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As federal agencies are “greening” their operations to comply with new laws and regulations, many are focusing on quick, low-cost projects—some as simple as replacing light bulbs or installing motion sensors—that will make them more energy efficient.
But faced with so many project variables, such as cost, potential energy savings, and speed of the return on investment, how do agencies know where to start? How do they know how to get the most bang for the buck?
To help organizations make these kinds of decisions, Booz Allen Hamilton has developed a unique toolkit that allows users to rank projects by a variety of financial and environmental metrics.
With the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Project Assessment Tool, managers can produce a ranking to fit their particular budget situations and energy-saving goals, says Booz Allen Associate John Asalone.
“We understand that federal agencies may have different priorities,” says Asalone, who helped develop the tool. “Some may have limited money, and are trying to figure out the best way to spend it. Others may have already done a lot, and are close to their energy-saving goals—and are looking for projects that will get them there."
Asalone offers an example of how the tool works: Perhaps an agency is considering installing more energy-efficient overhead lighting in an office building. Key information would be entered into the tool, such as the number of units being replaced; the existing energy consumption and the consumption profile of the new technology; and the various costs and time needed for the project.
The tool will automatically calculate the installation cost, the annual savings in terms of dollars and kilowatt hours, and financial metrics such as return on investment and payback period. The tool will also calculate environmental metrics such as the reduction in carbon emissions—and translate that information into statistics such as “forested acres preserved” and “equivalent cars off the road” that may be put in press releases and used to help sell the project internally.
Projects can be ranked by any single factor, or combination of factors. Agencies could, for example, identify the projects that will have the highest energy savings and at the same time reach the fastest payback. The tool can also recommend project sequencing, so organizations can tackle the projects in the most effective order.
This can be helpful, he says, when different constituencies in an organization are pushing for different projects—but there are not enough resources to go around. The tool provides a fair and objective method of choosing.
“Overall, the tool can be very valuable with the problem of ‘analysis paralysis,’ ” says Asalone. “When you can quickly figure out which projects are the most promising, and go after them, you can realize your savings much sooner.”