Your Guide to Creating Sustainable Operations, Part One: Deploying Green Technologies
Municipal entities and business leaders alike understand that, increasingly, people are expecting them to implement sustainable tools and technologies across their facilities to combat climate change.
The government has set far-reaching goals through laws such as the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019 (CLCPA). These laws aim to decarbonize the economy by shifting to renewable electric-based energy and heating systems within 20–30 years. To accomplish this, many facilities must be re-engineered completely.
What Is Best for Your Organization?
Making sense of the best course of action can depend on several factors. The age of your facility, the proximity of local communities, available infrastructure, and political factors may all figure into your efforts to improve the environmental performance of your municipality or business.
Before embarking on any attempts to “green” a facility, it is important to identify goals. To figure out the tactics needed to support those goals, you should work with someone that can provide you with the data needed to make informed decisions and set realistic targets against which to measure the effectiveness of the tools you decide to use.
Of course, it is commendable that any organization would try to improve its environmental performance. But to do so, it must fully understand the current working conditions as they relate to the proposed changes. In some instances, gathering critical data about a facility, machinery, or infrastructure component can be achieved by performing what is called a utility valuation or an asset inventory and condition assessment. For more information about utility valuations, refer to Walden’s guide on this topic.
When conducting an asset inventory, an expert will evaluate the efficiency of the building, operation, or equipment and the estimated life span of a particular asset. That is important because if something is nearing the end of its service life, it may be more cost-effective to replace that component or the entire system with something that is more energy efficient or utilizes a more sustainable primary energy source, thus providing the operator with savings.
Similarly, someone with experience performing such assessments can help organizations determine if there are areas for improvement in their operations that could provide immediate benefit to the environment while not being financially burdensome to taxpayers or other parties with financial interests. Additionally, the government has and will offer low-cost loans and grants to aid early adopters in efforts to decarbonize.
During a system assessment, an expert will observe operations through peak work hours and make recommendations for reducing consumption of energy or other resources as appropriate. Those recommendations could be very simple, like installing motion-activated light switches or replacing incandescent lights with LED lights, and they could be quite complex, like installing a solar panel array or a building HVAC control system.
Another important factor in performing work like this is considering feedback from all stakeholders where appropriate. A consultant with experience working with municipalities and business leaders can help by providing your organization with support in communicating the study findings via multiple channels like Town Hall meetings, conferences, webinars, or press releases.
At the conclusion of an asset inventory or energy audit, the stakeholder will be provided with concrete choices that can help it be a responsible consumer of resources. Upgrades to or replacement of facilities, machinery, or infrastructure in the name of sustainability must be cost-efficient and, in the case of public facilities, must maximize the use of taxpayer dollars responsibly.
Understanding how to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and protect local communities is not innate. However, a detailed study that considers multiple factors will help you on your path. In addition to building support in your organization, if you are a municipality, you may need to develop amendments to existing regulatory policies that govern your operation to ensure you get full buy-in to the changes proposed to your facility or operation.
Contact Walden at 516-518-3705 or click here to learn more about Walden’s research and development efforts in sustainability. Stay tuned next week for part two of our sustainability guide, and access the guide in full here.