Sunday, January 21, 2007

Checklist for Securing a Successful Energy Audit

NOTE: If you simply want a list of energy "projects," then look at the Energy Efficiency Manual. This is truly an encyclopedia of projects.

If you want to effectively reduce your organization's energy costs, you will need to develop a business plan for systematically identifying, selecting, and implementing energy solutions. The first step is to secure an energy audit. Continue reading this post to learn more...

___ Prepare facility staff in advance for the energy audit. Consider referring to it as an energy “profile” or “assessment” so that it sounds less threatening. Declare amnesty for current staff so they won’t feel blamed for past energy waste. Clarify that the audit is not an exercise in finding fault, but instead is a way to make more effective use of energy and improve business performance.

___ Prepare your top management or board of directors for the true business impacts of energy use now and in the future. They probably don't understand or care about pump curves, chiller set points, or power factor correction. Talk to them in their language-- business language-- that explains how energy contributes to the organization's wealth. Demonstrate the resources you will need to be an effective energy manager. Become familiar with the tools used by energy managers to addresses business priorities just as effectively as the technical aspects.

___ Secure the audit from a qualified energy engineer that has no commercial interest in providing the equipment that their audit recommends. The rationale for this should be obvious. Before accepting a free energy audit, think very carefully about what it does and does not represent. You may also want to read this post about free energy assistance resources in general.

___ A standard energy audit will produce an inventory of energy inputs, uses, and waste. It should identify the capacities of energy-using equipment. Consider expanding the scope of the audit to evaluate operating and procurement procedures. Can maintenance best practices be identified and implemented? What kind of staff training should complement the new technology? Can procurement directors observe total-cost-of-ownership criteria instead of purchasing on the basis of lowest initial cost? “Soft” aspects like these, discounted by many engineers, should be addressed in the final audit report. A failure to recognize these issues allows them to become barriers to hardware and technology improvements.

___ A standard energy audit will culminate in a list of improvement recommendations. Each line item may be described in terms of its energy savings, cost to implement, and financial payback. Consider organizing the recommendations into scenarios. Each scenario can reflect a different energy management strategy. For example, one scenario can emphasize advanced technology capital projects. A less costly scenario may feature operations and maintenance (O&M) initiatives. Other approaches might prioritize improvements that are least time-intensive or pose the least interference with facility operations.

___ Your selection of energy improvements will probably depend on who is available to implement them. Give some thought as to the risks and rewards involved in using in-house staff versus or outsourcing these tasks.

___ Establish a protocol for following up recommendations. Revisit payback analyses periodically as energy prices change. Document the total consumption savings related to implemented improvements. Express savings not only as total dollars, but as dollars per unit of production. How much output would you have to sell to have an impact on income equivalent to energy savings? Also show the cost to your organization when it chooses to delay of certain recommendations. Document these using clear graphics. Report your progress to facility staff and recognize people who contribute to your positive results.



At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found your first paragraph to be extremely important.

“Declare amnesty for current staff so they won’t feel blamed for past energy waste”

An Audit should not focus on how the plant got to where operation and energy usage are currently operating, but focus on a “Future Roadmap to Reduce Energy”.

Keep up the good work. Your articles are extremely interesting.

Kelly Paffel
Technical Manager
PSE, Inc

At 8:37 AM, Blogger Christopher Russell said...


As we both well know, technology does not implement itself. Someone has to stand up and state a compelling business case on behalf of engineers and their energy proposals. Your PSE seminars are great in showing how that's done. Thanks for commenting!


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