What is retail energy? Before energy deregulation, energy consumers like homes, schools, and businesses were required to buy all the power they needed from the local utility company. The utility company generated electricity however they saw fit, and consumers paid whatever prices and fees were demanded of us. We didn’t have a choice or any power to influence the industry in any way. This arrangement made sense from a stability standpoint. However, it wasn’t exactly fair to the consumer, and abuses of the monopoly occurred all the time.
This is exactly why energy deregulation was one of the best things to ever happen to consumers (i.e., everyone). Suddenly, not only were independent energy producers able to open up shop, but consumers could choose to buy their energy based on their budget and best interests instead of from the single authorized source. This new way brought about the rise of hundreds of individual retail electricity providers and supply companies.
But how, exactly, does retail energy work? How does the energy you’re buying from the new company differ from the energy that’s always come through your wall? And perhaps most perplexingly, how does the new energy you just bought come through the same wires, outlets, and grid connection that the utility companies installed?
That is exactly what we’re here to explain today.
The most important thing to understand is that retail electricity is not generated inside the utility company power plant. This is not just an illusion with businesses passing money in a circle to pretend like you have choice. Deregulation has allowed independent power generation companies and facilities to start selling energy separately. Retail energy companies either buy energy from the new sources or build their own power generation facilities. They are selling you new independently generated power separate from what the utility company can provide; though it will enter your building the exact same way through the currently installed outlets and wires.
Those pictures of wind turbines and solar panels aren’t just for show, either. While many retail energy companies buy power from independent plants, those that advertise sustainable energy really do have (or work with companies that have) sunny fields full of turbines and solar panels soaking up freely available natural resources like wind and sunshine. There are even a few conveniently located retail energy producers that generate through hydroelectric turbines spun by fast-flowing rivers or well-placed dams. When you buy from these providers, you’re contributing to the sustainability movement by putting your money where your values are. Every customer of a sustainable retail energy provider pays for the building of more panels and wind turbines, tipping the market toward non-burning generation.
The only question is how to compare business electricity plans and choose the right one.
Of course, each individual retail energy company has their own ups and downs, deals with their own peak hour concerns, and will set up pricing in their own way. Every commercial and residential energy consumer will need to select their retail energy company carefully in order to get the best possible deal for their neighborhood and energy needs. Each new retail energy company has their own set of policies, pricing packages, and options for customers; you’ll want to compare business electricity plans before deciding the best retail energy option available to you.
When you do choose a provider, switching energy companies is a snap. All you have to do: let your old company know you will not be renewing your contract; then let the new company know you’d like to be a customer. Within seven days, your records update, and the new company sends your next billing statement. It’s as simple as that. And for anyone scratching their head wondering what the point is when nothing changes except what’s on paper, we’re ready with the answers.
How the electricity gets from your new provider to your building is perhaps the most complicated part of the whole process. Many people find themselves wondering, “Where does the electricity come from?”. After all, nothing appears to change.
When power was regulated, city planning built a shared grid made to deliver power from the central plant location to everyone in the region. That infrastructure is still in place. Back then, it was a little totalitarian, but it was uniform, and you knew what to expect. When switching to retail energy, it’s not unreasonable to at first expect there to be a new installation, a new line run to the building, or at least a new adapter on your fuse box. But retail energy isn’t like ordering cable TV. The energy you are buying from the new provider doesn’t need any new infrastructure, just access to the grid. As it turns out, it’s exactly like solar net metering. The energy is fed into the existing shared city infrastructure that reaches everyone. Here’s how it works:
No matter what kind of energy needs your organization may have, we can help. You can reduce costs, become more efficient, and integrate sustainable energy into your infrastructure. Contact us to learn more about the workings of the energy industry and how you can get better deals and service, and support sustainability in the long-term.
Energy monitoring systems are improving with advancements in technology; more utility companies are choosing to replace old analog energy meters on homes and businesses with new digital meters. These digital meters can measure a building’s electricity and gas consumption more precisely than traditional meters. They additionally provide users with more data about how they are using energy and greater control over their energy use. If your facility still uses analog meters, consider working with an energy monitoring service who can provide new digital meters; this can help you to gain better control over your energy consumption. Here are four of the reasons why you should consider investing in an energy monitoring service that uses digital meters.
