As a small or medium-sized business (SMB) owner, you know you have to be smart about managing expenses if you want to create and sustain profitability. Ranking in the top three to five expenses for businesses of all sizes, utilities are a fixed cost that increasingly deliver sticker shock for SMBs and franchise owners. Virtually every business with an owner-occupied building would like nothing better than to reduce energy consumption and costs.
At the same time, costs are far from the only reason SMBs and franchise owners are looking to reduce energy consumption. Many businesses are going green to reduce carbon emissions and their impact on the environment. And while going green tends to net more “green” in the form of dollars saved on energy costs, it’s just part of many individual, local and global benefits of becoming more energy efficient.
Hitting the wall on energy efficiency
However, as SMBs have implemented green initiatives, many have hit a brick wall in terms of implementing energy efficiency. That brick wall is literally sometimes a real wall; that is, it’s the building where the business is located. Many existing, owner-occupied buildings are still energy inefficient. They haven’t been upgraded to be intelligent about energy and how to optimize its usage based on how and when the building is being used.
Why is that? If the benefits of reducing energy consumption are so clear, what’s holding back SMBs and franchise owners from making their buildings as energy efficient as possible? In a nutshell, it’s cost, time and resources. While large enterprises typically have the resources in both liquid assets and employees to invest in making their buildings intelligent, SMBs and franchise owners haven’t usually had that luxury.
However, things are changing rapidly for the better, making it easier, faster and more affordable for SMBs and franchise owners to enjoy the type of intelligent buildings that previously only enterprises could achieve.
Why intelligent buildings are so important
Intelligent buildings take advantage of technology advances such as the internet-of-things (IoT) to achieve sustainability goals and reduction of energy consumption, as well as employee productivity gains, occupant comfort, and increased asset value. By making a facility more attractive and comfortable, intelligent buildings also enhance the customer experience.
When you upgrade to an intelligent building, you improve its performance through automatic control of systems such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting, and others. Sensors continuously collect data about energy needs and usage, a centralized building management system then processes the data and acts on it accordingly, and controllers manage the systems automatically.
“Cloud-based control systems can be especially effective in small or medium-size offices without the staff or expertise to maintain the building’s energy systems. Allowing a third-party firm to monitor the building, for instance checking HVAC equipment for malfunctions or setting lighting schedules, can be a cost-effective way to save energy.”
Overcoming the barriers
According to the latest data available from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (from 2012), nearly 82 percent of commercial buildings in the U.S. were built before 2000. That means that many of the facilities in use today were not originally designed with energy efficiency in mind.
Until more recently, retrofitting existing buildings to become intelligent has been prohibitively expensive, with high upfront costs and a slow return on investment. Only the largest enterprises could afford to take advantage of emerging technologies to transform their buildings and reduce their energy consumption.
However, newly affordable hardware and software have changed the equation, making it more affordable than ever for SMBs and franchise owners to upgrade their buildings to an intelligent building management system. For instance, according to a report by Goldman Sachs and BI Intelligence, the cost of IoT sensors have dropped by more than half between 2004 and 2014 and are expected to shrink another 30 percent by 2020.
Removing the risk
Even with falling prices, retrofitting existing buildings requires upfront capital. For SMBs and franchise owners, this could mean taking on loans as well as the risk of project failure. It often requires time and resource commitments on the part of the business to manage the project.
However, there is a no-cost, no-risk way for SMBs and franchise owners to transform their existing buildings into intelligent facilities. The solution is to partner with a company like JouleSmart.
Using a partnership approach, JouleSmart covers your upgrade costs, including management and installation. No capital expenditures are required from you for the retrofit. Instead, JouleSmart pays for the upgrades with the savings obtained from reduced energy consumption after your building is retrofitted. State and utility rebate and incentive programs reduce retrofit costs and improve savings, while state and utility financing programs provide JouleSmart with access to capital.
There’s no better time
Putting your building to work for you is a smart business decision. There’s never been a better time or a better way to transform your underperforming building into an intelligent, productive, efficient and comfortable place of business. Your bottom line, your employees, your customers and the planet will all benefit.