Online training takes aims at energy, water use in food service

According to the Food Service Technology Center You are leaving WAPA.gov. (FSTC), an energy-efficiency and appliance testing facility funded by Pacific Gas and Electric, the industry has a $40 billion utility bill and is five to 10 times more energy intensive than other commercial customers. Since food service employs one in 10 U.S. workers, the chances are good that you have at least one restaurant in your service territory. That gives you the opportunity to help an important customer segment succeed, support your local economy and conserve critical resources.

Teaching food service employees to manage energy and water costs the same way they manage their food cost has the potential to reduce billions of dollars of waste annually. But behavior change takes education, and delivering training to a diverse, busy and mobile workforce is a big challenge, to put it mildly. FSTC has tackled this challenge by introducing online sustainability training to turn food service professionals into energy-efficiency experts: FE3 You are leaving WAPA.gov. certification.

Industry-wide application
Based on 28 years of lab and field work, energy surveys and design consultations by industry experts, FE3 has built a practical curriculum focused on results. Like most industries, food service encompasses not only those involved in day-to-day operations, but also a wide network of supporting trades and employees. FE3 training can help all of these professionals understand their role in improving sustainability.

Restaurant owners, managers and staff will learn how to operate and maintain an efficient kitchen and how to choose more efficient equipment. Utilities and suppliers will learn about the industry’s energy challenges so they can develop programs and services to help restaurants become more profitable. Facility designers, equipment manufacturers and service agents can gain skills that will make them resources for restaurants seeking to increase sustainability.

Culinary and hospitality schools can add the sustainability curriculum to their programs. FE3 derived the online course material from classes taught live to university, college, community college and culinary students for over a decade.

Convenient, comprehensive learning
Recognizing that hectic schedules can be a big barrier to training in the food service industry, FE3 makes the six modules available online 24/7.

Each module covers a different area of food service energy and water use with interactive exercises. Topics include:

  • Intro to energy efficiency – How energy use relates to sustainability and why energy efficiency is a necessary component of a commercial food service sustainability program
  • Efficient and effective lighting – The basics of electric lighting and how to choose lighting products that use less energy, look good and meet the special needs of commercial food service
  • Efficient refrigeration – The basic principles of refrigeration and how to select and maintain energy-efficient refrigeration systems
  • Water conservation – The basic principles of water use and conservation in a food service operation and how to select and compare energy- and water-efficient dish machines
  • Energy-efficient cooking equipment – The basics of food-prep and cook-line energy use and how to reduce cooking appliance operating costs
  • Commercial kitchen ventilation – The basics and best practices to optimize kitchen ventilation systems

The material is narrated, loaded with easy-to-understand graphics and employs gamification and avatars to make learning more fun. Modules conclude with a short exam that reinforces learning.

After successfully completing the FE3 training, students will understand basic energy terms and have practical skills that will positively impact their restaurant’s bottom line. They will be prepared to choose the right lighting for specific tasks, calculate the cost of water leaks, properly maintain refrigeration, select energy-efficient cooking appliances with online tools and troubleshoot and optimize commercial kitchen ventilation systems.

Help for key accounts
Although FE3 training was developed by the California-based FSTC, the curriculum is relevant to food service employees across the country, as are many other resources the center offers.

Utility key account supervisors should explore FSTC, bookmark it and share it with their food service customers. Let restaurant owners and operators in your territory know about the recommendations for energy-efficient kitchen equipment, design guides for water and ventilation systems, equipment test results and a variety of calculators. Tell them about the presentations from FSTC seminars and webinars archived online. Share the industry links and publications with your local coffee shop or five-star dining establishment. In an industry with notoriously thin margins and high turnover, utilities can make a difference.

Calculator makes case for commercial property upgrades

Energy-efficiency projects for commercial buildings offer many benefits, including a positive effect on the bottom line, yet getting approval to fund such upgrades continues to be a challenge. To help property managers understand and assess the financial value of investing in a property’s energy performance, the Better Buildings Initiative and USAA Real Estate Company You are leaving WAPA.gov. created the Building Upgrade Value Calculator (BUVC).BBwebinar350

Most real estate and business owners prioritize money for “good news” property improvements like tenant improvements and leasing commissions when allocating capital. Efficiency projects may fail to make the list for a number of reasons, including payback times that exceed industry standards or the perception that energy retrofits are too complicated. Another problem is that the capital expenditure for energy retrofits often is not underwritten when an asset is purchased or developed, so spending capital lowers investor dividends and yield.

