As government agencies are under ever increasing pressure to use energy retrofits as both a source of improved energy efficiency and lower budgets, agency heads are pursuing more comprehensive improvements to energy use and sustainable operations. The push to net zero energy is on, especially for projects that use retrofits to improve usage of existing facilities, especially given limited government funds available to make this goal a reality.
The August 2015 Energy Exchange three-day conference acknowledged the necessity of public and private sector collaboration in achieving these goals. These collaborations let government organizations benefit from private energy services’ market knowledge while the private sector receives substantial sustainably focused clients. Contracting out sustainable retrofit services provides the government agencies with the ability to focus on their mission while experienced firms provide cutting-edge services at a more cost-effective rate. These collaborations also create a higher return on taxpayer dollars due to the competitive nature of government projects and because government agencies take a longer-term view of their facilities, making them an easier sell on comprehensive energy-saving technologies.
How Energy Exchange is Pushing Shared Knowledge
The conference provides a chance for vendors and government agency management to exchange the best practices, cutting edge energy performance technologies, the benefits knowledgeable contractors bring to the table and the needs and pain points of government agencies that are adapting to sustainability while dealing with a tight budget. It’s the only current event of its kind and brings together people and organizations from all aspects of the process to share knowledge.
Though the original intent of the conference was to provide and increase training for energy practices, many attendees found the best value from group discussions, face time with both federal and private players and the informal discussions that picked up during down times. Because live events provide the opportunity to get away from daily concerns, the conference provided a place for minds to meet, do creative problem solving and helped create an atmosphere of camaraderie that is difficult to achieve otherwise. Katherine Hammack, the Army’s assistant secretary dealing with installation, energy and environmental impact mentioned, “the informal collaboration is just as important as the formal seminars.”
How Alternative Financing Helps with Budget Woes
One of the most important concepts coming out of the conference is how alternative financing can be used during times that budgets are tight and benchmarks must be met. One method used is to avoid the standard government contract altogether in favor of energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs), allowing the contractors to be paid through the energy savings of the project, avoiding painful appropriations concerns while allowing for risk sharing with the private sector. Specifically, ESPCs allow the needed benchmark energy savings for the agency while the contractor is paid out of the energy cost savings realized through the project.
Meeting Agency Goals in Sustainability
These types of practices help the agencies meet their goals and needs in multiple ways:
- Military: Renewable energy paired with energy efficiency makes the military more self-reliant as potential power issues are dealt with by lowering the risk to fuel convoys and potential terrorism attacks on power infrastructure.
- GSA: Sustainability makes federal workspace more cost-effective while making installations more appealing while bolster its position leading energy efficiency for the government.
- Department of Agriculture: Lowering reliance on fossil fuels makes the Department more resilient and reduces fuel needs while fostering greater environmental stewardship.
Whether you’re part of an agency or want to improve your business’ sustainability, Retro-Tech Systems is ready to help. Please contact our experts today to find out how energy-efficient lighting retrofits can benefit your organization.