Furniture Retailer Takes Comfort in a Data Driven Energy Management Strategy
What happens when the growth of your business takes place over the span of more than a century?
A furniture retailer, which began as a single furniture store over one hundred years ago and has since grown to over 100 showrooms, representing millions of square feet of floor space, faced this daunting prospect as they worked to gain control of their energy spend. With a mix of old and new retail storefronts, offices, and warehouse space, pinpointing exactly which buildings and/or aging
systems were wasting energy and other resources, and prioritizing improvement projects was a formidable task.
The retailer had little insight into their annual energy spend, and lacked a real understanding of these costs. At the time, there was no process for collecting or managing their energy data to establish baselines or benchmarks,and no foundation from which to build an energy strategy. They had 36 sites with various Energy Management Systems (EMS) installed, but no visibility to live meter data and many sites without EMSs, forcing the company to rely heavily on data from multiple utility sources. Gaining access to better data became their top priority. Additionally, they needed to understand and document what their official energy-efficiency goals should be. A cross functional team spanning energy, waste, sustainability, and sourcing, among others was formed to support this initiative. The team identified the following goals, spanning a five year timeframe, with clear and actionable plans.
- Claim sustainability as a competitive strategy
- Complete current-state assessments, including baseline metrics
- Set energy reduction goals and program expectations
- Clarify metrics and identify how progress would be measured
- Set timeframes for each goal, including a 25% kWh reduction in energy over a five year period
Knowing that their lack of data and formal processes was a major challenge to achieving these goals, the company turned to Ecova for help. Ecova provided the company with energy reporting and analytics to help identify usage patterns, track costs, and develop and help implement a consistent energy management strategy across the entire organization.
NEW ENERGY MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
Using newly-formed baselines, built on data analytics gathered from both historical bill data and trend data collected from the EMSs at individual sites and facility meters, the teams were able to document other annual benchmarks extending more than five years out. With the realization that the growing company needed an official set of sustainability goals, they formalized a personalized energy and sustainability strategy, a vision for a more sustainable company. A very collaborative strategy was put in place to insure each action item outlined in the sustainability plan. Additional steps used to establish and support their strategic goals included facility audits to pinpoint systems that needed replacing; a cost-benefit and ROI analysis to prioritize capital projects with the greatest return; and ongoing training and education for all employees, from the board room to the sales floor.
From a cost management standpoint, Ecova helped the retailer gain control over their utility bill expenses by ensuring the bills were accurate and paid on time while also optimizing energy rates and obtaining refunds where applicable. Additionally, both companies worked to maximize the value of EMS and Smart Meters with the following efforts:
- Prioritize locations for EMS installs based on greatest ROI
- Execute re-commissioning at 29 locations to make sure sites were properly controlled
- Install Smart Meters at show rooms and facilities for recording electric consumption in 15
- Regulate and optimize consumption at all new stores equipped with EMS
- Monitor and resolve EMS alarms and inbound service calls remotely to provide operational support and reduce maintenance truck rolls
RESULTS TO DATE
With this strategy in place, the company’s energy management has resulted in tremendous bottom-line savings, improved operational efficiencies and continued data insights. The data helped to pinpoint and prioritize projects that provided the most immediate energy and cost savings. A few of these projects included:
- The re-commissioning of a single site resulted in a 16% reduction in energy consumption at that site in one year
- An LED retrofit pilot delivered a 62% reduction in consumption in just two years. Successful pilot led to a program extension to include lighting retrofits across the portfolio inclusive of 37,000 lamps to date.
- Electric energy consumption was reduced from 10 to 8 kWh at a single location through an HVAC retrofit. Additional candidates were identified for similar retrofits and inefficient systems were replaced
After just four years, the company has achieved 29% energy reduction, surpassing their five year goal of 25% reduction. Additional results have been achieved through the reduction of maintenance truck rolls, which have contributed an estimated $172,800 in cost avoidance in a single year. These savings also supported operational efficiency improvements and were achieved through remote resolution of issues by Ecova’s Responsive Monitoring 24/7/365 Operations Control Center.