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August 24, 2017

Gone Environ-MENTAL – For Years, Organizations Have Retrofitted to Save Money and the Planet

“We all live on the same planet, but we create the world we live in.” – Abby Wynne

The most basic common link among humanity is the planet we inhabit. Approximately 1 billion people share its natural resources. Only a fraction is aware of how much of these resources are really available to use.

People and organizations, in positions of influence, have shown an unfailing devotion to teaching people about the planet, its resources, and ability to make change a part of daily business. These efforts are based on the obligation to keep the planet nourished, sustainable, and beautiful for the generations that follow.

As we reflect on our roles as inhabitants of the earth, we realize how beautiful it is.

The perceptions beyond us could depend on our place of origin.

Using you as an example, if you live in the country, take a step outside to hear the birds and the many other sounds that resemble life.

If you live in the city, you are more than likely accustomed to having micro-spaces of nature angled snuggly against populated streets, housing developments, and, possibly, landfills! Whoa.

These spaces are there, nonetheless; and, in some cases, they are worth the visit.

Depending on where you are, it may seem that the natural resources we have at hand are limitless.

At inibii, we happen to know that they are not.

To help you understand the importance of environmental sustainability, we take a step back to again look at the history.

  • When did people begin to take notice of our planet’s limitations?
  • Who cared to make deliberate changes in policy and “government-as-usual” practices?
  • What was done then and why is it important today?
  • How are organizations making changes to create sustainable differences?
  • And, what glorious technology is available to us to help measure our impact presently and in the future?

We enjoy living on this planet as much as you do. We continue to work on understanding where we can make a difference.

How much of a difference and impact do you want to make?

If you do not know, allow us to help you figure it out.

NATURE VS. HUMANITY

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.” ― Aldo Leopold

A little over a century ago, an environmental awareness awoke in the United States. This newly birthed ideology— a derivative of an environmental conscience— was formed via an organization named the Sierra Club (est. 1892 – present). Their passion was driven by the desire to save nature before it was all gone.  In their eyes, humanity posed the biggest threat if preserving the integrity of nature was not a focused effort. At the time of their inception, it was easier to admire the many wonders of nature than to envision changes that would preserve it.

As the Sierra Club advanced their cause by pushing the limits of conservation through education, social awareness, and political/media finesse, they found that their biggest ally in their mission was their purpose. Their purpose was magnetic enough to captivate the attention of the public.

The Sierra Club was most notably known for their strengthening of public policies, defeating proposals to modernize forestry land, and preserving endangered wilderness. Over time, they won the hearts of those in public office, leading to a second wave of environmentalism. Due to their persistence and hindsight into the planet’s limited resources, new environmental protection laws were later passed.

In the 1970s, Richard Nixon’s administration legalized environmental protection.

It seemed people began to take deliberate notice.

EFFORTS TO PRESERVE IS THE NEW “GOVERNMENT-AS-USUAL”

Water worth drinking, anyone? How about air worth breathing?

Native to the wake of raised concern about environmental pollution, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the standard for enforcement activities to ensure the environment was protected. The Nixon Administration’s creation of the EPA in the 1970s marked a legislative effort to protect the planet’s natural resources. There were several instances in which pollution was too big to ignore at that time; and in their eyes, people and the planet’s wildlife were dying.

The EPA had its many reasons to be a relevant enforcer of pollutant sanctions on the government and businesses alike.

In 1963, smog had killed 100 New Yorkers…

Lakes had become so depleted of oxygen content that the life it sustained was slowly eradicating

An oil spill in California slimed and killed hundreds of birds…

The air in some places had caused birth defects and miscarriages… and…

Lakes caught on fire.

A lot was happening during that time. No one seemed to feel safe anywhere. Change needed to happen.

It needed to happen quick.

In 2010, then Energy Secretary Steven Chu and former Vice President Biden approached the nation with an invigorated vision for the Environmental Protection Agency. At that time, the agency was celebrating its 40th anniversary in which it would hoo-ha into the next level of energy reduction efforts.

The nation, as we knew it, would get an energy boost; and our communities, a face-lift.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 would help government agencies fulfill promises of sustainability through financial incentives.

Some believed that the only way to make an impact on the world was to create large-scale energy reduction projects. One strategy for large-scale energy reduction was to get communities involved with those who resided and did business within them.

