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Smart Buildings, Smart Businesses

The latest generation of smart technologies and interconnected systems are raising the energy I.Q. of commercial buildings. Companies are taking advantage of these innovations, putting them to work to raise energy efficiency and reduce overhead costs. Commercial facilities are being retrofitted with technologies that respond to changes in occupancy, usage, weather, and even utility rates to maximize energy efficiency. A must-read new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) tells all. It’s loaded with information about the types of smart solutions available, and the potential savings you can realize by implementing them. And it includes plenty of case studies that illustrate just how all this works. Here are a few of the [more…]

Indoor Lighting Ideas for Your Business

Energy Efficient Lighting Still Our Most Popular Upgrade Ever drive through a business district after dark in December? Ever notice buildings with every office fully lit long after the staff has gone home? Ever think about how many businesses are virtually burning money all winter? Hmm. Maybe we can all be doing more to use lighting more efficiently and save on energy this winter. Let’s consider a possible to-do list. Automatic and programmable lighting systems Install lighting controls that turn on and off with motion sensors, and automatically go dim after working hours. Stop paying to light rooms when no one is in them, and start collecting the savings! Lighting where you need it, when [more…]

Find and Fix Hidden Energy Thieves

Heat leaks bleed money and comfort from your workplace. Many commercial buildings have dozens of hidden cracks where heat escapes. Finding and sealing them is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bill, and they cost next to nothing to repair—often just some caulk and weather stripping. Here are some how-to pointers for tracking down and arresting these pesky energy thieves. Define the boundary of the heated area. Decide which areas of your building will be heated, and which will not. Next, imagine drawing one continuous border around the heated area. This is known as the “heated box.” Be sure plumbing pipes are included inside your heated box so they won’t freeze. Seal [more…]

Minnesota #10 in Energy Efficiency in 2016

Congratulations, Minnesota! Once again our state is being recognized as a national leader in energy efficiency. The 2016 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, researched and published by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), ranks Minnesota as the 10th most energy efficient among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The states topping the list are California and Massachusetts (tied for #1), followed by Vermont (#3), Rhode Island (#4), Connecticut and New York (tied for #5), Oregon (#7), Washington state (#8), Maryland (#9), and Minnesota (#10). ACEEE praises Minnesota for our state government-led initiatives around energy efficiency. Because Minnesota imports more energy than we export, energy costs represent a net drain on our economy, while [more…]

Is Your Networked HVAC System Secure?

Smart technologies are reducing energy use and cutting overhead costs across industries. Many larger companies now have networks that optimize efficiency by controlling building temperature, lighting, maintenance and transportation systems from a central dashboard. These technologies are a great step forward in efficiency and a proven approach to managing energy use. But networked systems of every kind are at risk from hacking and other malicious data loss or theft. A networked HVAC system was the entry point for the data breach at Target in 2014. The hackers gained access to Target’s financial data systems by stealing the login credentials of an HVAC services contractor. Credit card information for 40 million customers was stolen, the company’s [more…]

Make it, Smarter: Manufacturers Save Big with Energy Efficiency

Energy use is a major cost driver for manufacturers. The good news is that cutting or eliminating energy waste in day-to-day operations can save manufacturers a bundle. Let’s take a look at three popular energy upgrades for manufacturers. You might find common-sense opportunities for cutting energy costs at your facilities. Let LEDs light the way Upgrading to LED bulbs and fixtures is a fast, easy, and affordable way to save energy in warehouses, factories, and office buildings. LED technology is rapidly advancing, and consumers now have more choices than ever for interior lighting design, bulb shape, intensity, and color value. And don’t forget exterior lighting, especially with the shorter days of winter approaching. High-efficiency LED [more…]

Efficiency Is Now a Vital Energy Resource

In the ongoing debate over which energy resources best serve the country’s needs, or most deserve investment of our tax dollars, the conversation usually centers on fossil fuels vs. renewables. But energy data collection and policy discussions too often omit one of the largest electrical power resources in the U.S.: energy efficiency. Analysis just released by The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) quantifies the size of the energy efficiency resource that currently exists in the electrical power sector. They do so by estimating the energy savings from just three of the many major energy efficiency policies and programs. “Our new analysis finds energy efficiency is the 3rd largest resource in the U.S. electric [more…]

Financing Options Keeping PACE with Businesses

As businesses grow they must boost efficiency. Reducing energy costs is a reliable way to trim overhead costs and increase competitiveness. But some businesses hesitate to make larger energy-saving improvements when their initial investment will also be larger. “We may outgrow this space in a couple of years,” they say. “What happens to our investment then?” Fair point. Now there is a type of financing developed for commercial property owners and renters that are exploring significant energy upgrades. The State of Minnesota Property Assessment Clean Energy (PACE) program allows eligible businesses and nonprofit organizations to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy systems, and make payments in the form of a voluntary assessment to the property. [more…]

Tap Energy Savings in Your Home Office

Many of Minnesota’s largest businesses are actively engaging in energy conservation. Big companies with big facilities are realizing big savings when they reduce energy consumption. The sustainability leaders at these companies deserve our recognition and praise. Keep up the great work! But what about home offices? Are we doing all we can to conserve energy at our home-based businesses and home offices? Not so much. When you add up the potential energy savings across hundreds of thousands of home offices in Minnesota alone, this is a market segment that deserves our attention. If you have a home office, you may not realize there are great resources available to help your space be more energy efficient. Information, [more…]

Missing Out on Cold Cash? Save Energy on Refrigeration

There’s a reason why your parent griped at you to close the fridge door when you were a kid: Doing so runs up the energy bill. This is not news to food service companies, including grocers, restauranteurs, food product manufacturers, and convenience store owners. Keeping cold spaces cold typically makes up the largest portion of their energy bills. What is news are the energy-saving advancements in refrigeration technology that are now available to replace conventional energy-hogging motors—and quite often receive a utility rebate for doing so. Cut refrigeration costs 40-70 percent The latest electrically commutated (EC) motors can cut refrigeration energy use and cost by 40-70 percent over shaded pole motors on evaporator fans. In fact, Energy [more…]

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