Monthly Archives: September 2014

New Proposed Federal Commercial AC Efficiency Standards

On Sept. 18, 2014, the US DOE issued a proposed notice of rulemaking to revise the Energy Policy & Conservation Act (EPCA) with updated energy efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners ( A public hearing to discuss the proposed measures will be held at DOE Headquarters in Washington on Nov. 6.

The following table summarizes the proposed standards, which would go into effect 3 years after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register, estimated in late 2015. After the three-year period, no applicable unit can then be manufactured or sold in the US unless it meets the following energy efficiency standards:

Packaged AC or Air-Cooled Heat Pump (HP) ≥65,000 Btu/h to <135,000 Btu/h cooling capacity
AC Elec. resistance or no heating 14.8 IEER
All other types 14.6 IEER
HP Elec. resistance or no heating 14.1 IEER 3.5 COP
All other types 13.9 IEER 3.4 COP

Large Commercial Packaged AC or Air-Cooled Heat Pump (HP) ≥135,000 Btu/h to <240,000 Btu/h cooling capacity
AC Elec. resistance or no heating 14.2 IEER
All other types 14.0 IEER
HP Elec. resistance or no heating 13.4 IEER 3.3 COP
All other types 13.2 IEER 3.3 COP

Very Large Commercial Packaged AC or Air-Cooled Heat Pump (HP) ≥240,000 Btu/h to <760,000 Btu/h cooling capacity
AC Elec. resistance or no heating 13.5 IEER
All other types 13.3 IEER
HP Elec. resistance or no heating 12.5 IEER 3.2 COP
All other types 12.3 IEER 3.2 COP

IEER = integrated energy efficiency ratio; COP = coefficient of performance (for heat pumps).

The DOE presented an economic analysis where they believe the payback in energy cost savings on the additional capital needed to procure such energy efficient units will range from 2.2 to 6.6 years. Given the average lifetime of such equipment of 18.4 years, the building owner would realize a strong economic benefit. The DOE also estimates that the standards would reduce electricity use by about 1.3 trillion kWh.

CCES can perform an assessment of your building for the efficiency of your heating and air conditioning systems to determine if it makes economic and comfort sense to switch now to a new, more efficient unit. We can also help you improve your current system’s efficiency by evaluating your building for air leaks, poor insulation, etc. Contact us today at or at 914-584-6720.

Reducing Your Peak Demand for Electricity – Critical to Control Costs

Your operations – whether you manage one or several office buildings or industrial facilities – depend on electricity. You don’t have electricity, your company does not function. It’s as simple as that. Whether at home or at work, we are used to paying for electricity by how much we use (kilowatt-hours, kWh). Makes sense; you use it, you pay for it. But a new financial paradigm is impacting electricity cost and that is peak demand. On a hot summer day (and climate change will result in more such hot summer days), there is growing demand for electricity (in kW) as more buildings are being operated, with more space being air conditioned, plus more lights, laptops, and other electricity-using devices. Utilities know that reliability – getting electricity delivered in full – is expected. To reliably get electricity to all customers at all times utilities must grow their infrastructure, costing hundreds of millions of dollars or more annually – an expense that is difficult to recover. Also, with a number of coal-fired power plants being shut down at least in part because of stricter environmental and potential future greenhouse gas rules and nuclear plants shutting down because of age (and the high cost to build new plants), new electricity generation to meet peak demand may not be assured.

Therefore, there is a growing realization by utilities that it must get its customers to reduce peak demand, that period of just a few hours on a hot summer afternoon when demand is greatest. More utilities around the nation are encouraging customers to reduce peak demand to ensure complete electricity delivery and reduce the risk of a blackout, and are offering customers incentives to achieve real reductions.

In many parts of the US, facilities pay both usage and peak demand charges. The peak demand is based on the single 15- or 30-minute period during the month when you use the most electricity. It may be an outlier of your typical usage, but you are charged for it. Your goal is not only to reduce total usage, but also “shed” load during peak periods.

