Monthly Archives: August 2014

Window Film As A Cost Saving Measure

In most energy audits, replacing old windows with modern, double-pane, low-e units is an effective way to reduce energy loss, yet allow light in to bring in warmth in the winter and to reduce electricity use from artificial lights, particularly with workers around. The problem is that modern windows are usually fairly expensive, and therefore, have a longer payback than most other energy conservation measures. An alternative way to save money is to place a film inside your existing windows to improve insulation. Effective window film is usually made for clarity, tensile strength, and stability.

While window film can succeed in reducing fuel and electricity use, for a relatively cheap cost, be aware of the following items you may need to check pertaining to window film:

• Window integrity. Should your building have old, single pane windows, window film can enhance their insulation properties. However, window film cannot improve or cover over any structural deficiencies. If existing windows are cracked or if the surrounding brick needs upgrading, well, window film will not help. Before installing window film, make sure existing windows are inspected and upgraded should there be cracked panes or areas needing caulking.

• Drafts and pressure. Window film does not have the integrity of a window or a wall to keep out air, particularly from high winds or from high pressure differences. Before installing window film, make sure leaks are sealed and the building space is balanced. Anticipate air leakage during major wind events.

• Moisture. Window film is generally not effective at keeping moisture from moving, particularly in areas where window seals or frames are ineffective. Keep an eye out for condensation or other reasons for moisture buildup on walls, particularly on higher floors and in corners.

If your windows are not very old and of a strong structural integrity, window film may be a cost-effective way to improve energy efficiency and to allow workers to be more comfortable. However, if your building and its windows are old and damaged, it is critical to inspect all windows and to either invest in efforts to improve the structure of your windows (caulk or replace cracked pane) before installing window film or replace the windows altogether. It may be that a certain portion of your building has sustained more damage than others and window film can be more effective in certain parts than others.

CCES has the technical experts to help you assess your energy profile and develop and implement a variety of reliable energy conservation measures to save you energy costs, reduce maintenance, and make your staff more comfortable and productive. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Optimizing Your Energy Audits

According to a 2012 Lawrence Livermore Laboratories study, the US wastes about 61% of the energy it uses. Yes, more than half! The US wastes more energy than the UK uses! Such energy waste costs the US hundreds of billions of dollars in capitalized asset value and reduces profits of US businesses by many tens of billions of dollars.

Even if your buildings and operations are doing better than average, there is likely a lot to be gained from a thorough review of energy usage. If an energy audit has not been performed in the last 4 years, then there is much to gain as new proven energy technologies have advanced so much since then. There is an excellent chance that a thorough audit will reveal multiple upgrades with significant financial benefits for you.

But the key is not just doing an energy audit, but doing it right. You need to not only use technical experts, but also those that understand your business goals and expectations.

Here are two items, often made available, you want to avoid:

Free Energy Audit. In some places, entities offer free energy audits. Well, ultimately you get what you pay for. I was once approached by a utility to perform free energy audits. The pay was terrible, and I turned it down. The only people who would do these had to be people (non-engineers?) with little or no experience. Is that what you want to base financial decisions on? Also, free energy audits are often actually sales calls, ignoring some energy usage areas and only focusing on their sales areas. A thorough audit covering all major energy usage areas that is product “neutral” will serve you best.

Here’s another story. A corporation once asked me to prepare a proposal to perform energy audits of all of their approximately 30 diverse facilities. We estimated a cost of just over $100,000, and we decided to be bold and estimated that the audits would likely save them cumulatively about $3 million per year in energy costs. Well, the company decided to decline the proposal but mandated each facility to have performed a free or cheap energy audit. Well, needless to say, this became a problem.

“Virtual” Audit. Some companies claim they can perform a useful energy audit without ever setting foot in your facility. Just provide a year’s worth of energy bills, model numbers of all equipment, and some building drawings and they can do it. While this may work for benchmarking (developing an EnergyStar rating), there is no substitute for actually walking through the facility, going up on the roof, going to the boiler room, etc. The experienced auditor needs to see how energy is used. Perhaps the most valuable information is just from talking to facilities workers, who can tell stories about the building or equipment that even management may be unaware. Again, you don’t want to make financial commitments based on data obtained without several walkthroughs.

Yes, the best way to maximize your financial benefits is with a thorough engineering study, run by professionals. Not only can good energy saving strategies be identified, but it can be done not favoring one vendor or another, better ensuring success and competition for providing the upgrade, maximizing financial benefits. Such a top-notch energy audit also may result in additional training (formal or not) for staff to operate equipment more efficiently – for you to get your money’s worth out of the equipment you have purchased.

Here are things to look for to develop the best energy audit for you:

Communicate boundaries and goals. Before the energy audit begins, a building owner or manager should communicate to the auditor what you wish to gain plus any restrictions. Maximize financial benefits? Improve the look? Just focus on one area (lighting only? HVAC only?)? Only focus on strategies with a payback of less than X years? Etc. This enables the auditor to use time more effectively to meet your goals.

Prepare for multiple site visits. Pre-set a date or dates for the site visit(s). Make sure that the facility manager is available to escort the auditor around and have at the ready information the auditor may need (drawings, equipment brochures, etc.). I once performed an energy audit and the facility manager kept me waiting over an hour. Then when he came to me, he shook my hand, told me to walk around anywhere I wanted, and quickly left. While emergencies can occur and it is thus understandable when the manager must leave the auditor, initial plans should be held to as best as possible.

