Prospecting for ‘Efficiency Reserves’

Prospecting for ‘Efficiency Reserves’
Lindsay Jones

Your tenants will tell you some of what you need to responsibly manage your building: it’s too hot, it’s too cold. But there are so many more energy savings hidden in your building, from not putting air pumps into overdrive to coolant at the right temperature, that we’ve given them a name: Efficiency Reserves.

“This is a little bit weird coming out of a clean energy company,” says Carbon Lighthouse CEO and Co-founder Brenden Millstein, “but we took a page right out of the oil company and gas company’s playbook, which is to look at the world through the lens of reserves.”

Carbon Lighthouse’s latest calculation puts the value of “Efficiency Reserves” at up to 55% of each building’s energy, which is worth over $100 billion every year in U.S. buildings alone. That’s more than twice the cash value of the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve.

Finding and tapping Efficiency Reserves is more useful than drilling into oil reserves, even if it gets a lot less attention. Unlike oil production, efficiency savings keeps carbon out of the atmosphere. And it takes less up-front spending.

“We can typically save twenty to thirty percent of the whole building energy use just by making the existing equipment work better,” Millstein says.

That’s because a typical building, Millstein says, “can be circulating much more air than is necessary. It could be heating something and then cooling it down, it could be heating or cooling an attic, a crawl space, or areas between the floors.”

By taking sensors to your building, like an oil company might use seismic surveys or ground-penetrating radar, Carbon Lighthouse engineers can prospect for your Efficiency Reserves.  And unlike heating specialists, lighting contractors, maintenance vendors, or elevator companies, Carbon Lighthouse deals in data and can generate the whole building picture. “We bring absolutely everything necessary to tie those scattered and hidden inefficiencies together,” Millstein says.

The oil industry can only drill the same oilfield once. Efficiency Reserves are always on the move. Did you just add a new tenant to your building? That floor is going to have different energy needs. Have existing tenants installed street-level automatic doors to bring in customers? Air circulation is going to change.

The proprietary software Carbon Lighthouse developed lets our engineers monitor clients’ buildings in real-time if we aren’t saving them enough energy—and keeping enough carbon out of the sky. Our engineers will review the management plan, the hardware, and suggest a new fix, to ensure that you get everything you can from the Efficiency Reserves in your building. We call this Efficiency Production.

Carbon Lighthouse has done this already for over 500 buildings in over a dozen states, saving clients millions of dollars and keeping 100,000 tons of CO2 out of the environment. “The Efficiency Reserves are hidden in plain sight,” Millstein says, “we’re just getting started.”

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