Nickels in the Couch and Other Undiscovered Savings

Nickels in the Couch and Other Undiscovered Savings

Sofa change, couch money, whatever you call it, it’s not very sexy.  Actually, rooting around between the couch cushions can be downright gnarly (depending on the couch owner, of course).  While television advertisers lead us to believe that the ideal use for this “found money” is purchasing inexpensive fast food to satisfy late night cravings, there are greater purposes that these resources could be used to satisfy instead.

In the world of sustainability and profitability, it’s these “nickels in the couch” that can really make a crucial difference. Many facilities undertake significant energy efficiency projects, and do all that’s humanly possible to make their buildings profitable. Oftentimes, the savings from the initial energy projects are substantial. But over time, as proven by various research institutions, savings leak and efficiency performance drifts. The more time that passes, the greater the cumulative sum of that drift, until all of the project’s intended savings has disappeared – leaving the project team to start all over again a few years later.

One approach to solving this dilemma has been something called “continuous commissioning” (a term coined by Texas A&M University). Software is installed in buildings to create a running to-do list for the facilities operations team, and engineers or operators are tasked with “watching over” the building in order to keep it from losing efficiency over time. Of course, since the facilities team’s primary charter is running the building while maintaining occupant comfort and space requirements, the energy management to-do list doesn’t typically take priority, and the building’s energy performance drifts further and further away. Simply put, running the building gets in the way of sustaining efficiency. Historically, one always trumps the other eventually.

In order to protect and safeguard efficiency efforts that have been implemented, a new approach must be adopted; one that goes beyond what’s humanly possible. An approach that not only ensures all of the efficiencies already in place keep saving, but one that finds net new areas to save – or “nickels” you might call them – that would otherwise be impossible to execute manually.

It All Adds Up: Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Every Year in Energy Savings

SHIFT Energy calls this an “automated savings approach”: allowing software to continuously scour the controlled building environment (HVAC, central plant, lighting, etc.) every minute of every day, supporting the facilities team so they can run the building efficiently and maintain controlled space requirements. Once a building is running efficiently, any minor optimization that can be made in real time (based on weather, occupancy, activity, or other dynamic change) is an opportunity for nickels to be found between the cushions. And since this “nickel recon” effort is automated 24/7/365, this is where the power of many becomes very profitable for a facility  ̶  literally finding hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. Because the approach is automated, the savings persist in perpetuity, so you can (literally) bank on the savings being there year after year for use in other areas of the organization, or simply added to the bottom line as net operating margin.

SHIFT Energy’s solution allows facilities to create and sustain savings, finding that “couch change” and delivering added profitability into the future. It’s time to stop watching efficiency drift, stop digging for those nickels, and let technology do all the dirty work instead.