Can Vermont businesses cut their energy use in half?

by Nicole Carpenter, Engineering Manager

Each year between 2,000 and 3,000 Vermont businesses take steps toward improving the efficiency of their buildings and operations, but there is still a lot of room for more energy saving improvements. In order to help our local economy thrive and meet our state’s ambitious energy goals, we need to make significant and comprehensive changes to our existing buildings. At Efficiency Vermont, we are partnering with business leaders throughout the state to demonstrate the possibilities to save with deep energy retrofits.

At the 2015 Better Buildings by Design Conference we announced the launch of a new program for Vermont businesses. This opportunity was open to businesses looking to adopt wide scale efficiency strategies and overhaul their energy usage. We received a lot of interest and six businesses were selected to participate in our first ever Deep Retrofit program.

The participants:

These businesses have committed to learning more about how their buildings use energy and identifying ways to eliminate energy waste. Their facilities will serve as models, demonstrating the opportunity and benefit of undergoing a deep energy retrofit.

What is deep energy?

A deep energy retrofit takes a whole-building approach to achieve larger energy savings than conventional retrofits. Efficiency Vermont’s Deep Retrofit program encourages businesses to work holistically to achieve energy savings of 50% or more. To hit that 50% mark, businesses need to tackle their usage from every angle. From improving weatherization and investing in efficient technologies to engaging every employee, no energy saving stone can be left unturned.

What’s the next step for deep retrofit participants?

The participants will have six months to develop a detailed project plan and submit it to Efficiency Vermont for review. They will work with employees, contractors, design professionals, and their Efficiency Vermont energy consultant to make sure they have a clear and achievable path to realizing 50% energy savings. The most cost-effective plans will depend on the existing building conditions, how the building is used, and the business’ priorities. After completing a detailed plan, the participants will have another twelve months to implement the work. Once the projects are complete we will work with each participant to measure and verify their energy savings.

A comprehensive approach to get results

The Deep Retrofit program will not only help participants reduce their energy bills, it will also help other businesses understand the costs and benefits of going deeper with energy efficiency. We will use real-time measurement to evaluate each participant's success. We will also look at each facility as a whole, measuring total energy use across fuel types. This method of measurement will allow us to consider participant’s behavioral measures in addition to larger weatherization projects and equipment upgrades. With this innovative approach to achieving energy savings, we will gain new insights that will help us modify and design Efficiency Vermont programs in the future. 

We think these six Vermont businesses are up for the challenge. Stay tuned for updates on their progress. Use the comments below to let us know how you would achieve 50% energy savings in your workplace.

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