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Green Initiatives Red Hot Topic

Greg Zimmerman, editor of Building Operations Management magazine and author of the Green Building Alert for Facility Executives e-newsletter, reports that developing low- and no-cost strategies to start or continue green initiatives in current tough economic times was a widely discussed topic during the National Facilities Management & Technology (NFMT) show March 10-12, 2009, in Baltimore.

“Unfortunately, for many facility executives, photovoltaic panels don’t exactly fall into that category. By most estimates, PV panels have a payback of 15-20 years, depending on the size and efficiency of the solar array. Even with rebates and incentives that may reduce that ROI by a few years, it’s still too long for most facility executives to make a successful financial argument to the C-suite,” says Zimmerman.

He says there are a few other options to explore, “A power purchasing agreement is an arrangement whereby a third-party company will pay for and install PV panels on your facility and then charge you a fixed rate - usually pretty competitive, compared with just buying green energy from a utility - for the power produced. The contract usually lasts for about 20 years and the third-party company maintains the PV system.”

Zimmerman says another option is an energy performance contract. “An energy service company will foot the initial bill for the PV panels (as well as other energy efficiency upgrades) and you pay them back over 10 to 15 years from the guaranteed energy savings,” he adds.

With President Barack Obama’s proposal for a greenhouse gas cap and trade system in the 2010 federal budget, Zimmerman says finding ways to reduce emissions will become even more important for facilities. He believes producing in-house power from a renewable source is a good way to accomplish that goal.

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