Exploring rebates and incentives for energy efficient businesses
Businesses in New Jersey can obtain rebates and incentives through New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program (NJCEP), which is aimed at encouraging homes and businesses to utilize renewable energy sources. NJCEP works actively to meet the standards set by the US Environmental Protection Agency so participants may also qualify for incentives through the Energy Star program.
In particular, the NJ SmartStart Building program offers businesses the opportunity to offset some of the costs related to increasing the energy efficiency of a project, whether building an industrial site from the ground up, renovating existing space, or upgrading equipment.
“For most business owners, energy is their 3rd or 4th largest expense behind salary, supplies, and rent,” says Bradd Forstein, executive vice president of Energy Systems & Installation (ESI). “It is also the one expense you can have a dramatic and immediate impact on by just identifying what you are wasting.”
Design support is available for large development projects, which includes buildings over 50,000 square feet, while technical assistance is available for projects less than 50,000 square feet. Businesses that purchase and install energy efficient equipment can qualify for other financial incentives through the NJ SmartStart Building program.
NJCEP also offers the Direct Install program, which specifically services existing small to medium-sized facilities with peak demand no greater than 150 kW. Direct Install pays up to 70 percent of the project cost for replacing lighting, HVAC, and other outdated operational equipment with energy efficient alternatives.
Additional incentives and certifications are available to businesses through the EPA’s Energy Star program, which applies energy performance rating systems for commercial and institutional buildings and manufacturing facilities. These ratings, scored between one and 100, benchmark energy efficiency levels of specific buildings and industrial plants against the energy performance of similar facilities.
Energy Star ratings are used by building and energy managers to evaluate the energy performance of their respective facilities. The rating systems are also use by EPA to determine if a building or plant can qualify to earn Energy Star recognition. Buildings that score a 75 or greater may qualify for the Energy Star Logo. Buildings that score under 75 have a great potential to improve their bottom line by developing an Energy Reduction Plan.
“By partnering with Energy Star, consumers and businesses reduced their utility bills by $24 billion, due to investments in energy-efficient technologies and practices that will continue to provide bill savings for years to come. In 2012 alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, prevented 242 million metric tons of GHG emissions, providing over $5.8 billion in benefits to society due to reducing damages from climate change,” reports the EPA.
The first step to obtaining rebates or incentives is benchmarking your operation. Once you know your score you can set a goal to decrease or control energy consumption. Often energy is wasted and simply identifying and correcting waste can decrease consumption by more than 20 percent, according to the EPA.
Benchmarking is available for free through NJCEP. The process will track and score your actual energy usage based on your industry type and NJCEP will provide a detailed report along with valuable information on implementing energy-efficient technologies. This report includes information on the financial incentives available to lower project costs.
The number of space types that can receive the energy performance rating is expanding and now includes commercial offices, bank/financial institutions, healthcare facilities, hospitality, houses of worship, medical offices, multi-family housing, retail, warehouses, data centers, and many others.
Many technologies available today target a wide variety of systems and offer dramatic reductions in energy consumption for a small investment that usually has a payback within three to five years. Several utility companies in New Jersey also offer excellent rebates and loan programs to encourage their customers to reduce their energy consumption.
More Information on Incentive & Rebate Programs
New Jersey Clean Energy Program: www.njcleanenergy.com
US Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star Program: www.energystar.gov
By Sandy Stead, Senior Energy Consultant and Gary Bell, Regional Director, Energy Systems & Installation (ESI). ESI works with its clients as their long term energy partner to permanently reduce their energy consumption and offset the ever increasing costs of utilities. Stead and Bell have been working with business owners for more than 20 years, identifying opportunities for them to save energy by implementing cost saving measures such as new lighting systems, controls, building automation, HVAC, and various other energy efficiency technologies.