PA CHAMBER BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY - Catalyst Magazine, Spring 2015
Business Magic – Pennsylvania Dutch speaks French Canadian
by: Carl Godlove
There are times in business when magic just “happens,” and I love it when it does. In this case, the magic is swirling in a cauldron of blossoming friendships and professional relationships between our Pennsylvania company, SSM Group, Inc. (ssmgroup.com), and Ecosystem Energy Services (ecosystem-energy.com), a Canadian-based company headquartered in Quebec City with a U.S. presence in Manhattan, NYC. We met at a large common client last year, and the synergies between us came together almost immediately. Better yet, the direct beneficiaries of this partnership are businesses and institutions across Pennsylvania.
Our focus? Serious energy savings. And by serious, I mean 30% continuous savings on utility bills for businesses and other facility owners spending $1,000,000 or more annually on energy consumption.
The SSM/Ecosystem partnership is a classic example of the whole being many times its parts. Our combined expertise and decades of experience in Building Engineering and Deep Energy Retrofits comes together powerfully. The cumulative energy savings resulting from Ecosystem’s 20-year project history is climbing toward $200,000,000 this year, with the added benefit of a reduction of nearly 350,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Our partnership is timely. Pennsylvania’s Act 129 requires the four largest electric utilities in the state to reduce their customers’ electric consumption by offering programs and rebates to every customer class. These programs are paid for by all electric users through a line item charge on every monthly bill, whether a customer engages in these programs or not. There are rebates for lighting, appliances, HVAC systems, energy audits, and even self-generation. The primary focus is the reduction in the use of electricity. Several of the Act 129 programs, however, can be used to achieve even greater cost savings through non-electric heating fuel reductions, an approach that goes to the core of our expertise.
As Pennsylvania’s utilities prepare a third round of financing energy reductions under Act 129, the real question for institutions and businesses is not “if” but “how” to implement. The answer can begin with a simple analysis of energy bills or a full-scale facility audit, for which the local utility will likely pay half the cost. Knowing that many facility managers and owners cannot take the time or spend the money for an audit, we take a different approach to quickly get to the very highest value savings – “Energy Use Intensity,” or “EUI,” to benchmark your site against others in your industry. And we do it at no cost. A “Go” decision at this point means that your savings are both guaranteed and sufficient to fund the required capital projects. And while the standard metric for industrial facilities measures energy used per quantity of finished product, rather than square feet of manufacturing space, the business approach remains the same: We prove the savings first.
EnergyStar describes EUI as, “the energy a building uses per square foot each year, with a lower number signifying better efficiency and less total energy used.” Being able to measure what your facilities consume against others in the same industry represents an opportunity to keep costs in line and maintain an even competitive playing field. Peter Hansen, Manager of Office Space Facilities at SEPTA’s headquarters notes, “The energy-efficiency improvements made to 1234 Market Street have certainly helped lower the building’s operating costs. This has been a primary draw for many of our tenants.
To judge how much can be saved, we begin by calculating a site’s EUI to clarify the opportunity and solicit funding. When a hospital’s management team in New York discovered their building’s EUI was 138% the national average, they got motivated to make changes, securing $4,100,000 for an efficiency project. After implementation, their energy bills dropped by over $600,000, representing 39% in savings. Ecosystem CEO, André Rochette, notes the importance of aligning goals from the start: “Our ability to improve building performance stems from a corporate culture of collaboration and commitment to results and agile processes that let us design and build with the end result in mind. We believe we should always be held contractually responsible to our customers for those outcomes.”
SSM and Ecosystem are partners on a mission - “Enhance the Quality of Life” across Pennsylvania. Our self-funding projects not only lower operating costs and preserve capital for hospitals, schools and universities, residential and commercial complexes, manufacturers, and office and government buildings, they also create jobs and improve the environment. Our turnkey solution covers the full project lifecycle, from analysis and design through construction, commissioning, and continuous follow-up. Our partnership is not just a business... it’s a passion. Pennsylvania Dutch is officially speaking French Canadian. Let the magic begin.