Monthly Archives: April 2015

Communicating Your Green Achievements

A growing number of companies and municipalities are producing reports highlighting their sustainability achievements of the previous year. If your business or municipality is not currently creating such a report to highlight your green achievements (whether done to impress those interested in green achievements or not) is missing an opportunity to communicate a positive story in an open way to critical stakeholders who are craving reading such positive news. A Sustainability Report is an essential piece of any communication effort, but is often overlooked in working on the program, as many focus only on making the goals. But a success not communicated reduces its impact.

Reporting efforts do not have to be a major undertaking. To get started first determine who your audience is. Which stakeholders are most likely to read the report and what facts or style are they looking for? Sustainability will impact different parts of your entity, but by focusing on who follows such news the most, you can keep it short and simple while establishing the credentials to satisfy your most important stakeholders.

With this information, identify the focus of your report and the message you want to get across to the key stakeholders who care deeply about sustainability. What information do you want to give to the readers and how do you want to get it across to them? Should it be short and factual in nature? Or by a narrative as if you are telling a story?

Whether your report is factual with bullets or with more text, at one point your report will communicate facts and data about your sustainability program or projects. Therefore, it is critical that it state data and it needs to be right. What metrics are you using to demonstrate progress? Is it the same commonly used by other organizations? Double check that, for example, the reductions in energy or water usage that were calculated are correct and beyond reproach. Data will likely be checked by stakeholders or perhaps those who may be critical of your effort. If the data is off or not the whole truth in summarizing the project, your entity may be criticized and worse off.

As you can tell, this is a complex effort and should not be undertaken by a single, even smart, well-meaning person. Because you are looking at message, data, and people, a team effort is the best approach to prepare your sustainability report. The draft report should also be reviewed by those outside the preparation process before issuance.

Once the report is released (as a webpage in your company’s website or a pdf), make the effort to promote it through the entity’s website, social media, annual reports, and marketing materials. Attempt to get feedback through the Internet from the stakeholders you had focused on to determine whether they read the message you wished to get across. Did significant numbers of people in other groups who were not your focus also read the report? If so, were they satisfied with the progress? Use this as a learning experience to improve the process and message put out in future reporting.

CCES has the technical personnel to prepare a successful sustainability or “green” program with concrete successes and can help you communicate your successes to your key stakeholders in a clear manner. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Are You Suffering From EEPA (Energy Efficiency Performance Anxiety)?

By Sandy Gutner, P.E., President, ROI Energy Services

EEPA, or Energy Efficiency Paralysis by Analysis, needlessly affects millions throughout the US, and the world. Some call it Energy Efficiency Performance Anxiety. EEPA is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just a number. And it can be easily fixed.

You know energy efficiency is a universally accepted “win-win”. You know it will boost your bottom line make your organization more competitive. You even know it will improve your sustainability profile. If this describes you, you’re probably suffering from EEPA.

What are the Causes of EEPA?

OK, I’ll admit it. I made up the term EEPA, but the reality is most businesses are missing opportunities to improve their bottom line. How do you know if you have it?

• You feel confused and overwhelmed with information
• You don’t know whom you should trust.
• You’ve gotten many new insights about your energy use, now you think there is so much more to explore, and maybe you’d better do some more research.
• You feel like you need even more information before making a decision but in your heart you know that more information might make your EEPA worse.

If any of these indicators or similar excuses is stopping you from cutting electricity costs, you probably have EEPA.

How did you get to this point? You’ve been thinking about energy conservation, but…..
• “You’ve done an energy audit, and one of your contractors/suppliers/advisers/vendors (circle one) has other suggestions”;
• “Your engineering or technical staff wants to study it further”;
• “You’ve heard renewables are looking more attractive”;
• “Someone in your golf foursome, poker game, advisory committee (circle one), mentions that technology is advancing so quickly that it would be better to wait a couple of years”.

Most likely, you do not even realize you have EEPA.

How Is EEPA Affecting You?

Simply stated, if you have EEPA you’re giving the cash that could be used to streamline your operation and giving it to your electric utility. Unlike other capital investments, the cost for energy efficiency solutions are already covered by the savings gained. When these costs are financed the savings exceed the finance costs yielding a positive cash flow. You can see an example of this right here. On the flip side, delaying energy efficiency is actually costing you money. The Cash Flow Opportunity Calculator, developed by Energy Star can help you determine the actual and opportunity costs of waiting.

How Can You Treat EEPA?

The solution to EEPA is not more information, just better information from a trustworthy source, that addresses your specific and unique needs, and that provides clear actionable steps. The most important information for most management and executives is:
• “What is the payback”,
• “Will it affect my operations or workspace environment?”
• “What will I have to do?”
• “How do I know I will really see the savings?”