Go deep into developing many energy conservation measures. The auditor should not only develop many “ECMs”, but should develop for you not only the direct financial cost of the upgrade and cost savings, but also each one’s secondary benefits. For example, LED lights not only save significant electricity cost, but last much longer than T12s and others, meaning building maintenance staff gain flexibility to work on other tasks and also take fewer trips up the ladder (reducing accident risk). Similarly, some upgrades enable workers or customers to be more comfortable, raising productivity and even sales. While hard to quantify, other benefits like these should be accounted for.

Communication. It is very important that a thorough report of the energy audit be prepared. Make sure the auditor does this. The style of the report can vary based on the company’s standards, but it should at least provide background, a description of the current building and energy equipment, the current energy profile, and a full description of all ECMs. Work with the auditor and address potential issues of interpretation by upper management. I once performed an energy audit with ECMs and the facility’s general manager was very upset at me. He felt that the way the report was written listing many areas of potential improvement made him look like he was not managing his property well. So don’t take offense, and work with your auditor so that the report is not taken as an indictment of anybody. In reality, technology changes so rapidly that there are always many areas to improve; the emphasis being cost savings.

CCES has the experience to perform any type of energy audit from ASHRAE Level I through III. We are always looking for ways for our clients to maximize the financial benefits of all energy upgrade strategies. See the benefits yourself. Contact us today at or at 914-584-6720.

Business Practices Are Being Watched By Outsiders

Companies are under growing pressure from outside advocacy organizations to improve their practices, not only in their products’ image, but even in their supply chain and how products are made. We have been in a globalized economy for some time now, as companies have outsourced manufacturing to or obtain raw materials from farflung countries, which not only do not have environmental, safety, and labor laws nor enforce them like in the US, but actually offer incentives to lure them over, such as tax breaks and very cheap labor. Another lure is that by doing much production work overseas, it would be beyond the ability of watchdog groups to watch.

But some have done just that. One of the first examples 2 decades ago was Nike, who underwent much criticism of the underage and underpaid labor used to produce Air Jordans and other brands, not to mention the unsafe conditions and equipment used. Now more advocacy groups are able to spend more time investigating a wide variety of companies. In addition, the ease in documenting and publicizing supposed misdeeds through social media has resulted in the greater potential for bad publicity for a variety of consumer brands to occur in a short amount of time.

Much of this exposure has moved into the environmental and sustainability areas, as standards for the derivation and use of energy, minerals, water, food, chemicals, and others have been scrutinized and publicized. Environmental and business practices have never been so closely reviewed and publicized by outsiders ever.

What is a company to do? A company’s reputation with its consumers is of extreme importance in this age of almost instant publication of information. A company must know that its upstream suppliers, retailers, investors, and the public all be satisfied that operations, once thought to be private, are not embarrassing in any public way.

Therefore, companies need to take a deeper look into how they manage their water, energy, resources, and environmental impacts, as well as labor and social issues, so they are beyond reproach by an external group and beyond demonization. This can best be achieved by a thorough external review of processes.

Companies must adapt to a new world of being able to research in detail many procedures thought of as beyond review and the ability through social media to publicize any perceived failings in hyperspeed. A thorough review and optimization of processes that are positive for sustainability will only make such companies look better.

CCES has the experts to help your company or entity perform detailed reviews of environmental and sustainable procedures and can make recommendations to make your program more robust and beyond reproach. Contact us at or at 914-584-6720.

Proposed Revisions To Fed. Risk Management Program

On July 31, 2014, the USEPA published a Request for Information (RFI) to seek comments on potential revisions to its Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations.


Also see Executive Order (EO) 13650: Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security. The EO is intended to enhance safety and security at chemical facilities and reduce the risks to all potential affected parties (workers, public, etc.) associated with a hazardous chemical release.

RMP (Section 112[r] of the Clean Air Act) was created in the 1990’s in response to deadly accidental chemical releases in Bhopal, India and Institute, WV. The goal of RMP was to prevent major chemical accidents from causing disasters by establishing a prevention and response program. All facilities that store or use a regulated chemical at or above threshold levels are regulated under RMP. Now that over 20 years have passed since its original inception, the Presidential EO asks whether the program needs to be upgraded, particularly to meet new security (9/11) concerns since its origination.

EO 13650 requires the USEPA and OSHA to review the chemical hazards covered by their existing risk management programs and develop options to improve them. OSHA issued an RFI on potential changes to its Process Safety Management (PSM) standard on December 9, 2013. The USEPA’s recent RFI coordinates with the potential changes to OSHA’s PSM program for accident prevention measures.

The USEPA is considering potentially updating the list of RMP-regulated substances, and adjusting their threshold quantities and toxic endpoints based on up-to-date toxicity research. The RFI seeks comment on potentially changing several existing process safety procedures under RMP including compliance audits; equipment maintenance; management of change; emergency response capabilities; and incident investigation. It also seeks comments on potential additional risk requirements, such as mandatory use of safer technologies; process safety metrics; automated monitoring of releases; emergency drills; stop work authority; and siting risks.
Public comments and other submittals for the RFI, EPA–HQ–OEM–2014–0328, are due on October 29, 2014. They may be submitted by mail or online:

CCES can help your facility determine compliance with the current RMP rule, assist in making your compliance program more streamlined and effective, and in assessing the effects of any future changes to the program to your facility for effective planning. In addition, we can help you assess all of your potential air emissions, as well. Contact us today with any questions at 914-584-6720 or at