Earning Returns on Sustainability Investments

BY Burns Mechanical IN Energy, Philadelphia Benchmarking

Like most major cities in the U.S., Philadelphia is enacting energy policies to ensure its sustainable future. The office of sustainability has announced the objective of providing clean, affordable energy to all Philadelphians, with the long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80% and utilizing 100% clean electric energy by 2050. So, what does this mean for building owners and operators? It means that if you weren’t already thinking about energy efficiency, you are now.

The EPA estimates that 30% of the energy consumed by commercial buildings is wasted. In a typical building, that could be from heating or cooling the building while no one is there, or simply by maintaining old and inefficient HVAC equipment. One of the categories of Philadelphia’s Clean Energy Vision is the reduction of waste energy by increasing the overall efficiency of homes and businesses, which directly impacts every building in Philadelphia. Couple this with the impending R-22 refrigerant phase out and you have a strong financial incentive to update your building HVAC systems.

PECO awards a rebate check to Burns' client for energy efficient upgrades.

Burns Mechanical secured nearly $1 million in grants and rebates to partially fund the Doylestown Hospital’s cogeneration plant.

As of January 1, 2020, it will be illegal to manufacture or import the widely used R-22 refrigerant. A limited supply of R-22 will likely lead to an increase in the cost of repairs. Upgrading equipment before it reaches the end of its life ensures that you don’t have these leaks and avoids unwanted shutdowns of your facilities. If you wait until your equipment dies, you may even risk your eligibility for Act 129 rebate money when you finally do replace the equipment.

As mandated by Act 129, electricity providers offer incentives in the form of rebates to consumers who decrease their energy consumption by upgrading to more efficient equipment. The rebates are designed to offset the cost difference between standard and high efficiency equipment. This means that you pay less on your energy bills, and less energy is used overall. Less energy means fewer pollutants put into the atmosphere from power generation, too!

Many of our clients have taken advantage of these rebates to partially fund their building upgrades and have realized significant energy cost savings, further justifying their initial investment. After seeing the positive effects these rebates could bring, we wanted to make sure we were doing everything we can to help our clients make a complete and informed decision. As a registered PECO Trade Ally, Burns Mechanical can process Act 129 energy rebates. This allows us to navigate what can be a confusing task on behalf of our clients, ensuring that all criteria are met and the maximum benefit is obtained. Our in-house energy engineers perform analyses to determine the long-term savings from any type of building or equipment upgrades. From lighting retro-fits and micro-grids, to building enclosure improvements and rooftop unit replacements, we want to help you understand all of your financial and environmental decisions as Philly continues its pursuit of sustainability.

Last year, Pennsylvania adopted the 2015 energy code. Philadelphia, however, went the extra mile and adopted the 2018 energy code which places much more stringent requirements on building energy use. Though these more advanced requirements cause initial installation costs to rise, the increased building efficiency will result in lower energy costs. With higher upfront costs, seeking a partner to secure an optimized energy return will become even more imperative, as we seek to create a net positive cash flow. Our goal is to educate our clients, helping them stay ahead of the sustainability curve and make smart, forward-looking investments. By providing these services, we all contribute to making Philadelphia that much more efficient.