Saving energy costs is smart business, yours and your customer’s, and it’s good for our planet as well ... hey, a threefer! If you claim the title of systems integrator, then you are savvy in solving complex and technical challenges. If you aspire to be a solutions provider, you must be good at solving business challenges. Helping your customers save energy will require you to do both of these well.
But is it really worth all the energy it’s going to take? Watt? Of course it is. It might even be the crown joule on your business collection. Sorry, the punmeister in me sometimes LEEDs me down this path. Darn, I did it again! All fun aside, energy measurement, management and sustainability certification trends are good business for several reasons.
3 Compelling Reasons to Dive In
First of all, being the strong advocate of return on investment, it is clear that BAS/HVAC integrators have used this approach for decades. These companies are so confident in doing their homework, technical skills, field experience and modern systems technology that they regularly execute “performance” contracts with customers and share in the cost savings. There are some lessons they could teach, as well as learn from their counterparts in the physical security integrator market.
Secondly, combining skills in access control and video systems with new applications of using these systems to save energy decreases the payback period for funding physical security systems. Using access control to grant access to tenant space isn’t new. Turning on the lights and energy metering saves energy and provides a new billable revenue stream for building management. This is especially true for multiple occupancy and unique new mixed use properties that have been all the rage.
Third, there are significant opportunities for building relationships with BAS integrators that want to grow their business through alliances rather than adding full-time employees, as well as training costs in a business they don’t know; especially in these economic times. So what is the best way to get the ball rolling?
You must learn the language, trends and methods of energy management. The cost for energy is a fluid dynamic that varies regionally, which means each opportunity is as unique as are the customers that purchase these solutions. Energy-efficient buildings are often referred to as “smart” buildings. Buildings aren’t smart, people are. If you are smart you should look at how and what information is delivered, and where in the building that information is deposited. Then you can begin to see the possibilities of streamlining building information management with physical security information management.
How Access Control Skills Fit In
So we are good to go, right? Not so fast my friend! Next you need to do some ground-pounding reconnaissance legwork with your favorite customers. While you may be in new territory, don’t be afraid and make sure your senior management team is involved with this important step to ensure they clearly understand the true risks and the opportunities in entering this market.
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure” is a famous quote attributed to Dr. Demming, my favorite management guru. So an energy-savings process begins with evaluating what current energy cost and usage trends are for your customer today. Next, you really do need to check a customer’s willingness to upgrade their systems. Money now is always different than money later; ask your accountant. Upgrading energy management can be as simple as better control of the controls. Take for example, the thermostat by authorized individuals; the key word being authorized.
Now where else does authorized access, schedules for access and programming around business operational usage apply? Yep, electronic access control feels about right. What makes this interesting is that to accomplish energy savings, there is the easy way and the hard way. The hard way requires a serious commitment to manpower, training and competition. The easy way is to do what you already do:
- Understand your customer’s facility’s operational needs and usage under normal and unusual situations.
- Understand where the key energy control points (thermostats) are located in their facilities, and what heating and cooling equipment they currently have installed.
- Do some homework on suppliers that sell solutions that provide remote control of thermostatic controls via the cloud. This approach allows your customer more efficiency to program the facility via the Web and a new revenue source for your company.
Tips for Better Design and Projects
I reached out to some trusted clients and friends to gain some additional perspective and got some great feedback. One who really stood out was Roy Hoffman Jr., the president of MC² who actually has three times as many credential initials behind his name than I do. That’s right, a real rocket scientist! Besides being a SE Partner, his company also does structured cabling and physical security.
Some thoughts he shared with me for this article include:
- Designing and upgrading building systems with a single provider can save money, time and headaches for both the customer and integrator. The customer has “one throat to choke” and the integrator can fully explore the best technology solutions and consolidate their purchasing power yielding project savings.
- Upfront and early involvement in building operational requirements, tenant characteristics, energy performance opportunities and reducing security risks to the owners is a recipe for a successful project and energy-savings program.