Scott Ringlein, EAG’s CEO and President, published an interesting article last week detailing the gatekeeper function of corporate financial advisers who are often “the determining factor for energy efficiency projects moving forward or getting tabled!”
Financial advisers typically have strict expectations of payback periods on energy investments. If a proposed project does not meet those expectations the financial “gates” don’t open. The energy efficiency or sustainability project will remain on a facility manager’s wish list!
Who are the Gatekeepers?
Energy efficiency gate-keeping is not solely the function of those in charge of guiding the financial decisions of a business. At times automatic gate-keeping is the result of locally enacted energy policy that limits the ease of adopting energy efficiency. Technology sales people can act as gatekeepers when they choose to only recommend replacing the “lowest hanging fruit” that assures an easy sale from the quick return on investment.
A discussion with an architect revealed the lending gatekeeper scenario. The architect described a generalized “dumbing down” of the design of new building construction because the preferred energy efficiency components are often viewed as luxuries by traditional lending sources. Those “luxuries” are often eliminated from the final project, so why waste time adding them in the first place?
One of the worst examples of gate-keeping is when local bureaucrats decide to maintain the status quo by refusing to approve policy that fosters energy efficiency because “we don’t see a demand for it!”
Growing pressure to open the energy efficiency “gates”
Demand for energy efficiency is exploding. The collective gate-keeping activities that affect all things energy related are under increasing pressure to utilize advanced strategies for adopting energy efficiency. This pressure comes from the growing awareness of the need to reduce the waste of carbon-based energy while increasing the use of renewable energy.
Two recent examples serve to highlight the speed and magnitude of the energy efficiency movement which is affecting gate-keeping decisions.
The first example, which has broad implications, is the pledge by the City of New York to convert to 50% renewable energy by the year 2030. The second example, affecting countless businesses directly and indirectly, is the growing list of cities joining together to form 2030 Districts. Their collective goal is to dramatically reduce building energy use by 2030.
Education changes gate-keeping decisions
New decision making processes are required to achieve the world’s increasingly aggressive energy goals. Those processes will include policy, financing and technology that are energy friendly. The three components include a significant learning curve in order to implement them effectively. Education will be the common denominator for overcoming the negative gate-keeping that frequently rejected moving forward on energy efficiency upgrades because of the barrier of the up-front costs. When the long term savings of energy efficiency are clearly defined and valued, the strategies to overcoming the upfront cost will be aggressively sought out. Those gatekeepers who previously denied energy projects will then become their biggest champions!