A great aspect of using an energy monitoring service with a digital meter is that your digital meter will provide you with valuable feedback regarding your energy consumption. The digital meter output will go to a computer program which analyzes usage data, comparing it to historical data.
You can then use this data to learn about how you are using energy; learn when you are using the most energy, and switch your habits accordingly to reduce usage during peak hours. You can also see real-time energy consumption data, which can help you make changes to reduce energy usage.
Additionally, seeing in real-time when you use more energy than normal can help you adjust habits as they’re forming. When used correctly, this data can help you drastically reduce energy consumption, helping you save greatly on monthly utility bills.
Overall, an energy monitoring service and a digital meter can help you to gain greater control over your energy consumption. Your system can be programmed to alert you when you’re consuming more energy than normal; or alert you when you’re going higher than the demand limits you have set. The system can even help reduce electrical loads when you are consuming more energy than normal by taking non-critical items off of the grid to reduce peak load values. This fully automated system can then take the guesswork out of energy consumption, as you will know exactly how much energy you are using at all times, and you will have tools at your disposal to easily reduce your energy consumption, which can help to save you time and money.
One of the problems with analog energy meters is that they are not always completely accurate. Not only can these systems be prone to improper usage measurements, but they also rely on a person from the utility company to physically record usage data, which can lead to inaccurate utility bills. Digital meters on the other hand accurately measure energy-consumption and send usage data directly to your energy company, reducing the margin for error.
For the environmentally-conscious organization, digital energy monitoring systems can also be beneficial by helping to reduce your carbon footprint. Not only do these systems help to save you money, but they are also environmentally-friendly, as reduced energy consumption means fewer greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Additionally, digital meters help to further reduce carbon emissions by removing the need for a representative from your utility company to physically read your meter, since usage data will be sent to them directly, which means fewer vehicles on the road. Switching to a digital energy monitoring system will then help the environment in addition to saving you money.
Contact us to learn more about how a digital energy monitoring system can help to save you time and money by giving you greater control over your facility’s energy consumption.
Phantom load is the power drawn from the wall while a device is not in use and visibly turned ‘off.’ The sources of phantom load can best be identified by monitoring the flow through outlets with smart switches and power strips. In an office building almost everything can be safely switched off or unplugged at night. But many devices in healthcare facilities actually need the phantom load they draw; this enables them to continue working for patients, maintaining records, and so on.
Audit the facility and take note of which computers and devices can be safely switched off completely at night; then build a plan for how to get to each of them. Grouping things on power strips is often the easiest way for a quick convenient energy saving effort.
Medical facilities often have an opportunity to make special deals with their power providers. You may even get offers from the state and federal government as incentives to help fund energy efficiency improvements. Never take for granted your facility’s position in the healthcare industry; it can open certain doors and make special deals available to you.
Get into the habit of looking for opportunities open to healthcare facilities; ask your state and energy provider if there are any programs you can participate in. Finding these opportunities may invoke a number of positive effects ranging from subsidization for appliance upgrades to a chance to participate in business energy strategies.
Not all medical facilities have a backup generator in case of blackouts during treatment, but many do. If your facility has a backup generator, first and foremost make sure it is in good repair and ready to be put into action quickly. Your generator isn’t just a way to keep the lights on and the machines running during big storms; it’s also a great way to lower the cost of your energy.
If your region charges demand prices during peak hours each or, alternately, if your energy provider has a demand relief program for high-consumption businesses, you have a way to participate. Essentially, you can convert a small amount of fuel into energy and power your building off the backup generator on purpose during the highest energy demand hours in order to lighten the load off the power companies and the grid.
If there’s one thing that healthcare staff is good at, it’s following procedure. In order to make sure that no illness is passed between patients and records are kept absolutely private, there are dozens of careful procedures that every healthcare facility staff member has to go through every day. From administration to doctors, everyone washes their hands, maintains security on their devices, and follows facility rules about patient management.
This means you’re actually in a better position than most to get full effective cooperation from your team on any new energy efficiency policies. Try making it standard operating procedure to turn out lights every time someone leaves an office or exam room. Add turning off and unplugging certain machines to part of their putting away procedures to prevent phantom load, and completely shutting down their workstations at the end of the day. With a team so used to following procedure, you’re sure to see results as soon as everyone gets used to the new policies.
