Timing is everything!
Dale Chastagner, facility manager for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administratio’’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center in Santa Cruz, CA, had an opportunity to attend BOC training. Chastagner was initially skeptical of just how beneficial it would be to his already-considerable experience of over thirty years in facilities management. But with new technologies constantly emerging, he felt there was always more to learn and also found the energy-saving focus of the program to be intriguing. Little did he realize how timely his training would be.
Chastagner recalls, “I was sitting at my desk doing my BOC homework on benchmarking when I received an email from our headquarters informing me that they were contracting NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab) to conduct an energy audit of our facility. They asked for a list of information about our facility to initiate the audit. The information they requested was exactly what I was working on for homework. I emailed my work to them and immediately got a call to have a discussion about the data I sent, as well as more information about benchmarking and BOC. Headquarters was very excited about my being ahead of the curve. Because of that, I have been an intrinsic part of the process, making suggestions and determining solutions.”
While finding money for projects is quite competitive within the government and its various agencies, Chastagner believes that the early and thorough data he’d compiled for his BOC class, serendipitously just what was needed for the initial energy audit, was key in his facility being at the top of the list for funding. He has subsequently attended several government and utility co-sponsored energy seminars/webinars on navigating the funding process, which can be arduous, and found them very useful. Having benchmarking data on hand, as per BOC’s teachings, definitely simplifies the work.
“We have since received the completed energy audit from NREL and monies have been committed by the federal government to proceed with most all of the identified energy savings measures, along with a photovoltaic (PV) array. We are now in discussion with PG&E to put in place a UESC (Utility Energy Service Contract) as the vehicle to complete this project. At first look, we are anticipating a savings of 36k/year with 6-7k savings coming from renewables in the form of the PV array. This project should average out to a 4-year payoff on our investment. I anticipate the contract to be executed and the on-site work to begin by September/October,” says Chastagner.
In addition to the expenditures on new energy sources at the facility, Chastagner notes that the benchmarking and auditing processes also yielded many no-cost/low-cost changes that saved on energy usage. “Even things as simple as turning down the thermostats on water heaters can affect usage numbers,” he states.
Relinquishing his initial skepticism of BOC training, Chastagner has just begun taking the BOC level II series in San Francisco. The Santa Cruz facility is only about ten years old, but new prospects of improving energy efficiency come up all the time and Chastagner wants to be more than ready to take advantage.