USAA Real Estate Company, which manages about $7 billion in real estate assets, developed the Excel-based analysis tool to help their property managers evaluate the financial returns of energy performance projects in investor-owned real estate. Energy Star partnered with USAA on the second version of BUCV to expand its functionality and make the tool widely available to the broader industry. You can download it for free from the Energy Star website.

The user enters information, such as square footage, annual utility bill, the projected cost and savings for each investment and financing terms, to determine a particular investment’s energy and financial benefits. BUVC allows you to calculate the costs and benefits of base building energy-efficiency measures for both the owner and each tenant under a variety of lease types—full service gross, modified gross, triple net. The results can be either printed as a summary report, or generated as a customized letter to present to senior management to make the business case and secure funding.

USAA continues to use the calculator to reach its Better Buildings Challenge goal of reducing energy use by 20 percent. Also, the Building Owners and Managers Association International has included the tool in its Energy Efficiency Program You are leaving WAPA.gov..

Your key accounts managers can use the BUVC to help commercial real estate customers understand the value of making energy-efficiency improvements on their properties. Increasing funding for such projects can reduce energy use in some of the most energy-intensive buildings in your territory. Efficiency upgrades can also increase asset value and net operating income for large utility customers, while keeping their tenants happy. That is a lot of value for the calculator.

Source: Better Buildings Initiative, 10/4/16

Seminars cover California building code changes

California utilities have benefitted from strong building efficiency codes that have helped keep energy use constant in the state for decades. Power providers also appreciate the challenges building owners and developers face in complying with the toughest efficiency codes in the nation. Green Technology Training is offering a seminar You are leaving Western's site. that can help construction and real estate professionals, as well as utility key account staff and program managers, get up to speed on the latest revisions.

2016 Building Efficiency Standards: Changes and Challenges will cover the Title 24 changes that go into effect January 2017 for both residential and commercial buildings, from high performance walls and attics to lighting and lighting controls. With each round of revisions, the state’s Energy Code moves closer to the goal of zero net energy for all new construction. Staying up to date with its evolution will help utilities as they design new efficiency programs, update preferred contractor lists and advise commercial customers on retrofits.

For convenience, Green Technology is offering the seminar on multiple dates at locations throughout the state:

Attendees will be eligible to receive five Health, Safety and Welfare Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from the American Institute of Architects You are leaving Western's site. and .5 International Code Council You are leaving Western's site. CEUs for the course. Sessions will also offer Build it Green CEUs (one credit per hour) and Construction Management Association of America You are leaving Western's site. renewal points (one per hour). All registrants will receive a certificate of participation.

This training is a good opportunity to prepare your staff to support customers as they work toward creating the most efficient building stock in the country. Knowledge is power, and knowledge of the California Building Code is the power to become an indispensable resource your customers can rely on.

A look ahead: APPA Customer Connections offers economic development training

Utilities support the economic health of their communities by providing reliable power at affordable rates, but they will discover they have much more to offer at the Customer Connections Conference You are leaving Western's site. Oct. 18-21 in Austin, Texas.

The American Public Power Association (APPA) has put together a full track of economic development sessions for not only utility professionals, but local officials and city staff, board members and regional economic development and marketing specialists, too. All are encouraged to attend the event at the APPA member rate.

Improve key account service
A roundtable session will kick off the economic development track on Monday morning, Oct. 19. Key account and economic development professionals will come together to discuss the best practices for working together toward common goals. Participants will learn how to identify roles and actions, as well as how to collaborate on projects to attract and retain businesses.

Customers Speak is an afternoon panel that brings the large customer into the mix. Representatives from Whole Foods, Samsung Austin Semiconductor and other Austin-based key accounts will talk about what they expect from utilities and what drives customer satisfaction and decisions on location and expansion.

Bring business to town
Strategies for making your community stand out as a business-friendly environment are the focus of two more sessions. Retail Recruitment: Tips and Strategies for Building Stronger Communities looks at proven techniques to recruit and retain retailers and foster local entrepreneurship.

Finding creative solutions and new opportunities in environmental regulations is the topic of Using Sustainability as an Economic Development Tool. Hear from utilities that turned energy efficiency and sustainable innovation into drivers for economic growth.

