Thankful Thoughts

As we move into the holiday season, it’s a wonderful time to reflect on the things that we are thankful for and the relationships that bring us joy and to acknowledge those who we rely on to help us be the best we can be. As I think about Ecova, and the hundreds of clients that we have the privilege of serving, it’s a good reminder that we have much to celebrate as we close out 2014 and much to look forward to in the coming year. Through Ecova’s vision, we are committed to driving business results on behalf of our clients and to helping our clients manage expenses better while keeping the environment in mind. When we think about sustainability, we envision making continued improvements for ourselves and our clients, so together we can positively impact our businesses and be good stewards...

Inspirational advice on the future of business & sustainability

I recently attended the 2014 Net Impact conference in Minneapolis. The focus was on breaking boundaries in the business world by using triple bottom line thinking of people, planet and profit. The keynote set the stage well for “breaking boundaries,” with Liz Maw (CEO of Net Impact), Paul Polman (CEO of Unilever), and Betsy Hodges (Mayor of Minneapolis) delivering thought-provoking and inspirational advice on the future of business and sustainability. Each speaker stressed the importance of being open to failure―as a fear of failure stifles innovation. To this end, Paul Polman highlighted Unilever’s decision to move away from quarterly reporting and integrate environmental and social accounting into its standard profit and loss statements. This is a bold and innovative move to shift the...

Using Real-Time Energy Monitoring in Office Buildings to Catch “Operational Stray”

A study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) identified an average reduction of 13.2 percent in electricity use when using real-time electricity data to improve operational efficiency in three large, multi-tenant office buildings. The project was highly profitable, with savings of $220,000 in the first year alone. Using real-time data to determine when building systems “stray” from optimum settings is an effective, low-cost way of reducing energy waste in commercial buildings. Even with properly maintained facilities, necessary equipment and controls changes will occur and mechanical problems may require temporary modifications that are later forgotten. For example, when thermostats are adjusted for an evening meeting and not reset to daytime schedules, a chiller could be...

Researching Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings


Back in the 1880s, power distribution technology was a hotly contested topic. The “War of the Currents” featured Thomas Edison (advocating direct current or DC) and Nicolai Tesla/George Westinghouse (advocating alternating current or AC). The public debate became personal and nasty. Edison’s employees resorted to demonstrating electrocution to instill fear about AC power. Here at Ecova we have no intention of re-opening that debate for the utility-scale power grid. But a century has passed―maybe it’s time to look at the implications of the AC distribution standard on our energy usage. We promise not to be sensational. Commercial office buildings consume more than 30 percent of all electricity used in the United States. A team from Ecova joined with partners and our client Pacific Gas...

The Future of LEDs Is Brighter than Ever

Last month, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that an American and two Japanese scientists won the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics for inventing the blue LED, a critical technology that ultimately paved the way to create today’s white LED bulbs for vehicle headlights, hand held flashlights, general street lights, and the new-to-market LED general service bulbs like the kind we promote for many of our utility partners. My academic degree is in physics, so hearing the news of this award was particularly exciting given the technology’s energy savings results for our clients. Red and green LEDs have been around for decades, found in products such as indicators, illuminated exit signs, holiday lights, and traffic lights. But the blue LED emitter source developed by Isamu...