Our final piece of advice is remarkably low-tech and high-effect. Your building is notably affected by the amount of sunlight it soaks up during the day. The more light pours through your windows, the warmer it will be indoors and the temperature inside affects how hard your HVAC system has to work to keep it matching the thermostat. To this end, try implementing a new blinds policy. With easy to reach and manipulate blinds controls, it will be relatively easy to simply open the windows treatments during cool months and mornings, then close up for hot months and warm afternoons. Simply combating the effects of seasonal weather can also combat the increased power consumption that also accompanies these seasons.
Reducing your power use is all about understanding where the energy goes and the smart ways to conserve. Contact us today to find out more about how to reduce the energy use in your office and school!
Running a healthcare facility is always an interesting dance between cutting-edge technology and sticking with proven methods that work. Medical providers strive to offer their patients the highest quality care possible; they do this by remaining up-to-date on equipment, practices, and facility management policies. At the same time, it’s also necessary to keep the facility open as an independent and healthy business. Naturally, medical facility managers are constantly looking for opportunities to lower overhead without impacting quality of care or office morale. Becoming more energy efficient is one of those rare opportunities.
Medical facilities are almost always busy. Most of the time, medical professionals and the administrative staff who support them wouldn’t think twice about whether their workplace or actions were energy efficient. It’s enough that the light turns on and off when the switch is touched; one likely has little time to stop and think about energy efficient bulbs or wasted lumens. Fortunately, improving your healthcare facility’s energy efficiency is a steady project which doesn’t require more than a few minutes daily. Here are a few energy efficiency tips for healthcare facilities and doctors offices.
The first step is to put someone in charge. It’s one thing to resolve as a group to generally look for ways to improve energy efficiency; it’s another to have a central mind deciding on methods and taking initiative. Many of the ways to increase energy efficiency, like replacing light bulbs and investigating current use, require only a small amount of directed thought and implementation. A well-suited member of your current staff may be able to take on the duties without interrupting their current role.
Put your energy officer in charge of looking into energy inefficiencies in the facility. You want them finding reasonable solutions and improvements to reduce your energy use. They’ll need a certain amount of power to take action on ideas they have and access to the support of a team a few hours a week for efforts that are much more energy efficient with more than one person working together. In most medical facilities, your energy officer will likely seek approval for budget and implementation after drawing up a plan. You can also equip them with a small budget for spot-improvements like outlet optimization and clever use of power strips.
Once you have an energy officer and a few people who will occasionally form their support team, it’s time to figure out what energy optimization will even look like for your facility. Every building is different and every business has a different energy use profile. The sum of all devices and building power can be seen as a number; this is a cost on your monthly power bill. The power bill may also hold other interesting insights; e.g., whether there are demand costs in your region and with your power provider.
Looking at past power bills will give you a clearer insight of how your usage fluctuates over the seasons. It can help you consider how it may have changed in the last few years. These changes could be due to upgrading, changing out, or installing new equipment. If you can match equipment or practice changes with past power bill fluctuations, you are on the right path to hunting down ways to bring those numbers down each month intentionally.
The equipment and computers used in your medical facility are likely the biggest impact on your power bill other than the HVAC to maintain the building itself. Medical equipment does not follow the usual patterns of appliances and gadgets like coffee pots or office printers; however, they are seeing many of the same energy efficiency improvements. Do a little research on the medical and industry equipment your facility uses regularly. If there are new models that require less voltage or amperage, this means lower power consumption and greater energy efficiency.
There’s no guaranteeing which of your current equipment can be upgraded for a more energy efficient model; but depending on what you find, this could be a great opportunity to upgrade a reasonable amount of your facility equipment and perhaps a few of the computers.
One thing many medical facilities have which aren’t in common with the rest of the business world: laundry facilities. In order to keep everything sufficiently clean and be able to properly clean up after the occasional mess caused by an unwell patient, even small healthcare facilities may have their own laundry appliances and frequently run loads on the hottest settings possible. It’s a good idea to take a detailed look at these power-hungry machines. You may find a few ways to reduce the amount of energy they need.