Set sites high
Location may still be king, but it does not have to be your community’s destiny. On Tuesday morning, Oct. 20, participants will learn from experts how to identify and market to the right sectors, and discover what selectors really want in a site. The session Using Analytics and Visualization to Create Economic Development Opportunities will provide tools for evaluating the assets in your service territory and focusing your economic development efforts.

Later that afternoon, Site Selection Panel: Business Trends 2015 delves deeper into the trends and location priorities currently driving economic development activity in a number of industry sectors. A panel of site locators will talk about what they’re looking for when they visit your community, meet with local leaders and go through the incentives and negotiations process.

Do it right
The final two panels look at best practices in economic development. Successful Economic Development from a Statewide Perspective explores the programs and policies that make Texas one of the best states for business. Economic development representatives from Texas talk about business recruitment and expansion, incentives to expand and cultivate industry clusters and creation of a unified and proactive approach to economic development.

The track raps up Wednesday, Oct. 21 with Utility Economic Development Best Practices: Roundtable Discussion. After hearing about a national survey on the topic and reviewing utility case studies on successful economic development projects, strategies and practices, attendees will have the chance to share their experiences. There will also be a discussion on how utilities measure the value of economic development efforts and how to articulate success.

Public power professionals involved in economic development, key accounts, energy services, marketing, public communications and customer service can contact APPA at 202-467-2921 to learn more about this educational and networking event. The International Economic Development Council You are leaving Western's site. recognizes the Customer Connections Conference as a professional development event and offers continuing education credits to attendees.

Webinar offers tips for pitching energy efficiency to key accounts

July 23, 2015
1-2 p.m. MDT

Commercial efficiency consulting firm Noesis will present 5 Tips for Pitching Energy-efficiency Projects to CFOs Thursday, July 23.

Speakers will discuss how to get faster and more frequent approvals for commercial retrofit projects. Participants will learn five tips Noesis has developed to help marketing and customer service representatives deliver the business case for their projects and get more projects approved, faster.

Noesis specializes in working with energy-efficiency equipment vendors, but utility key account representatives might find the information valuable as well. Also, if your utility partners with vendors and contractors, consider getting everyone involved in marketing your customer programs to attend this training opportunity.

Source: Noesis, 7/17/15

APPA webinar series explores key account development

February 24
March 24
April 23
12 – 1:30 p.m. MST

The American Public Power Association  Redirecting to a non-government site (APPA) is presenting three webinars based on the new APPA Key Accounts Field Manual, beginning Feb. 24.

The Art of Key Account Program Development and Enhancement will provide practical tips and guidance for public utility key account professionals on the three primary issues encountered when developing and maintaining effective programs:

  • Time
  • Gaining buy-in
  • Financial resources

Participants will also receive a logic model worksheet to help them navigate the process of goal setting and budget development.

The series focuses on getting your utility’s key accounts program aligned with your leadership, your community and your personal skill set. The instructor will discuss how to take ownership of a program and how key accounts professionals can gain support for their efforts.

The webinar topics include:

  • Starting from within—Leveraging individual strengths to develop a key accounts program that fits personal skill sets
  • Discovering clarity—Removing obstacles in order to identify the true need of a key accounts program for specific communities
  • Defining success—Setting proper expectations to ensure success
  • Gaining buy-in—Getting the right people on board to elevate the key accounts program

Webinar instructor Erick Rheam is the coauthor of the key accounts manual, a resource for key account representatives and those who manage a utility’s key accounts program. Rheam currently serves as vice president of business development for Automated Energy, a web-based energy information provider in Bloomington, Indiana. His previous experience in the utility industry includes working as a key accounts coordinator and key accounts manager for municipal utilities in Indiana and Colorado.

This webinar is worth 1.5 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits, .2 Continuing Education Units (CEU) or 1.5 Professional Development Hour (PDH) credits in the CPE Field of Study, Specialized Knowledge & Applications. Only participants who register and whose attendance is confirmed by the webinar report log will receive the completion certificate.

The cost for attending the webinar series is $200 for APPA members, or $400 for nonmembers. APPA members may register for individual webinars for $89 per webinar; the individual cost for nonmembers is $179.

Key accounts representatives and program managers can register online or contact Sara Krautbauer at 202-467-2965. Links to all presentations and an audio recording will be sent out shortly after the webinar occurs.