At one point or another, people would simply not be able to afford the energy that was going to be required in the future.

The time for change was now.

SMALL CHANGES, BIG IMPACT

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was a stimulus package pumping new life into organizational projects to retrofit homes, buildings, and other energy efficient projects. Simple retrofits proved to help make the needed adjustments for a substantial payoff, both financially and environmentally.

Businesses and organizations were encouraged to make buildings more energy efficient; but, it presented real challenges for those who did not believe in the improvement value vs. cost. The government helped non-believers understand that a process had to be implemented as a benefactor for each project, and that the return would be presented in time.

Many communities, businesses, and homeowners made the commitment to utilize property credits, energy credits, renewable energy credits, renewable energy grants, and other solar/alternative energy solution grants.

Grant incentives and tax credits are still available today. Information can be found on the Energy Star website: https://www.energystar.gov/about/federal_tax_credits and The Internal Revenue Service website: https://www.irs.gov/uac/energy-incentives-for-businesses-in-the-american-recovery-and-reinvestment-act.

Organizations are in control of their actions to make tangible adjustments. When it comes time to make changes, what tools are available for someone like you? We provide insight into a few.

**TOOLS AND RESOURCES YOU CAN USE TO ADVANCE SUCCESSFUL, HIGH-IMPACT ENERGY EFFICIENT AND RENEWABLE PROJECTS **

Many want to act now to reduce energy consumption, increase energy efficiency, and develop new sources of clean, renewable power. Here are a couple of tools to use in order to get started:

Visit Energy.gov to learn current trends in energy efficiency and renewable activities.

The link here directs you to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Emerging Technologies page. Get up-to-date with:

  • HVAC, Water Heating, and Appliances
  • Lighting
  • Sensors and Controls
  • Windows and Building Envelope
  • Building Energy Modeling
  • Buildings-to-Grid

Learn the many ways you can institute these types of retrofit projects in your building.

Or, visit the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to use simulator programs to “assess, analyze, and optimize renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies into your project,” here: http://www.nrel.gov/analysis/models_tools.html

All over the United States, organizations are preparing for the future. How do they go about sustaining their efforts through the changes of the time?

THE PAYOFF BEGINS WITH THE STRATEGY

Governments play a decisive role in boosting energy efficiency projects; but, what efforts are private organizations making to sustain their commitment to energy efficiency?

Many companies spend tons of money directly on energy each year. Most outside of the energy industries, approach its cost as an aspect to be managed. This is a huge mistake that overlooks enormous opportunities to reduce risk, advance resilience, and create new value.

When an organization is looking to sustain any project over time, they must first assess the internal and external impact by first asking:

              How much energy does our firm consume?

              What is the cost of our consumption?

              What impact does this spending have on key financial indicators such as the cost of goods sold?

              Are we capitalizing on opportunities to use renewables?

              What is our carbon footprint and what of our suppliers?

              What is our ideal objective for energy efficiency?

The responses reveal performance opportunities and gaps. From here, you can begin defining your organization’s energy savings mission.

Knowing your mission will set the tone and the foundation for acting on an increasingly viable plan for energy efficiency sustainability.

THERE IS TECHNOLOGY FOR THAT

Over the years, game-changing technologies have been pulled through the pipe. We have found that the best way to reduce energy bills for working families, business owners, and organizations of all sizes is by jumpstarting research, making bold investments, and defining a good strategy for sustained efforts.

There are big opportunities to save energy and money. As you will read later, several organizations are doing just that.

Every organization determined to change their impact on the environment is doing so by giving their buildings energy efficiency tune-ups. These retrofits are improving buildings through:

  1. **Improved design and construction techniques to improve heating, cooling, ventilating, and lighting loads **– This presents the best opportunity for reducing consumption since setting energy efficiency requirements are done at the onset of development.
  2. Building upgrades and the replacement of energy-using equipment – Retrofitting existing buildings and replacing energy-consuming equipment are critical for improving energy efficiency.
  3. Actively managing energy usage – Establishing and maintaining effective energy management systems for monitoring and controlling energy use, in large public and commercial buildings, is a low-cost means to reduce energy demand.

