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Energy Master Plans

Not too long ago, making decisions about a company's energy management and sustainability was a fairly uncomplicated process for most facility managers. But today it's different. For industrial and manufacturing companies with large campuses or...


Not too long ago, making decisions about a company’s energy management and sustainability was a fairly uncomplicated process for most facility managers. But today it’s different. For industrial and manufacturing companies with large campuses or multiple facilities, possibly operating with different production systems and scattered across various geographic locations, managing such a task can become a significant challenge. The importance of the problem is magnified even further for those facilities that have high energy usage, deal with hazardous materials or have sizable waste disposal issues.

The solution for resolving the integration of energy and sustainability projects and assets in large industrial, manufacturing and institutional facilities is a fully integrated energy master plan. This is a long-term, broad-scoped plan that puts in place a company’s strategy to optimize all facets of energy efficiency and sustainability.

Although the components of the energy master plan are not entirely new, the necessity of putting this all together into a single integrated package is a new approach, something that many larger companies are now recognizing they need in order to make smarter energy decisions. This approach allows energy managers to recognize opportunities for conservation, sustainable design and renewable energy that more narrowly-focused energy audits might not.

Four stages of an integrated plan

An integrated energy master plan is individualized for each company, but includes the following four-stage parameters:

1) Investigation: The first phase of an integrated and comprehensive energy master plan is investigation. What is a company trying to achieve with such an initiative? What is, and what is not to be considered within the scope of the plan?

This involves interviewing key personnel relative to known and unknown problems regarding energy, production and maintenance issues. It also includes identifying constraints, such as financial, physical, cultural, zoning and any other limitations that may be intervening factors in an energy strategy.

The investigation also includes review of historical utility bills, a review of the company’s carbon footprint and emissions, gathering of relevant facility, electrical and mechanical drawings, specification sheets and automated energy management system records.

2) Visioning: This phase brings together key decision makers, such as the CEO, the head of energy or the head of facilities, to understand what their vision is. Is it to reduce energy consumption over a period of time, to manage risks, or to add renewable energy? What exactly is their goal, their vision? How do these goals tie in to the overall business objectives of the company, including factors such as product line changes and expansions, and facility build-outs or acquisitions that would influence decisions? What do they want to end up with ten years from now, so that can be backed up into a five- or ten-year plan.

It presents an in-depth review of the findings from the Investigation phase, including quantifying and visualizing system consumption and output; benchmarking to baseline and best practice systems; summarizing objectives and critical issues; identifying opportunities to pursue; and considering potential paths to follow.

Critical to this phase is a clarification and modification of the vision for the energy plan, as needed to achieve its stated goals, and to determine what is to be included and not included in the plan, as well as to determine how to manage constraints.

3) Analysis: A company now looks at all of the opportunities available, compared with the clarified vision and plan. It more closely investigates those technologies that can be utilized, and assembles basic costs and a phasing schedule to stagger the introduction of the technology as deemed most effective. A multiple-approach master plan is then drafted.

This part of the plan assesses energy and water efficiency, facility and equipment enhancements, heat and water recovery, control systems, sustainable systems, utility billing rate structure, peak shaving and shifting, and onsite power generation including renewable energy.

4) Deliverables: The last phase encompasses finalizing the energy master plan. This comprehensive plan includes an investment plan, energy targets, building sustainability targets, emissions and carbon footprint targets, operational targets, informational targets, and maintenance and upkeep targets. The plan also identifies final budget and resource commitments.

This section phases in all of the technologies and how the capital spend will be administered. It puts together any kind of internal communications tools that will be needed – everything needed to understand what this plan is, how to communicate the plan, how to present it to management, and then how to implement the plan.

For optimized feasibility, integrating both facility and process systems with a company’s overall sustainability objectives is ideal for a complete and integrated approach.

Jerry Carter is Senior Associate, LEED AP BD+C and Business Leader for SSOE Group’s Sustainable and Renewable Solutions in Toledo, Ohio. Contact Jerry at jcarter@ssoe.com Zach Platsis, LEED AP O+M, is Energy Specialist for SSOE Group’s Sustainable and Renewable Solutions in Toledo, Ohio. Contact Zach at zplatsis@ssoe.com


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