City of Palo Alto Utilities scores top marks for customer satisfaction

E Source Announces Top Utilities in Large Business Customer Satisfaction

In a recent nationwide survey conducted by E Source  You are leaving WAPA.gov. utility energy efficiency research group, utility large business customers gave top marks to the City of Palo Alto Utilities  You are leaving WAPA.gov. (CPAU) for customer satisfaction.CPAUthumbsUp

Among small and midsize utilities, the Western customer ranked number three for utility satisfaction, thanks to superior marks for its account management team. This is the first time in the study’s six-year history that E Source separated utilities into two categories based on size.

For the fourth year in a row, CPAU has earned a top three ranking for customer satisfaction with a utility. CPAU’s large business customers were particularly pleased with their account representatives’ effective communication skills and customer service.

Now in its sixth year, the annual benchmark survey polls utility customers throughout the nation to gauge general satisfaction for communication, affordable rates, reliability and safety. Participants are asked to identify the top priorities for outstanding customer service among utility key accounts and measure how close their utilities come to meeting those expectations. The results are based on survey responses from more than 1,000 large business customers of 25 North American utilities.

This year’s survey respondents identified reliability as the attribute they considered most important for utilities. E Source Market Research Manager Rachel Cooper observed that customers consistently rate reliable energy, low prices and emergency communications as the most important utility services. “Having a utility that’s trustworthy is also extremely important for these customers, particularly when it comes to supplying energy-efficiency advice,” she added. “Large business customers most commonly chose their utility when asked to indicate who they most trust to provide this type of advice.”

Western congratulates CPAU on its strong showing in the survey. The Northern California municipal utility frequently earns recognition for its energy-efficiency and renewable energy programs, but the greatest honor is hearing your own customers say you are the best.

Free webinar – Surviving the coming utility revolution

Sept. 9, 2014
1 PM Mountain time

Suzanne Shelton of The Shelton Group energy consultants will be moderating a free webcast called Surviving the Coming Utility Revolution,Redirecting to a non-government site sponsored by Greenbiz.com, that will host energy management leaders from Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson and Wal-Mart. They’ll share their sustainability goals and how utilities can help them achieve those goals.

This webcast will show utilities how they can best serve and retain their largest commercial and industrial customers as they increasingly seek to generate their own energy and reduce their environmental footprint. If you work in strategic planning, energy efficiency or distributed generation program management, product development, or customer service/key accounts in an electric or gas utility, this webcast will give you excellent insight into how to position your utility and your product/service portfolio to be most appealing to your largest customers. Read more.Redirecting to a non-government site Source: The Shelton Group, 9/4/14

You can hear more of Suzanne Shelton’s insights into strategies for improving customer relationships at the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange.

DOE initiative connects manufacturers, no-cost energy audits

Most industrial customers could use some help trimming or managing their energy use, but small utilities serving those businesses often have their hands full just dealing with the day-to-day business of keeping the lights on. Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs), set up by the Energy Department’s Advanced Manufacturing Office, may have the solution you and your large key accounts need. 

IACs show small- and medium-sized manufacturers how to improve productivity, reduce waste and save energy. These steps can go a long way toward boosting the competitiveness of commercial and industrial customers. Through IAC offices, local university engineering departments and students work with manufacturers to identify energy-efficiency upgrade opportunities in their facilities. 

Teams of faculty and students perform assessments at no cost to the plants. The assessment begins with a one- or two-day site visit, during which engineering measurements are taken. The team then analyzes their results to make specific recommendations. Within a couple of months, the manufacturer receives a report from the team detailing the analysis, findings and recommendations, including estimates of costs, performance and payback times.

IAC recommendations have averaged about $55,000 in potential annual savings for each manufacturer.  IAC assessments are intended for manufacturers with Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes 20-39 located within 150 miles of a host campus. The business must have gross annual sales below $100 million, fewer than 500 employees at the plant site and annual energy bills more than $100,000 and less than $2 million.

There are four IACs located in Western’s territory:

  • Colorado State University
  • Iowa State University
  • San Diego State University
  • San Francisco State University

In addition to providing technical assistance to manufacturers, the program partner Rutgers University Center for Advanced Energy Systems maintains a massive database of IAC assessment summaries. Cases can be searched by year, SIC code, NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) code, energy cost, state, products or center. Each record describes the plant (but not the name), and includes a list of recommended measures with the estimated cost and saving of each.

Visitors can also find a description of the assessment process the industrial plant can expect. Additional resources, including a training manual, a self-assessment workbook for small manufacturers and case studies are also available.  Source: Energy Experts, 7/9/14