Energy – without it, our economy would come to a standstill. Energy sources power our cars, our homes, our offices, educational facilities and healthcare buildings. The domino effect when energy is lost due to a storm or grid congestion is hard hitting: we are without key forms of technology and transportation, along with the loss of everyday necessities, conveniences and forms of communication. Energy is the lifeblood of the commercial sector in the U.S., and helps to keep the economy powered. Overall, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that commercial facilities account for 36% of all U.S. electricity consumption and cost more than $190 billion in energy every year. Commercial facilities are also responsible for 18% of U.S. carbon dioxide (a primary greenhouse gas) emissions, and they consume more than 18%, or 18 quads, of U.S. primary energy—more than all of Canada’s energy consumption.1 Compounding this consumption scenario is a startling fact: On average, 30% of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.1 Improving efficiency means tens of billions of dollars in potential energy savings, improved asset performance for owners and tenants, and increased profits.
When the bottom fell out of the economy as we entered 2008, businesses across every industry were forced to double down on cost slashing, and no operating expense was spared. Energy consumption expenditures received as much scrutiny as did traditional supply chain expenditures. For many commercial operators, utility expenses are often their third-largest budget line item, often trailing only labor and materials. Those companies that invested in efficiency programs to drive cost cutting, whether behavioral or technology driven, have enjoyed the rewards of reduced operational costs, an investment strategy that proved important to surviving a drawn-out, dismal economy.
This paper will showcase the monumental shift being experienced across Ecova’s base of clients in terms of consumption reduction. We will explore how demand has been impacted, as well as load efficiency. We will provide insight into energy pricing, and we’ll present a startling set of facts surrounding the price pressures impacting the water being used by commercial establishments, which will serve as a bellwether for the expansion of efficiency programs for this natural resource as the future unfolds.
1 U.S. Department of Energy, http://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/commercial/about.html, March, 2013