If possible, consider upgrading to Energy Star rated appliances or something similar depending on the specialized laundry needs of your facility. Many new laundry machines are much more energy efficient than their predecessors made five or more years ago and the current machines might still be salable to another facility on their way up. You may also want to consider how many loads must be run on sanitizing hot and if there are any that could safely be run at cooler, more energy efficient temperatures.[To be continued in Part 2]
Reducing your power use is all about understanding where the energy goes and the smart ways to conserve. Contact us today to find out more about how to reduce the energy use in your office and school!
PACE specifically refers to the property assessed clean energy model of financing. It was designed to afford private property owners the opportunity (and funds) required to make the shift to an energy-efficient lifestyle. In fact, the program is available for residential and commercial properties alike. A PACE program for residential property is commonly referred to as R-PACE or Residential PACE. Likewise, PACE programs intended for commercial properties are known as C-PACE or Commercial Pace.
Generally speaking, PACE programs are enabled through state legislation. This means that you’ll be going through your local government level for authorization. You may need to anticipate dealing with your municipality in order to get into a PACE program; but the actual groups that you’ll work with vary from location to location. In some cases, municipalities do administer their own PACE programs directly; in others, public-private partnerships with PACE providers might be involved.
To reap the benefits of a PACE program, three basic requirements must be met:
PACE programs are ideal for major energy projects. A project must call for at least $100,000 in costs before PACE funding becomes available. The upside to this is there’s absolutely no maximum cost for improvements; even the most expensive projects can be PACE-funded.
Common energy-efficient building improvement projects which are carried out across the nation thanks to PACE include:
If you’re looking to make energy efficient improvements to your school regardless of funding source, PACE is a clear choice over other financing options. The loan will be repaid over time as part of an annual assessment on the school’s property taxes, meaning that you’ll start seeing net savings from energy efficiency improvements long before you would if you opted for a traditional loan.
PACE financing also tends to offer lower interest rates than those of alternative energy efficiency loans. This is because of the nature of the payments mentioned above — making payments based on property taxes is a far more secure method of payment that what’s offered in traditional loan scenarios. The obvious translation? Lower interest.
Saving money on interest and financing itself is excellent — but seeing the long-term payoffs of your decision feels even better. Most property values increase following the implementation of energy-efficient appliances and structuration, too.
C-PACE allows building owners to take control of energy costs and actively work towards saving money on repairs, utilities, and other related costs. In today’s world, countless schools often operate underfunded on shoestring budgets. Taking steps to craft lower, more predictable energy costs will allow your school’s administration to focus on what really matters: the education and well-being of the children who come to school day in and day out to learn.
If you’re interested in learning more about the qualification process for PACE financing and the savings that a PACE-funded project has to offer, get in contact with us today. Our friendly and knowledgeable team are eager to speak with you about how funding energy efficient programs through C-PACE will benefit your school. From executive staff down through to your student body, everybody who’s a part of your school’s ecosystem will benefit from a PACE project.
With energy efficiency becoming an increasingly hot-button topic, many schools find themselves inching closer to taking the plunge and dropping some cash to help their campuses become more eco-friendly. What many don’t know, however, is that opting for energy efficient solutions in schools does a lot more good than just cutting costs or helping out the environment. Everybody benefits from energy efficient solutions.
When schools make strides to become more energy efficient, they also provide their students with a better, healthier learning environment. Getting more eco-friendly systems into place can help the kids who attend school more than you might think.
A decision to upgrade to LED lighting, for example, can impact student performance and behavior. LED lights reduce issues associated with traditional lighting solutions like glare and flickering. For some children, these seemingly innocuous issues can result in vision problems; and many students with Autism have been shown to be exceptionally sensitive to flickering light.
Once these annoyances are out of the picture, students can focus, get concentrated, and may exhibit improved mood and behavior.
Anything that helps kids focus and perform better is going to help teachers do their jobs. When instructors work in a healthy and productive environment, they’re able to provide a more well-rounded and beneficial education for their students. They’re also likely to work with more motivation.
