Monthly Archives: June 2014

How To Sell Energy (and Other) Projects Internally

As an energy, sustainability, and environmental consultant, I am constantly “selling” appropriate projects to clients who can really benefit. As you readers probably know between this newsletter and my website, I have a short flyer entitled: “The 9 Purely Business Reasons To Save Energy”. Not saving the polar bear or the Amazon Rain Forest, but direct financial benefits. Not hypothetical or “blackboard”, but with real-life case studies. Convincing, overwhelming. I used to think this was a slam dunk to win business helping entities set up such programs. But as I sit down with more and more business or municipal leaders, everyone agreed that these 9 reasons were spot on and appropriate. However, this approach would be a tough sell in-house. What can be done to make it easier for you, the reader, to sell such a program (and increasing your budget to do so) to your corporate or municipal leaders?

The most common problem is that the person making the decision to allocate money to begin or expand an energy or sustainability program is somebody who is not in the field day to day and maybe does not even understand what sustainability is. The answer, it appears, would be to educate that person. The problem is that this takes time, something the executive simply does not have or a desire for. But to further your career, it is helpful to give you some tips to sell such projects internally, and that’s what’s contained in this article.

When your supervisors tell you that a project you are interested in “doesn’t fit into the budget,” it may mean that they don’t understand the true value of the project. There are two options: lower the cost and/or raise the value of the project in their eyes. You can lower your potential project’s cost, but then you increase the risk that the project will have a lower impact or value to the company and/or will fail.

The better solution is to re-position and re-communicate the proposed project in such a way that it shows value to those specific decision makers and what they consider important. This lends itself well to energy, which has many potential, diverse benefits.

Here is an example that I recently experienced. I made a presentation to a municipality focusing on street lights, and upgrading them to LEDs, for better lighting using less electricity. In the room was the mayor, the Treasurer, and the head of the DPW. This is a fairly conservative town that does not like to take what they perceive as “risks” (do anything much different than was done in the past), nor care about environmental or global concerns. In the entire presentation, I did not even mention even once words like carbon footprint, greenhouse gases, or climate change. I knew that if anything this would turn them off. I stuck to financial benefits only. I presented a rough calculation that when all the street lights are switched, they would save at least $250,000 per year in avoided electricity costs (and more as rates increase in the future), money that could be spent elsewhere. I asked whether this was a significant savings and could be useful to their budget as their citizens demand more services. I honestly did not know if this was a significant savings or not. The Treasurer chimed in quickly, yes, they sure can use the money not spent on energy for shortfalls in other areas. (They can’t raise taxes anymore.) She became a fan of the proposed project. I then mentioned that most LED vendors warranty their street lights for 7 years, meaning there would be much less maintenance to replace non-operational street lights. Would that be helpful, I asked? Yes, very much so, said the head of DPW. He said he currently had 2 fellows nearly full-time replacing blown out lights. There were plenty of other tasks his department was behind on that he could use those two staff people. He became a fan of the proposed project. Finally, I prepared a rough conservative financial analysis of the project, demonstrating that the project will likely have a return on investment of 14% per year. I joked and asked what bank offers such a return! But in reality, they should have little problem getting a bond at a lower interest rate seeing this potential return. I also presented a calculation of what are the consequences of not doing the project, keeping the status quo. Over 7 years, the town would spend more money than if they did the project (just spread out) replacing bulbs, not get the quarter million per year saving, and not free up the staff people. Now the Mayor himself saw the contrast and he got on board. Now, the entire group, skeptical about any new project, supported the project because it brought value in areas of importance to each.

The key here is to understand the decision maker(s). What is important to each of them? What does each perceive as “value” to themselves personally or to the company or municipality? Remember that these values vary between people, based on their specific needs. Therefore, before bringing a proposed project to the attention of the decision makers, it is critical to assess each decision maker’s role and what is important to each one. You therefore need to think through what each believes is of value.

Therefore, the key is to focus on the decision makers’ needs or value system. It’s hard, but try to minimize including what you think is of value. Doing so will overload the information and “values” being transmitted to the decision makers. Too much information may be a turnoff and/or dilute the impact of the items of value.

This is how you will increase the value of your proposed product or service in the client’s eyes. Good luck. I hope you succeed in getting your proposed projects approved!

CCES can help you or your group prepare proposals and presentations concerning energy, sustainability, and environmental for internal review and approval, highlighting the many and specific values that it can give your entity. And, of course, we can manage and implement the projects, too, to achieve those savings and values you espouse. We are here to help you succeed and meet your goals! Contact us today at or at 914-584-6720.

The Hidden Benefits of Energy Efficiency

I was fortunate to have been the construction and environmental manager for one of the largest conversions from No. 6 oil to natural gas so far in NYC. 3 large boilers, providing heat and domestic hot water for 8 high-rise apartment buildings and other areas, were upgraded in preparation for the fuel switch. It is now two years since the switch was implemented, and I was asked to estimate cost savings for these two years compared to the last two full years of full No. 6 oil service to determine cost savings. Well, between the improvement in thermal efficiency and the price difference between natural gas and oil, the building owners have saved millions of dollars per year compared to before the switch, despite the fact that the last two winters were colder than the earlier two under No. 6 oil (in terms of heating degree-days)! The payback for this multimillion dollar project will be under 3 years. It is being hailed as a success. The client is happy.

But it turns out that the client has achieved other benefits it did not expect. By switching from No. 6 fuel oil only to natural gas with No. 2 oil as a backup, they have much fewer oil deliveries. Before the project, the boilers were combusting over 2 million gallons of No. 6 oil per year. Trucks used to travel through the narrow neighborhood streets to deliver oil approaching 300 times per year. Every time a truck arrived some workers at the boiler house had to stop their tasks and help the truck driver load the storage tanks. Now, with No. 2 oil as a backup, in the first year of operation there were only 2 truck trips all year! Only twice workers were interrupted from other tasks to help unload. From nearly 300 interruptions to 2. So this has caused stress to go down and productivity up.