Many facilities are wisely looking into renewable energy to reduce electricity costs. This is terrific. If you can generate your own electricity and use less from the grid, you will save money. This is true, but only on the usage side. What if there is a single 15-minute period during a month when it is hot, your building is fully using all its laptops, AC, and lights, but it is cloudy (a thunderstorm coming) and your solar panels are not producing any electricity. Despite your solar investment, your demand from the grid for that short period will still be high and you would have to be pay the full high demand charge. Therefore, should you be considering the installation of solar PV or wind turbines, make sure to consider the existing demand charge as something that may not be reduced. Perhaps you can negotiate with your utility to reduce or eliminate your demand charge.

What can be done to reliably reduce your peak demand to reduce this charge?

1. Fully Understand Your Demand Charge. How much are you being charged for peak demand? What percentage of your electric bill is this? Is your demand charge based on your highest 15-minute period of demand during the entire billing cycle or is it for the peak period during the utility’s peak period of concern (often 2 pm to 6 pm)? The latter is called “coincident” demand, coinciding with the utility’s peak period to provide electricity. This is an important distinction and will influence your strategy to save costs.

2. Fully Understand Your Usage Throughout the Day. Make a reasonable estimate of your electricity usage throughout the day. Monitors can be purchased or leased to provide better accuracy. When might your peak demand occur? Software exists to track your usage and demand and may be worth purchasing and using. Such information can also help form an automated demand response program to determine best strategies.

3. Sensible “Behavioral” Changes To Reduce Peak Demand. Is it feasible to move certain operations to another time of the day – to an otherwise non-peak period? Might some workers be willing to work a non-traditional shift? Are there low-cost strategies to reduce your peak demand, such as shades on windows that get afternoon sun?

4. Feasibility of More Sophisticated Technologies. Given your demand charge and the growing number of incentive programs to decrease peak demand, it may be cost-effective to install and operate relatively sophisticated controls. One example is an expansion of what you may already have: using your backup generators to produce electricity during peak periods only. Yes, you will have to pay for gas or oil usage. But reducing that peak demand charge may make it worth it. Of course, you need to check and potentially modify your air permit to ensure that your backup generator can be used in such a non-emergency situation. But this can avoid grid electricity use and perhaps you can make a formal arrangement with your utility to sell it the excess electricity you produce for a profit. Another example is to automatically shift certain electricity-drawing operations to a short time before a peak period is coming up. To reduce electricity usage for air conditioning on those brutally hot days, systems exist to manufacture ice during the overnight hours and blowing air across the ice for cool air for the building. Electricity is used, but mainly at night (when the ice is being made), far from a peak period; little is used during the day. Also, look into batteries. Can excess power drawn at non-peak times be stored and used during the peak? Again, the economics of incentives and a reduced demand charge may justify such strategies.

Utilities around the country are either beginning to introduce or revving up peak demand charges in response to the pressure they are under to reliably deliver power during these periods. Reducing your peak demand will not only save you cost, but also provide you with greater flexibility and reliability. For most, it is worth investing resources for.

CCES has the experts to review and advise you on your energy costs and system, to help you gain the maximum financial benefits of both reduced usage and reduced peak electricity demand. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Bright Long-Term Outlook for Solar Energy

Solar energy as an option is no longer “pie in the sky” or “experimental”, but is now undeniably mainstream. CitiGroup has joined UBS, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Barclays, and others in publishing predictions of a positive, long-term outlook for solar energy. According to the recent CitiGroup report here, solar will see continued growth in energy generation market share and will become more competitive with fossil fuels due to favorable economics, fuel diversification by utilities, and new financing structures.

The reports recognize the favorable economics of power developed by solar and predict that these factors will remain improve in the future. Solar manufacturing costs have declined significantly and energy efficiencies have improved. The reports recognize that solar is competitive in lower costs per energy unit. As the US economy recovers from the Great Recession and manufacturing makes a comeback, it will be recognized that most major new buildings and renovations should at least consider solar. Solar is also growing worldwide, in both industrialized and emerging nations. Even new construction in oil-rich Middle East includes solar PV in many instances. Finally, solar will benefit by the growing trend of distributed power or microgrids. Entities, such as corporate parks, industrial facilities, and neighborhoods can develop their own source of electricity, independent of the centralized grid, to continue to function in case of climate change effects or catastrophe. On-site solar PV can be part of many distributed energy plans.