Some teachers also elect to use a school’s increasing awareness of energy efficiency as a springboard into curriculum. Not only do teachers and kids benefit from the tangible rewards of going green — but teachers also get an extra opportunity to teach their students valuable lessons that they’ll carry with them through the rest of their lives.
Working energy efficient technology into a school makes school grounds safer for everybody. When HVAC systems are upgraded, for example, air quality is improved; that’s a clear benefit for anybody who’s regularly inside of school buildings.
Even quick and easy fixes, like swapping out old lights for LEDs, can help improve campus safety. Teachers, parents, students, and other faculty alike can all feel safer walking to and from their vehicles if parking lots feature bright and consistent LED lighting.
When a school chooses to implement energy efficient solutions, it’s really about benefiting the people inside of it. A facility may look shiny and new when it’s outfitted with brand-new fixtures, but looks fade; the benefits to be had from going green will continue to impact those who are on the ground inside of that school for decades to come.
Some of the more tangible benefits of adopting an energy efficient setup include:
Beyond benefits such as these, schools who place emphasis on energy efficiency often receive positive attention — be it from the press, the community, or local businesses. States who have a vested interested in energy efficiency may even prompt government or other high-ranking officials to get involved with recognition; and that goes a long way.
In the average K-12 budget, the only cost higher than that of energy is relegated to personnel. Studies have shown that when schools decide to take on an energy efficient face-lift, they may be able to recoup as much as 25% of their energy costs — that amounts to a sizable lump of cash.
Savings like these benefit the school and its staff, but they can also benefit the community further:
If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of implementing energy efficient solutions, contact us today. Our knowledgeable and friendly representatives are eager to speak with you and develop custom solutions to meet your individual and unique needs.
Tipp City, Ohio (July 15, 2019)—Van Wert City Schools, in partnership with Energy Optimizers, USA, is poised to launch a sweeping energy and security improvement project that is expected to save the district more than $115,000 annually.
Starting this month, Energy Optimizers, USA, will begin work to:
The project is expected to wrap up by mid-August, before the start of school.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Energy Optimizers, USA, on a project that will not only improve our energy performance, but also the quality of our classrooms and auditorium,” said Vicki Brunn, Superintendent. “The savings we attain from these relatively simple measures will be channeled directly into the innovative programs that make our district—and community—stand at a level above the rest.”
The school district’s biggest payback will come from the lighting retrofits. The new lighting will deliver savings of up to 75 percent over the existing fluorescent technology. It will also last five to six times longer than the district’s current lighting systems.
The LED lighting systems will also improve the classroom experience for students and staff alike. State-of-the-art flat-panel LED systems offer sleek, low-profile lighting without the hum and flicker associated with fluorescents. The flat-panel LEDs also allow for stronger light distribution than fluorescents while the fixtures provide full dimming capabilities, features that are in high demand in educational settings.
The district will also realize significant savings from the upgraded lighting and HVAC controls. This component will include occupancy and daylight sensors to reduce wasted electricity as well as controls and programming upgrades to maximize the efficiency of the heating and cooling systems.
When combined, all of the energy conservation measures will be equivalent to removing 177 cars from the road or saving 271 acres of trees.
“Best of all—we will do this without needing to request additional funds from our taxpayers,” Brunn said.
VWCS will use the LED Lighting and Energy Savings Program through the Ohio Council of Educational Purchasing Consortia (OCEPC). This program will enable the district to make these cost-cutting improvements at no additional expense to taxpayers while ensuring the best possible pricing.
“Van Wert City Schools has received well-earned accolades at the local, state and national levels for academic innovation and performance,” said Greg Smith, founder of Energy Optimizers, USA. “This project is a natural reflection of the district’s application of evidence-based strategies in pursuit of better results. In this case, those results will take the form of measurably lower utility bills and more funding for classrooms.”
About Energy Optimizers, USA
Energy Optimizers, USA works with educational, governmental, commercial and industrial customers to implement energy savings opportunities to reduce operational costs, including lighting retrofits, renewable energy projects (wind and solar), HVAC retrofit projects, building automation retrofits and energy education programs. The company was named to the INC. Magazine Top 500 list of fastest growing companies in the U.S. (2014), was named the Fastest Growing Company in the region for two consecutive years by the Dayton Business Journal (2013, 2014), and was named a finalist in the Dayton Business Journal Best Places To Work competition in 2016. To learn more about Energy Optimizers, USA, visit their website at http://energyoptusa.com or call them at (937) 877-1919.
