investment a wise decision today, rather wait for the future. For example, energy and operating costs rise faster than most other costs.
  • Be familiar with the regulatory and political conditions that can also make the argument for action now, rather than waiting. For example, climate change legislation may incur more cost on buildings that use more energy, or there may be government incentives for supporting and stimulating companies that invest in sustainability.
  • Tie in any corporate initiatives or create your own, such as a focus on controlling operating costs or setting renewable energy/energy efficiency goals.
  • Note the benefits to the company’s brand, such as leveraging a public commitment to sustainability for better talent recruitment and retention. 

By identifying and communicating the tangible and intangible benefits of ECM investments, building managers can build a stronger case to company leadership that the cost of efficiency will not only be paid back, but the additional benefits to the company’s brand and productivity can contribute even more value.

Click here to learn more about resource use and sustainability in high performance buildings.