3 Steps to Energy Savings

3 Steps to Energy Savings

You can spend a massive amount of capital on an Energy Management System (EMS). The purchase of software and hardware is pricey. Like any system, you have to worry about adoption, and like any system you will be sold a cadre of bells and whistles that most likely won’t be used. But energy savings shouldn’t start with an expensive EMS. You can create an organic, natural EMS just by following a few steps. Here are three ways you can create an organic EMS:


power outlet with plugged in cord, closeup isolated on white. limited dof, focus on outlet.

Step 1: Observe the off-hours

Much of energy waste happens when few are in the building. Lights left on, homogenous lighting schedules, heating and cooling systems poorly programmed—all lead to significant energy abuse. You can do much to manage your energy savings by simply observing when few are in the building. This is an idea borrowed from the “Lean” manufacturing approach. Lean enthusiasts call it “going to the Gemba”. Gemba is the source or place where something occurs. By going to Gemba during off hours, you can observe lighting schedules; you can tell if the schedules have been homogenized, meaning one size fits all scheduling; and you can tell if the building is being heated or if fans and space heaters have been left on. Just observe your utility bills during a holiday. That will tell how well you are scheduling systems for off-times.  Simply going to Gemba and observing goes a long way to managing energy costs.

power outlet with plugged in cord, closeup isolated on white. limited dof, focus on outlet.Step 2: Observe your plug load

What’s your facility’s plug load?  Plug load includes heaters, monitors, printers, anything that plugs into the buildings circuits. Spaces heaters are significant energy zappers in cooler climates. Often, they come with thermostats that switch the heater on and off depending on the set temperature. While this is a good thing, it’s also a bad thing because building occupants forget to turn them off when they leave.  The heaters then make a nightly routine of heating unoccupied space adding significant load to the plugs. The same is true about other electronics that add to the plug load.  Monitors left on and printers that go to sleep but don’t completely power down also add load to the plugs. Some estimate the average plug load for a facility to be up to 50% of electricity usage.

power outlet with plugged in cord, closeup isolated on white. limited dof, focus on outlet.Step 3: Educate

Do you have an operating plan? Good chance you are required to have one. If not, as you complete steps 1 and step 2, you will start to develop one. A solid operating plan will incorporate energy savings into the plan. Share your plan with building occupants. Show them the cost and implications of off-hours usage and plug load. Tell them how that impacts the company’s costs. You can do this by providing tent cards on break room tables, posters on employee note boards and by educating through the company’s intranet and communication channels. Getting your building occupants to help you will take you a long way towards reducing your energy costs.

Marc Collings

Senior VP of Sales and Marketing at Varsity Facility Services
Marc Collings is Varsity's Vice President of Marketing for Varsity Facility Services. Marc oversees the company's growth, branding, positioning, customer support and analytics. In this role, he has positioned the company as a customer solutions leader for lowering cost and improving quality. He also led the company-wide rebranding and strategically positioned the company as a sustainability leader, serving on a committee for the EPA, obtaining the Ashkin Group award for sustainable leadership, leading Varsity's CIMS Green Building certification with honors, and developing Varsity's S.H.A.P.E. sustainability strategy, which improves service results along five dimensions: Safety, Health, Asset Preservation, Productivity and the Environment.

In 2011, Marc's team won the large company category, "Best in the Industry" marketing materials from the Building Service Contractor Association International (BSCAI). Marc also directs Varsity's proposal writing, sales process and tools development, marketing campaigns, corporate website SEO performance and customer support center.

Marc has spent his career developing strategic capabilities that enhance value to customers and the company. A Lean Sigma Green belt himself, he developed the company's Lean Sigma offering, providing an innovative solution to customers' need to lower cost while raising quality. He led the development of JanOPS, an industry-leading janitorial operating system, which brings standardization and service consistency to large campus and geographically disperse national accounts.

Prior to this position, Marc was responsible for strategic management at Varsity. He has initiated or directed multiple strategic technology initiatives, ranging from a corporate website, a corporate intranet, a web/smartphone based quality control system, a learning management system, a corporate content manager and knowledge wiki, salesforce.com deployment and customization, and an Android app which facilitates the GROW sales process he has developed.

Marc is the author of several leadership and management training manuals, field guides, marketing collateral and case studies. He speaks Portuguese and Spanish and holds a bachelor degree in English/Technical Writing and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from Idaho State University. Marc enjoys mountain biking, skiing, fishing and golf. He is happily married, and he and his wife Victoria enjoy raising and spending time with their four children.

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