Monthly Archives: April 2016

Look Into Right-sizing To Reduce Energy Usage

No one wants to be responsible for building a system that is under-sized. But when equipment is oversized, energy efficiency drops, reducing its cost-effectiveness.

This is commonly seen with pumps. Everybody wants the pumps to feed the maximum rate of air or a substance to the process. But what if a control, such as a valve, is placed to reduce flow to the optimal rate and that valve is partially closed nearly all the time? The pump was over-designed. It is operating at a continual high rate and then additional equipment, using energy, damps down the rate. This is like always stepping hard on your car accelerator and then quickly pumping the brakes.

Not only does this cost your facility needless energy usage and demand, but the inefficiency often leads to overheating and increased wear and tear, reducing the life of your equipment (raising long-term capital costs) and increasing O&M costs, too.

This is especially a problem in older systems, which are often over-designed as a cultural matter. The design engineer would recommend a pump with a capacity 20% greater than needed (“just in case” things change); the vendor would recommend a specific pump that was 20% greater than that for the same reason. This was tolerated as the cost of such over-conservatism – energy – were quite low back then.

The solution for many pumps and fans is to determine the proper size based on the worst-case usage and to utilize a variable frequency drive (VFD). A right-sized pump for worst situations plus VFD to adjust the usage for need can reduce energy usage for a given pump or fan by 50% or more and reduce wear and tear. In addition, many utilities and state incentive programs will pay you part of the cost of its purchase.

For pumps alone, they may account for up to 60% of total electrical energy usage in an industrial facility. 58% of a pump’s life cycle cost is energy. Therefore, by optimizing a pump system, annual energy consumption can be reduced by 30-50%. And this does not include increased O&M costs caused by wear and tear.

This mathematics is also true for other systems, such as HVAC fans, common in many more facilities.

CCES has the technical experts to help you evaluate your pump and fan systems and help right-size your systems to save you much in energy and O&M costs. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

The Key Is Not Less Lighting, But Right Lighting

Energy conservation is on more and more people’s minds – particularly building owners and managers and corporate officers. Energy is a growing cost for any business and with recent discoveries in technology that saves energy use, more and more businesses are turning to energy savings to gain many diverse economic benefits.

Among the best ways to save energy is through lighting upgrades. Changing to more energy efficient lights is one of the best “low hanging fruits” for energy savings. But, it is critical that you do not just run to the hardware store and buy new lights labeled “energy efficient”. Changing to the wrong lights may save you some energy costs now, but actually cost your company much more money when it comes to worker productivity.

Work and, Therefore, Lighting Needs Have Changed

For example, in commercial spaces, the way that offices are operated has changed in recent years. Most offices used to be a collection of private rooms for each employee, based upon size (larger ones for senior management), with little common space and hallways. Now, more and more offices are “open” with one or a few large rooms for many employees. Fewer lights are needed because there are fewer walls and separations. Put another way, lighting for one person in one office can now adequately provide proper lighting for several people’s work spaces.

The nature of work has changed, too. Office work used to be based on reading or writing on paper. But now much more work is done on personal computers, tablets, and other devices. Less artificial light is needed because these devices give off light.

Too Much Lighting Is Not Good Either

Therefore, you do not need to provide your employees with as much light as you used to. De-lamping, the strategic removal of light fixtures, effectively reduces wattage and energy costs. If done right, it will not adversely affect, but will improve worker productivity. Excess light, studies show, is actually not a good thing, potentially causing headaches, fatigue, stress, and even disrupting circadian rhythms.

The Illumination Engineering Society (IES) used to recommend a lighting level of 750 to 1,000 lux (lumens per square meter) in offices. However, IES now recommends a lighting level for open offices of about half of this: 300 to 500 lux. While a manager may be tempted to keep lighting levels as they are “to be sure” that everyone has sufficient light, this may not be a good idea for the reasons mentioned above.

Another matter to consider is the use of natural light. While allowing sunlight to enter an office as a replacement for artificial lights (whether by switching off lights or with a daylight control) is an effective energy saver, it can cause glare and solar heat gain, affecting worker productivity and adding to your air conditioner’s load and raising energy costs that way. Installing “low-e” film on the windows that allow sunlight will reduce glare and solar heat gain, providing the office the natural light with less of the downside.

Reducing lighting is a positive way to reduce energy costs and be more sustainable. However, your company will benefit more by doing this coupled with the right lighting.