That is why ROI Energy Services takes the approach of managing the details and delivering a package that meets a guaranteed payback and ROI. We study your system, design a solution that is customized to your needs, meets your required ROI and payback period, and whose savings is guaranteed. Our approach delivers a specific, actionable recommendation with a firm not-to-exceed cost, and guaranteed ROI. We will worry about whether LEDs are cost effective, and where, or whether other methods are better. We will determine how to make your existing equipment more energy efficient without costly replacement.

Important Side Effects

Implementing energy efficiency may result in higher profitability, better equipment reliability, longer lasting equipment, improved sustainability, productivity improvement, and many other benefits. Please consult with ROI Energy Services to discuss how to achieve these results.

Sandy Gutner, P.E., is the President of ROI Energy Services, Weston, FL
Phone: 1-888-855-5471

ROI Energy Services is an engineering firm that offers energy saving solutions with a unique financial proposition for our commercial and industrial clients. Our financially viable turnkey solutions help reduce one of the most challenging operating expenses – energy consumption– and are paid for by the savings from reduced electricity costs.

Guaranteed Energy Savings Offers Unique Financial Proposition

ROI Energy offers a unique financial proposition to commercial and industrial energy consumers by creating energy savings solutions tailored specifically to meet their financial requirements. With a useful life many times greater than the payback period our clients reap long-lasting financial rewards. If the energy savings is less than our guarantee, we pay 100 percent of the shortfall –guaranteed

Renewable Energy, Water, Wastewater and More – 25 Years Engineering Consulting

The ROI Energy team has more than 25 years of experience providing engineering consulting services to public and private sector clients. We have represented owners’ interests in a wide variety of large-scale infrastructure projects including renewable energy, water, wastewater, and many others. The insight gained from this perspective has led us to our primary focus, which is adding value in everything we do.

Alternatives to Traditional Rooftop Solar Panels

Solar PV has come down in price markedly in the last few years. Adding incentives from a number of government agencies and utilities, solar PV has become a technology that pays back in a timeframe acceptable to most. However, many buildings cannot have traditional rooftop solar PV panels because of the age of the roof or because of shade from trees or other items. Now alternatives exist for buildings to still benefit from generating electricity from the sun, and get around these issues.

A North Carolina State University team demonstrated that water gel-based solar PV called “artificial leaves” can produce electricity. The analysis was published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry. These plant-like units are composed of water-based gel containing light-sensitive molecules (like plant chlorophyll) coupled with electrodes coated by carbon materials, such as carbon nanotubes or graphite, which can be activated by the sun’s rays to generate electricity, similar to plants synthesizing sugar. And therefore, these units can be stored in wooded areas or in bodies of water.

In many cases, owners of buildings with old roofs think that installing a new roof is the only way to support the weight of solar panels. One argument is that the cost savings of using solar PV can pay some or all of the costs of a roof upgrade. But for those that cannot use this logic, there are now solar PV built into roof shingles. So instead of laying a new roof and place panels on top of them, new roof shingles can be installed containing the silica and other elements to convert sunlight to electricity. Such units cannot be used on certain types of roof (i.e., slate).

If a roof is old or some sunlight is blocked, it may be possible to install solar PV at ground level in open areas. Of course, such available space is rare. However, several firms have developed solar PV panels that can be placed in outdoor parking areas to serve as shading panels on islands. These shields collect sunlight and produce electricity which is directed to the building from cables underneath the parking lot. But besides generating power, the panels create shade so cars are not too hot in the summer. Plus, the panels can direct snow to specific areas, reducing plowing needs.

Finally, entrepreneurs have developed ways for people and companies to benefit from solar-generated electricity or hot water without having it on their roofs or property. In recent years, the concept of “community solar gardens” has started up. CSG is the placement of a large number of solar panels in an open area (unused land in a corporate footprint or of a municipality). The electricity that is generated goes right into the grid for the benefit of all who live or work nearby. People and companies can buy shares in the community solar garden, composed of an initial payment representing a fraction of the total solar garden or a certain number of panels plus pay an annual upkeep fee. The investors would then be rewarded with savings on one’s electricity bill, even if that person lives far away, as well as a share of any awarded incentives. This concept may be ideal for a municipality with unusable land, perhaps an old, treated contaminated site with a population that cannot install solar PV (many multifamily units), but would be willing to invest and be part of the benefits and feel good investing in clean, green energy.

CCES has the experts to help you manage, see through, and maximize the benefits of renewable energy, including solar PV, whether through traditional installation of solar panels or alternatives, such as these discussed here. We can provide you with comprehensive technical advice on all energy issues to gain the greatest financial gains. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Energy Risk Expected To Rise in U.S.