Many states have rules mandating their utilities generate a certain percentage of their power from renewable sources. Many utilities also realize that this is good business practice to “spread the bet” among many sources of energy. The recent increases in cost of coal and its heavy regulation is certainly an example of a fuel that went from being among the cheapest to among the most difficult and expensive in a short period. There is even concern about how long natural gas will stay relatively inexpensive.
In the last decade of increased installation of solar PV, many government and financial institutions have implemented financing incentives for solar “farms” down to one-family homes. Capital is available to address start-up costs for production and installation.

The CitiGroup report believes that solar energy would conservatively represent 11.2% of all newly-installed generation in the US in the next few years, making it a permanent part of our energy options. This represents a trillion dollar investment and opportunity to grow. Solar and other renewable options are now mainstream and should at least be seriously considered in all new constructions and energy upgrades.

CCES has the experts to assist you in evaluating the sources of energy of existing or planned changes in your buildings and facilities. We can evaluate available financial incentives and estimate relative energy cost savings of a number of options, from updated technology to renewables and distributed power (microgrids). Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

More Energy Efficiency Tips for You to Use

by Jordan Jacobs, Industry Insights

Last month some simple, effective energy efficiency tips were posted for readers to use to save energy costs not only at their businesses, but at home, too. Jordan Jacobs of has some additional ones to share with you. Representing a technology company offering public and private cloud hosting services, Jordan wanted to focus on some of the ways that everyday technology consumption like email, social media, and data storage affects your and your company’s energy usage.

Electronic communications aren’t exactly carbon free. According to Mike Berners-Lee — professional carbon-emissions consultant and brother of the guy who invented the World Wide Web — every time you send an email into the ether(net), you’re using up 4 grams of carbon.[see footnote] And that’s if you don’t add any attachments.

OK, 4 grams doesn’t sound like much, and in the grand scheme of things, it really isn’t. But think about how many emails you send today, then multiply that by 365. That’s a lot. Basically, each year the average person emails emit an amount of carbon equal to the exhaust of a 200-mile car ride. All the emails sent scurrying around the Internet in a single day generate more than 44,000 tons of carbon per day! Now, this is not to say that email is a bad thing: it’s certainly better than sending all of those messages on paper in paper envelopes using sticky paper stamps. But there are a lot of ways to cut down on carbon by checking the number of emails that go whizzing by.

Stop replying to all. “Reply to all” works by sending duplicate emails to all the people listed in To: box. You are really sending separate emails to individuals, multiplying your carbon footprint at the same time. Before replying to all, take a quick moment to see if everybody on the list really needs to get your message. You’ll also avoid aggravating all those people who might otherwise ask, “Why the heck did you send me that?”

Don’t spam. Nobody likes to think they’re a spammer, but it happens. Even reputable companies with great products tend to carpet-bomb people’s inboxes with marketing messages that go mostly unread, in the hopes of finding just one new customer. Just because you can send an email to everyone doesn’t mean you should. Tailoring your audience help you increase conversion rates while cutting back on carbon.

Unsubscribe. On the flip side, if you’re receiving emails that you don’t have time to read, take a minute to remove yourself from the mailing list. It’ll help keep your inbox clean, and you can feel even better knowing you’re helping to trim your carbon footprint.

Start a conversation. We’ve all done it; emailed that person who is sitting close enough that you could literally talk to them without even raising your voice. Instead of sending that email, have a little chat. Even if they’re down the hall, get up and go talk to them. You’ll use less carbon by talking than you would by sending that email.

Less social media, more social awareness. Speaking of conversations, maybe email is not your thing. Keeping messages short and sweet — say 140 characters, a quick pic or a sentence-long status update — can’t really take up much carbon, right? Actually, that is right. The carbon footprint of a tweet is estimated to be 0.02 grams [see footnote] Facebook reported that the average user consumes about 311 grams (0.7 lb) per year.