After these types of retrofits are in place, the data in which the improvements have made can be easily monitored through automatic sensors and energy management platforms. The data compiled is important to monitor over time to ensure you are receiving the estimated return on your investment.

To date, there are many companies that have made great strides in reducing their reliance on energy usage. They continue to provide a steward-like example for other growing, learning, and good-willed organizations. We take a moment to review a couple of success stories next.

NOTHING LIKE A GOOD OL’ SUCCESS STORY

Unlike the times in which environmental protection was a discounted notion, the circumstances have changed for many companies.  These companies utilize technology to reduce and monitor their consumption footprint.

JP Morgan Chase, Network-Wide

Last month, JP Morgan Chase announced plans to install high-tech energy sensors across its network, with the goal being a savings of $200 million dollars in utility costs.  “The ability to monitor and control everything from office temperatures to sprinkler systems from its headquarters in New York, the project puts a twist on branch innovation” (Information Management, 2017).

The is a multi-year collaboration project which includes the installation of LED lightbulbs across most of its network.

The Chief Administrative Officer, David Owen, implied that there is an economic component, but they also like the environmental aspect of it. He highlighted other benefits of “going green.” They find that people like working and banking with a company that is committed to sustainability.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Evansville, Indiana

Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Evansville, Indiana is using wireless sensors to take temperatures and simultaneously read the data at a different location. These sensors have helped save millions of dollars a year and have drastically increased their return on investment.

Using this retrofitting technology, this laboratory has reduced building consumption by 20 percent. Installing conventional wired sensors on their liquor circuit heaters would have normally cost the company $14 million. For the same process, installing wireless sensors was a fraction of the cost (Energy.gov, 2017).

CONCLUSION

We live on a finite planet with a limited capacity to sustain. It has taken the persistent actions of a growing minority to help others learn about the effects that high-energy consumption has on the planet and its vices against the human race.

In the years past, we have been transforming the way we use energy by using it more efficiently. Due to the legalization of environmental protection, we have seen organizations take advantage of recent government credits and tax incentives to do their part.

Many are focusing on improving energy efficiency at their buildings and homes by reducing energy usage.  These efforts strike the right balance for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which improve the planet’s wellbeing overall.

The impact of the changes are noticeable whether environmental, financial, or economic. Whatever the cause, as costs of energy rise, a good energy efficiency strategy makes sense, despite any formidable barriers.

Whether updating cooling and heating systems, making high-efficiency lighting retrofits, or improving other building systems (HVAC, installing automatic sensors), the full value of the savings is high.

What steps is your organization taking to decrease its consumption footprint? We are here to help you understand. Contact us here. We want to hear from you.

Interested in discovering the many aspects of data and how you can use it to benefit your organization? Check out our latest blog: Taking Data’s Lead So That We Do Things, Good Things

References:

Energy.Gov. EERE Success Story—Indiana: EERE’s Wireless Sensors Can Save Companies Millions of Dollars

Retrieved from www.energy.gov

Scientific American. Environmental Enforcer: How Effective Has the EPA Been in Its First 40 Years?

Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-epa-first-40-years/

Energy Star. Successes in Sustainability: Landlords and Tenants Team Up to Improve Energy Efficiency

Retrieved from https://betterbuildingssolutioncenter.energy.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/EPA_ES_Tenant_Report_508.pdf

Rothman, Lily. Time Magazine. Here’s Why the Environmental Protection Agency Was Created

Retrieved from http://time.com/4696104/environmental-protection-agency-1970-history/

EPA.Gov. The Origins of the EPA.

Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/history/origins-epa

EPA.Gov. EPA History.

Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/history/love-canal

Energy.gov. Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program

Retrieved from https://energy.gov/eere/wipo/energy-efficiency-and-conservation-block-grant-program

Cohen, Michael P. The History of the Sierra Club 1892-1970.

Retrieved from  http://vault.sierraclub.org/history/origins/

U.S. EPA State Clean Energy and Climate Program. Clean Energy Lead by Example Guide: Strategies, Resources, and Action Steps for State Programs.

Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-08/documents/state_lead_by_example_guide_full_report.pdf

Broughton, Kristin. $200M savings in the air vents? JPMorgan’s banks on sensor data

Retrieved from https://www.information-management.com/news/200m-savings-in-the-air-vents-jpmorgans-banks-on-sensor-data

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