Plus, boiler house costs and time devoted to maintenance have decreased. Natural gas is easier to manage compared to thick No. 6 fuel oil, which itself has to be heated just to flow. Pumps, valves, and other equipment had been taken out of service and cleaned and serviced much more than they need to now, improving efficiency among the staff. The new automated control system has also saved staff time.

Finally, the switch to natural gas substantially reduced the risk of a calamity. There was a risk of No. 6 fuel oil leaking from some overburdened piece of equipment, causing preparation for such an event and the potential tremendous cost involved in removing and cleaning this viscous fuel. Now with less No. 2 oil handled and a new modern tank farm, the risk of a spill and the potential cost if one were to occur are both much lower.
This housing complex’s switch to natural gas for its heating needs has been a big financial winner for them, not only in terms of efficiency and direct cost savings, but also in terms of these less visible, but critical additional gains in operational improvements.

CCES has the experts to help you evaluate all of the advantages of a fuel switch or other boiler upgrade to save you money and aggravation, as well as to manage its implementation. Contact us today at or at 914-584-6720.

Amendment of Renewable Biogas Rule Almost Final

The USEPA sent amendments to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that would further incorporate the use of biogas into the RFS. OMB review is the last step before finalizing an agency rule—it is reasonable to expect the final rule to be published some time this summer.

RFS requires gasoline and diesel refiners, blenders and importers to purchase and use an renewable fuel credits (RINs) representing volumes of renewable fuel to offset the annual production of petroleum-based transportation fuel. The final rule, if not modified by OMB, would increase the number of RINs required generated on biogas and therefore, increase the value of those RINs. This is part of the strategy to encourage the profitable production of biogas for heat and for transportation.

Currently, the USEPA allows the generation of “Advanced Biofuel” RINs only for biogas produced at landfills, wastewater treatment plants and manure digesters used as a direct transportation fuel (unmodified). Biogas that is converted to another form, such as electricity, and then used as a transportation fuel (electric vehicles) are not included.

The proposed rule allows biogas from landfills to qualify as a Cellulosic Biofuel, which would generate a RIN. Few RINs are currently from cellulosic sources. The USEPA has also proposed that the entity that can generate and sell the RINs is the “producer” of the renewable fuel, the company that compresses or liquefies the biogas into compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas that is combusted as the transportation fuel.

The proposed rule would also allow RINs to be awarded for biogas that is subsequently converted to electricity, provided that that electricity is used as a transportation fuel. Given the large amount of room, most of the biogas collected at landfills, wastewater treatment plants and dairy farms is combusted to produce electricity. Some of that electricity is used for energy for the facility’s processes (pumps at wastewater treatment facilities, pasteurization at dairy farms). The proposed rule would require the producer to delineate electricity from landfills used specifically for transportation and all other uses of the electricity. Only the former would qualify the producer for RINs.

How will this affect you and your company? The proposed amendment of the RFS biogas rule will further encourage the production and distribution of biogas for electric and compressed natural gas-fired vehicles. Now that electricity can be an intermediate to qualify for RINs, more electric vehicles will be on the market and, therefore, become more affordable. This should also increase the number of biogas projects around the country, spur research, and make them more ubiquitous and profitable.

CCES has the experts to help you determine your proper energy mix for not just your processes, but for your fleet and other needs, as well. We can help you reduce your risk by expanding your energy sources and save money, too. Contact us today at or at 914-584-6720.

Obama Administration Announces Plan To Cut GHG Emissions From Power Plants

On June 2, 2014, the USEPA, under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, proposed a plan to cut GHG emissions from power plants. The Clean Power Plan ( is projected to help cut GHG emissions from the power sector nationally by 30% from 2005 levels.

Power plants are the largest source of GHG emissions in the US, accounting for about one-third of all domestic GHG emissions. The proposal will also cut PM and ozone precursor emissions by an additional 25% in 2030.

Specifically, the USEPA is proposing state-specific rate-based goals for carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector, as well as guidelines for states to follow in developing plans to achieve the state-specific goals.

The proposal has two main elements: 1) state-specific emission rate-based CO2 goals and 2) guidelines for the development, submission and implementation of state plans. To set the state-specific CO2 goals, the USEPA analyzed strategies that states and utilities are already using for the power sector, such as improvements in efficiency at carbon-intensive power plants, programs that spur private investments in, low emitting and renewable power sources, and programs that help consumers use electricity more efficiently. In calculating each state’s CO2 emission reduction goal, the USEPA took into consideration the state’s fuel mix, its electricity market and other factors.

The proposed rules do not prescribe how a state should meet its goal. Each state will have the flexibility to design a program to meet its goal in a manner that reflects its particular circumstances and energy and environmental policy objectives. Each state can do so alone or can collaborate with other states on multi-state plans that may provide additional opportunities for cost savings and flexibility. The proposed rule lays out guidelines for the development and implementation of state plans.

The USEPA believes that the Clean Power Plan will lead to climate and health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion by 2030, including avoiding 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children. Interested parties have 120 days to submit comments from publication in the Federal Register.

While this proposed rule affect only power plants, more future rules are likely to come to reward or mandate GHG emission reductions from other source types. Planning is needed. CCES has the experience to help your entity estimate its GHG emissions and to develop cost-saving strategies to reduce these emissions, parlaying this into many financial benefits and putting you in good shape ahead of any future rules or pressure from the public to reduce. We have successfully addressed climate change for the direct benefit of many companies. Contact us at or at 914-584-6720.