Still, those calculations only take into account what’s happening on the company’s end. If you’re using your laptop, tablet, or smartphone to explore social media sites, chances are you’re also browsing a bit, seeing what your friends are up to, making comments, playing a game or two. That sort of thing. Let’s face it, most of that stuff is probably a waste of time — and a waste of carbon. There’s nothing wrong with using social media, but cutting back isn’t a bad thing either. While reducing social media usage isn’t going to stop global warming on its own, every little bit help. Here are a few thoughts:

Cloud your data. With the rise of cloud computing, you can reduce your personal carbon footprint by relying on the economies of scale that cloud storage provides.

While data centers do use a lot of energy, our company has managed to reduce our own carbon footprint is by installing LED lights, taking advantage of cool-weather conditions, and making strides in server virtualization, which helps us run our processors at peak efficiency. It’s worth asking yourself whether you’re wasting energy, space, and money by keeping your servers on site.

Climate change won’t be solved by any single person, company, or even government. It’s going to take a lot of people all over the world working together to understand how their everyday activities affect the environment. We at SingleHop believe that most people are not merely mindless consumers of technology, but want to use technology to make connections with others so they can live richer, more fulfilling lives. In the end, it’s about awareness. Hopefully this post has helped you learn more about a few of the ways you can make small strides in reducing carbon consumption through technology.

Berners-Lee, Mike. “An email.” How Bad Are Bananas? Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2011. EPUB file.
Bellona, David and Tash Wong. Tweet Farts. Accessed Aug. 7, 2014.
“Carbon & Energy Impact.” Facebook. n.d. Web. Aug. 7, 2014.
Wilson, Jacques. “Your smartphone is a pain in the neck.” Sept. 20, 2012. Web. Aug. 7, 2014.
Wortham, Jenna. “Feel Like a Wallflower? Maybe It’s Your Facebook Wall.” The New York Times. April 9, 2011. Web. Aug. 7, 2014.


U.S. Is Low in International Energy Efficiency Rankings

A recent ranking by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy places the US 13th out of the 16 largest world economies in energy efficiency. ( Germany was 1st, followed by Italy. Even developing countries like China and India, where power failures are common, ranked higher than the US. Only Russia, Brazil and Mexico were worse.

Why did the US rank so low despite our high level of education and entrepreneurship? The US is one of only two nations on the list with no national energy or GHG emission reduction plan and is very dependent on centralized sources of electricity and heat, and thus the high inefficiencies in power transmission. US industry uses comparatively little combined heat & power (CHP). Finally, the US transportation sector is poor because of our overall poor fuel economy and relatively high miles traveled per vehicle per year. Per capita, US mass transit serves fewer people than in most other nations considered.

This has many financial implications. The US is losing a lot of economic opportunities. While American business is quick to lay workers off to improve labor efficiency of performing tasks, there is not the same attitude to reducing energy to improve economics. Not only does this represent a great opportunity for direct cost savings (money in the bottom line rather than an energy supplier’s pockets), but it saves on natural resources, provides greater operational flexibility, and lowers transit costs.

What can be done to make the US more energy efficient as a nation? The biggest issue may be that US energy efficiency efforts are inconsistent. Different states and even cities and counties have innovative programs to improve energy efficiency, such as new building codes and financial incentives to become more efficient, while many states and even areas within states have no such rules or programs; large contrasts exist. There needs to be national energy efficiency standards and incentives. Ironically, one of the few national programs, EPAct (IRS Code No. 179D) expired Dec. 31, 2013, and while both parties say they wish to extend it and even strengthen it, it has not happened yet.

Absent of a new national energy policy (which is unlikely based on the recent actions of Congress) some improvements may be gained through future GHG regulations. A very effective way of reducing GHG emissions is energy efficiency – using less GHG-emitting fossil fuels for work that needs to be done. Implementation of new rules can improve energy efficiency. In addition, greater spending for mass transit systems should reduce the number of cars on the road, improving efficiency and reducing traffic, too.

CCES has the experts to help your entity become more energy efficient, evaluating your production processes, your general use of energy (buildings), and for your fleet of vehicles. We have documented success in saving significant costs for many entities. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at