by Frank Sherman,
2012 ends as a year of uncertainty. Uncertainty about the political landscape, uncertainty about climate change, and uncertainty about business have weighed heavily on our clients minds. At least the Mayan calendar did not end. What is certain is that 2013 looks to be a good year.
Energy plays a significant role as we look ahead to 2013. It is fuels and impedes business success. It causes global climate change yet holds many of the solutions to this crisis. The politics of energy reflect the transformation that is happening throughout our economy. Old ways are dying and old industries and business practices are becoming relics relegated to the LA Brea Tar Pits of time. The more entrenched businesses and industries become, the more they sink into the past. Innovation, technology, and new economic models are creating the next generation of great businesses, and their approach to energy is critical to their success.
Alpine is a forward looking company. We look at 2013 as a year for performance and it reflects our optimism for all the business opportunity we see across the country. We sense this in conversations with our clients and our colleagues. Businesses are looking ahead and planning for long term growth and success. 2013 looks like it will be the year of the long play, where smart investments position businesses for future success. Here are a few trends to take advantage of in 2013.
He Who Generates the Energy, Profits from the Energy. The Renewables Industry has made huge strides in the past few years and is transforming many sectors of our economy. Solar and wind are maturing technologies. Efficiencies are improving, systems are becoming more dependable, and costs are dropping dramatically. In many parts of the country solar is a smart investment.
Generating energy onsite has many advantages. Solar and wind are free resources for generating electricity that offsets electricity you otherwise pay for. Dollar for dollar, you come out ahead if you can generate electricity onsite. Many businesses are looking at rising future costs and investing their energy dollars in systems where costs are lower and predictable. We work with clients to make this easy and affordable as part of comprehensive strategy to improve business performance.
There are other options for generating energy onsite besides solar and wind. Microturbines and cogeneration is proving to be another cost effective strategy for managing energy costs, even for small and midsized businesses. The key to profiting from onsite energy generation is being smart about available energy resources and technology.
Conservation is like Gold. Moving forward, waste is the next great untapped resource. We generate plenty of it in all forms, especially energy. Visionary thinker Amory Lovins coined the term Negawatt Power in 1989, and slowly people have come to see its value. But now the gold rush is on!
Wasted energy costs businesses money, a lot of money. By some estimates 30%-50% of the energy used is ultimately wasted, costing businesses many thousands of dollars. Implementing an energy conservation program harvests those lost dollars all the while making businesses more profitable and successful. A good plan is strategic, incremental, and resourceful. Businesses of all sizes are benefiting from this type of planning by using inhouse resources and outside expertise. We spend a lot of time talking to clients about the business benefits of energy conservation, and see this as a major trend in 2013.
Energy Performance is the New Status Symbol. Businesses that “get it” now want to flaunt it, and that can be good for the brand. We are seeing more and more companies talking about energy conservation successes and the positive impact it is having on their business. They understand it is important to stock holders, investors and to their customers. Whether energy conservation is being socially responsible, or being green, it helps connect customers to their brand. It is smart business, and everyone likes to show how smart they are.
Energy performance as status symbol is being propelled by forward looking cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles that now require large buildings to benchmark and report energy use. New York City recently released data on building energy performance and it is instructive to see who the energy winners and losers are. In a hyper competitive market such as New York, operating out of a building with outstanding energy performance is a business status symbol.
Winning like the Biggest Loser. Coming out a recession where many businesses went under and most struggled to survive, making your business stronger and more resilient gives you a competitive advantage. Our fascination with reality-TV weight loss shows can provide us with some real world business wisdom. There is a lot of excess energy to be conserved, like excess fat to be lost, in buildings and building operations. The process takes commitment, perseverance, and is not without a certain amount of sacrifice and difficulty. The effort makes your business healthier and stronger. Some are able to do it themselves, but often we need a good coach to help us achieve our goal.
2013 is going to be the year for finding your energy coach, developing a plan to trim energy use and making your business healthier, stronger, and more competitive. Each business needs its own plan with goals that make sense. Increasingly, businesses are talking to us about being their energy coach. We see this trend continuing.
In spite of all the uncertainty in the nation as I write this, there is a growing optimism that 2013 is going to be a good year. Businesses are ready to do what it takes to succeed in the long term. Innovation, new technology, new business models, and new metrics for success are popping up everywhere. Businesses are harvesting energy savings to invest in the future. The biggest winners are making smart investments in energy conservation and technology. Expertise is out there with the tools and the resources to help businesses make smart energy choices. Find your energy coach. Perform like a champion and don’t hesitate to show it.
Frank Sherman is an architect and green consultant based in Philadelphia PA. Frank is East Coast managing partner of Alpine Green Solutions, a national green building and energy efficiency consulting company, and maintains a design and consulting practice Terrain Consulting+Design focused on green building design and construction. Frank is a green building expert, educator with Cleanedison, and aspiring beekeeper.