Everyone always talks about the power bill when green policies are the subject; but electricity isn’t the only bill you can save money on environmentally responsible policies. Considering the water table, the supply of fresh water, and the cost of piping water into your building, there are a surprising number of ways to significantly reduce the amount of water your building uses.
Aerating faucets, for instance, disperse the water over a wider area. This makes the water flow more slowly reducing the chance of waste. Coffee pots may fill a little more slowly in the break room but it will be easier to wash hands.
Point-of-service water heaters are another incredibly useful green school improvement on both the power and water level. These can notably reduce the amount of time it takes to warm up water at the sink. Because heat is lost when water pipes away from a heater, you can save energy by reducing that distance.
Lastly, the way you landscape can save a lot of water. The suggestions we made previously can cut the amount of sprinkling necessary all year long. (This included using sturdy local plants that are happy with the amount of rainfall in your region; and doing a lot of gravel-scaping.)
An organization that takes no interest in what or how their staff eats will wind up with a lot of food packaging in the trash. Cup noodles and TV dinner are the vast majority of what people bring to work; they’re easy to prepare and eat quickly in a break room. However, when combining staff wellness and environmentally friendly policies (two things that are implemented together quite often), it’s easy to find ways to feed everyone healthy food and practically eliminate the lunch break trash issue.
Many organizations order catered lunch for their staff. However, this usually includes heaps of plastic bags, disposable silverware, and individually packaged meals. All that will wind up in the trash. Not even the recycle bin. Instead, try buying a variety of healthy groceries, pans, and dishes. Encouraging staff to cook for themselves is a great way to promote food variety, health, and reduce waste.
Another aspect of environmental practices is to think about ways to use less gasoline. According to tradition, keeping track of multiple schools requires regularly visiting these locations and driving out to one if something comes up. From district superintendents to consultants, you can save a lot of gas and the associated travel expenses of lost time and road food by relying on video conferences instead. This turns what could be several dollars or more each trip to an almost free interaction.
Perhaps it’s time to redecorate classrooms, put in more desks, or expand into the next section of your building. There is always a certain amount of expense in terms of furniture. While your initial inclination may be to buy new out of a catalog, stop and think for a moment. There are many reputable outlets for used furniture that has been treated well and inspected to ensure that it is just as high quality as what you could buy directly from the manufacturer at a much lower cost.
Recycling is green in every aspect; buying used furniture is an interesting way to turn the school green without changing anything about quality or experience. The only sign in your school that you purchase used furniture will be the bottom line. As long as your faculty are happy about the new furniture, you can feel good knowing that the school simultaneously saved money and contributed to the no-waste culture of not tossing perfectly good furniture.
And, of course, we saved the most obvious savings for last. There are dozens of popular ways to go green that can significantly reduce the amount of power your property needs to run without cutting into your workflow and efficiency. LED light bulbs and fixture replacements require far less electricity than incandescent or gas-tube style lighting and burn cooler meaning they are also safer to be near and interact with. Smart devices and sensors can turn off lights in unoccupied rooms for you and handle the thermostat so your HVAC runs more optimally. You can even use a combination of smart outlets and power strips to quickly eliminate phantom load.
And, of course, the addition of solar panels and battery banks can actually generate new sustainable energy and offset the amount of power you need to buy from the utility company or a retail supplier. With the right battery strategy, you can even augment your power use during peak hours to reduce your monthly demand pricing charges. Going green has never been so good for your budget.
For more ideas on how to optimize your energy use and save money for your school, contact us today!
Energy Optimizers, USA, LLC specializes in developing, engineering, and implementing energy efficiency, facility improvement, and solar projects for educational, governmental, and commercial customers. Our goal is to reduce our clients’ costs while saving the environment.
We emphasize ethics, honesty, customer service, and education with our customers, associates, vendors, contractors, and partners. We are committed to providing our services in a professional manner at a fair profit margin that exceeds the expectations of our customers.