CCES has the experts to help your company evaluate your current lighting and determine whether there are opportunities to not only replace your current lights with more energy efficient ones, but to also install the “right” lighting to improve productivity. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Our Crumbling Infrastructure and Climate Change

After several harsh winters, several major railroad disasters, and a greater frequency of severe storms, more and more people realize that we have ignored our infrastructure for way too long. Perhaps the tragedy with drinking water infrastructure in Flint, MI put us over the edge. While the focus there has been on who knew what when, this would not have been an issue if the Michigan government had not kept cutting their appropriations for all infrastructure. Even the Michigan Legislature began to support tax increases to support road and bridge repairs two years ago and even Chambers of Commerce, who have been major proponents of tax reductions and smaller government, now realize that potholes, sinkholes, improper water and energy delivery, and bridge failures are not good for the businesses they represent. The Federal government is discussing increasing appropriations for infrastructure upgrades, as well.

Let’s hope that any surge in infrastructure upgrade projects takes potential future effects of Climate Change into account. What is the use of re-paving a road, re-piping water mains, etc., if flooding due to sea level rise and strong storms may wipe out upgraded infrastructure? Therefore, the key concept is resiliency, how the structure will stand up to more rain, snow, longer periods of weather extremes, etc. Some key concepts:

o design, construct roadways, bridges, facilities, railroads, and piping to withstand weather extremes beyond the current norm and to require less maintenance, using materials which will perform more consistently in weather extremes.

o new designs of water runoff including permeable pavement and robust drain and river banks and ditches to handle large quantities of stormwater and less erosion.

o more, not less, roadside vegetation to ensure water uptake during severe storms, plus drought and erosion resiliency.

o larger capacity pumps/pump stations to prevent flooding in key areas.

o better sewer and cleaner water lines to adapt to greater and more frequent freeze-thaw, deeper frosts and drought and flood conditions.

A 2014 US GAO study, “Climate Change Energy Infrastructure Risks and Adaptation Efforts” reviewed likely impacts of climate change on US energy infrastructure, such as

o increased demands for electricity (cooling, pumps, etc.).

o physical risk of damage to the grid.

o risk of power plants’ reliability due to water shortages.

There appears to be momentum for politicians to approve more infrastructure upgrade projects, as the growing incidents are embarrassing politicians. Let’s hope that the engineering community gets more involved with design of projects and takes potential climate change impacts into consideration for long-term benefits, such as LEED.

CCES can help your firm assess its climate change risk, both physical and financial, from extreme storms, sea level rise, flooding, etc. We can help you design and manage solutions to improve your resiliency and benefit your bottom line. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at

Energy Conservation: A Great Financial Investment

Don’t think of energy reduction as a burden, but as a great financial investment. A robust program will effectively help your bottom line by reducing operating costs.
What is the other way to increase profits? Increase revenue. Fine, but how easy is that to achieve? Let’s say a building saves $100,000/year in operating costs through energy savings (not hard to imagine: less than $10,000/month). If your average “widget” results in a 10% profit, then you’ll have to increase sales by $1,000,000/year to get the same increase in profits as reducing energy. That means investing in more advertising, sales people, etc., and then there is no guarantee that you’ll reach that $1,000,000 annual increase in sales. It is more likely you will meet an energy savings goal than a sales goal. More important, even if you succeed in increasing sales accordingly, the next year you have to do it all over again. Keep the advertisements, salespeople, etc. going. How easy is that? But the energy conservation measures automatically keep saving you energy costs. In fact, savings will increase in future years as the unit cost of energy will only rise (will your utility keep the cost per kWh, per therm, etc. the same?). So the savings likely will be $103,000 in year 2, $107,000 in year 3, etc. for some time. But each future year, you have to invest and hope to get that million-dollar increase in sales.
Yes, think of energy savings as an investment to get the best return with your business’ hard-earned money. The basics of any financial investment is to get the highest return for the lowest risk. Energy efficiency achieves this as rates of return on many projects are conservatively in the teens percent per year, and often 25%, 30% or more per year. What bank or Wall St. investment pays this, with no risk (a light bulb is lower wattage, you will save; equipment is designed to use a certain amount of energy, etc.)?
Why is energy management such a good investment?
• Rate of return exceeds most financial investments (often >25%/year), with low risk. Technologies are well understood and perform well in “real life” conditions.
• Energy costs are a growing segment. Reducing these directly increases Net Operating Income for any business.
• These technologies last longer, meaning you need to have fewer in reserve, liberating space. Reliability is improved and maintenance costs are lower, freeing up O&M staff for other projects.
• Prices for these technologies are coming down as more get into the business. Plus, utilities and governments give incentives to pay part of the cost. But don’t wait for prices to come down further. Future capital cost savings will likely be lower than the lost opportunity to save energy costs in your buildings.
• The financial community knows energy efficiency projects have a high rate of return and are reliable. So they will compete to loan you upfront money for these projects. Financing can be arranged to produce a positive cash flow at all times.
Again, think of energy savings – if done right – as an opportunity to get a great financial return with little risk. CCES has the experts to help your company maximize the benefits of energy upgrades. We handle it all from assessment to planning to execution to benefit you the most. Contact us today at 914-584-6720 or at