There is a growing concern that large sections of the U.S. and other countries will be at greater risk of blackouts or periods of electricity shortages due to a number of factors. This can have grave consequences on the economic growth of many companies. Uneven electricity production and delivery is common in developing countries which have problems with both power plants plus the infrastructure to deliver reliable power to people and industry. Much has been written about countries in Africa, Asia, and South America which are investing in economic growth, but cannot achieve it because of unreliable power. As a result, there is either dangerous (explosions, fires) power supply or limited growth, as investors demand surety in utilities. But even North America and Europe are beginning to show increased risk of disruptions, too. These issues, called “fuel poverty”, have gotten the attention of major governments and power companies.

Increased risk of unreliable energy supply has been influenced by affordability, security, and sustainability issues. Many areas have seen a sharp increase in electricity demand in recent years and the capital cost to upgrade infrastructure to produce and deliver the additional power is very large. In some cases, necessary upgrades are not affordable without large rate increases or government assistance, two areas that politicians prefer to avoid. Many utilities recognize that offering incentives to be more energy efficient is cheaper than implementing full infrastructure upgrades, but will take longer and is a gamble of whether this will be sufficient to reduce the needed investments sufficiently. Thus, more people and business will be at risk of “fuel poverty” in the future.

This is also a long-term issue. While the recent recession tamped down energy demand, it is beginning to rebound. Several think tanks predict a worldwide doubling of energy demand between recent years and the 2030’s, something that cannot be met in terms of development and delivery without R&D and implementation of renewable energy, as fossil fuel availability is limiting, due to political and practical considerations.

What can your company do to reduce your risk of unreliable energy supply?

1. Preparation. Your company and facility should routinely develop an energy plan. How much and what types of energy does your company need to function? How much might it grow in the future? Where do you get your energy from? Are there other, more reliable sources? Looking forward, what energy sources may be more reliable for you in the future, such as renewable or certain sources plentiful near where your operations are? I was involved a few years ago with a confidential client that wanted to build new facilities in Asia, and I performed an evaluation of the energy sources around that region, and determined that wood is expected to be plentiful in the area, but fossil fuels not. Therefore, new boilers and cogen needed to be able to operate as well combusting wood as it does oil and gas, as wood should be plentiful in the next 20 years, but fossil fuels which has to be shipped in to region, may become more expensive in the future.

2. Invest in smart technology that will provide both information on energy use and paths to energy efficiency. Smart metering provides the opportunity for you obtain useful data on your energy usage and demand, which can provide you a truer picture of your costs, risks, and future. Knowledge of usage provides you with ideas to reduce your usage in the most cost-effective manner.

3. Renewables/clean energy is the long-term path to go. Depending on power from fossil fuels will be at risk in the future due to its finite nature, the more difficult it is to find and refine fossil fuels (raising its cost), and the political situation. Even in a positive scenario, fossil fuel costs will go up and down with conditions, and make planning harder. As renewable energy becomes more established and efficient, prices are coming down for installation, and the source of power is plentiful and free. Utilities in the US are being forced to generate more power from renewables; but they are realizing the advantages of these technologies.

CCES has the experts to help you establish short-term and long-term energy planning to increase your efficiency, reduce costs, and reduce risks of unreliable supply and delivery. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Investment in Clean Energy Grew Strongly in 2014

In this blog, I have talked a lot about energy efficiency and what a great investment it is. The relatively simple upgrades you can do for your existing systems in your buildings to improve the performance and get your money’s worth are a great investment in terms of cost savings and productivity.

But don’t just focus on energy efficiency. How about changing some of your systems altogether to clean energy? Clean energy has made great advancements in just the last few years, especially with prices coming down and becoming affordable. Worldwide investment in clean energy, such as solar and wind, rose 16% in 2014 alone, with investments totaling $310 billion, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. ( This is particularly impressive given the global sharp decline in oil prices making any potential switch from fossil fuels less attractive. Demand grew sharply for both large-scale and for rooftop solar PV and a record $19.4 billion of offshore wind projects. This investment is than five times the spending one decade ago.

The increase in investment in clean energy in 2014 was 26% in Canada and 8% in the U.S. The increase was led by investment in new large renewable energy projects (slightly over half of the total), such as solar fields and off-shore wind, followed by small distributed capacity projects (a little over 25%), such as rooftop solar. Government and corporation clean energy R&D totaled $29 billion, while energy smart technologies, such as smart meters, came in at $16.8 billion.

Investment in solar rose 25% compared to 2013; investment in wind rose 11%. This indicates that despite the worldwide drop in oil prices, investors realize that in the long run renewable power, particularly for electricity production, is the best investment of funds and likely to be the most stable in terms of cost for the long-term. This should be beneficial for you, too.

CCES can help your company assess the feasibility, advantages/disadvantages, and costs of different renewable energy technologies for your company and buildings. We can help you determine whether this is the time and how best to invest to make clean energy a good, long-term investment for you and maximize your benefits. We can manage the bidding and installation process and ensure and verify that the system meets your needs and goals. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at