Our Project Development team is looking to add a full-time Senior Energy Engineer to join our fast-paced company. Our new office in downtown Dayton is easily accessible and our entrepreneurial team culture provides a positive and rewarding growth opportunity for all Associates.
Every year, we increase our demand for environmentally friendly practices. More and more organizations and businesses are examining their current practices; they’re looking for ways to either decrease their environmental impact or eliminate it entirely. From choosing only new-growth lumber suppliers to energy efficiency in the offices, every effort a company takes to be environmentally responsible is another positive point in the eyes of the customers and industry as a whole. Some big names like Whole Foods have built a powerful reputation; much of their customer base is due to their central premise of environmentally responsible policies.
But environmental policies have a lot more to offer than good PR. One of the major reasons so many organizations have taken an environmental approach to management: ‘green’ thinking is naturally conservative. When trying to waste less, you think about making the most of every resource your company spends money on. By trying to reduce your school’s environmental impact, you find yourself looking for more cost-effective ways to achieve what the school may have been doing on automatic for years.
Most schools and businesses are familiar with ways to achieve energy efficiency. This has been the major focus of environmentally friendly talk for both residential and public buildings. Today we’re going to go beyond the power bill; we’ll take a look at many other ways to lower your school’s overhead with environmentally friendly practices.
Consider the amount of trash that your school hauls out every week. Does your school pay for trash disposal by weight? Are you regularly over-filling your dumpster with paper and disposables? Environmentally responsible practices can significantly reduce the amount of waste you produce and the cost of dealing with it. Splitting your trash between waste and recycle is only the beginning. But actually thinking about minimizing the use of disposable packaging and making use of things that might normally be thrown away can significantly reduce the amount of waste you produce.
Methods to reduce your waste can often also double as saving money on office supplies. If, for instance, you are constantly throwing away or recycling cardboard boxes, consider looking into sturdy reusable plastic bins instead. You could even develop a box-trading system with vendors and partners also interested in environmental policies.
What about when the printer makes a mistake or prints that extra mostly-blank page? Keep a stack of one-side-used printer paper for scratch paper and temporary printing tasks.
The attitude you take when choosing your school landscaping significantly influences not only the cost of the initial design implementation but the upkeep throughout the year as well. Some organizations take the opinion that appearance is everything as long as the planting phase isn’t overly expensive. However, importing plants that are better suited to other climates will need more watering, tending, and protecting from non-ideal weather. Organizations are much more likely to consider the value of regionally native plants which thrive in local soil and climate; especially when thinking ‘environmentally friendly’.
Another consideration is that trees, bushes, and flowers can all be beautiful and oxygen producing without the hassle and expense of maintaining a lush green lawn that nobody walks on. You can still have beautiful landscaping with colored gravel or wood chips over the expenses; gravel doesn’t need to be watered, fertilized, and discourages insect activity.
One benefit that few companies see coming when they implement recycling, conservation, and more creative green policies is how much the employees love it. Everyone likes to work toward a purpose and going green adds purpose to almost every activity throughout the day. Even cleaning up after lunch is more purposeful because it feels good to remember to recycle, or choose meals that don’t include disposable packaging. Working together and thinking of new ways to save power, water, paper, or reuse things that would have been thrown away is fun and adds a new dynamic to the everyday office routine.
By making environmental responsibility your new policy and getting everyone involved in the effort, you will likely notice an increase in mood, productivity, and cooperation. If you want to enhance this increased morale, bring a few green plants into the office as well. The additional oxygen and mood-lifting benefit of plant life will continue to improve the morale benefits of green policies.
There are a number of federal and state tax incentives available for taking on green practices. The best known is the available tax deduction for the costs of installing your own solar panels. Whatever size of solar installation suits your school and building, the government will refund you 30% of the cost in taxes. If you happen to have the opportunity to invest in geothermal, you can get a 10% tax deduction for these costs as well.
Reducing your school’s energy consumption by installing highly efficient new lights and appliances can also qualify for a tax credit. Providing that you achieve a 50% or greater reduction in energy costs, you may qualify for up to $1.80 per square foot of improved building space. Even if you achieve 16.666~% or greater, you can get a $0.60 deduction per square foot.
For more ideas on how to optimize your commercial real estate and save money for your school, contact us today!