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New Jersey has some of the highest electricity rates in the nation for commercial and industrial users, and costs continue to rise. Some companies are able to invest in alternative energy sources, like the installation of solar power panels. But many businesses cannot afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars such projects require.

Fortunately, there are many ways businesses can reduce their energy usage without paying for expensive renovations to their buildings or devoting a full-time energy manager to control costs. Some energy efficiency experts offer the following advice.

—What Your Company Can Do—

First, get your employees involved:

  •   What financial and staff resources do you already have and how could they be used to implement an energy efficiency and conservation strategy?
  •   Is there some knowledgeable person on your staff who could research ways to reduce energy consumption?
  •   Are there resources for getting outside help?
  •   Develop a strategic approach.Involving everyone can be as simple as reminding people to turn lights off when they leave a room and turning on the power-save option on equipment.Second, form a “green team”, where possible:
    •   To help identify project areas and opportunities,
    •   Develop work plans, and
    •   Prepare for an official energy efficiency initiative launch or kickoff eventStaff from all departments and levels should be encouraged to be a part of the team. The projects considered might include raising/lowering the temperature a few degrees on programmable thermostats, installing automatic lighting controls or using mugs instead of paper/Styrofoam cups for coffee. Each workplace is different, but there are many solutions to consider for your worksite.Third, evaluate your office’s energy usage:

• Establish a baseline to measure your energy needs and areas that could be made more efficient.

Gather your office utility bills and put together a picture of how much energy your company uses. Many utilities have comprehensive Websites for commercial and industrial customers that can show the historical usage (usually past 12 months) and help measure any changes in your consumption.

Energy audits are another tool to help evaluate where changes or upgrades could be beneficial. For manufacturers, the New Jersey Manufacturing Excellence Program provides free plant assessments and recommendations that improve energy efficiency and pollution prevention. For more information, visit http://www.njme.rutgers.edu/. Often suppliers or energy efficiency providers will also provide a free or low-cost audit of a facility as well.

Fourth, take advantage of what’s free. Most people know the Energy Star label for appliances, but what about for buildings? Visit www.energystar.gov for practical guidebooks on making workplaces in your specific industry more energy efficient. Virtually any small business can improve its energy efficiency easily and cost-effectively using the many resources available from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Finally, take advantage of government funding and programs. Commercial and industrial ratepayers contribute millions of dollars each year through a societal benefit charge (SBC) on their energy bills to pay for government- run energy programs. New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program offers commercial and industrial customers financial incentives, design support, and technical assistance to integrate energy efficient and renewable energy technologies into new construction, upgrades, and new cooling and heating equipment installations. For specific program information, visit www.njcleanenergy.com. Many of the State programs, including the Smart Start building program, require prior approval before rebates or incentives are awarded.

—For More Information—
If you need additional information, please contact Sara Bluhm at 609-393-7707, ext. 9514 or via e-mail at sbluhm@njbia.org.
Additionally, you can access the following:
New Jersey Clean Energy Program at www.njcleanenergy.com or by calling 1-866-NJ-SMART.
EPA Energy Star Program at www.energystar.gov or by calling the ENERGY STAR Hotline, 1-888-STAR-YES.

Updated: July 19, 2016

This information should not be construed as constituting specific legal advice. It is intended to provide general information about this subject and general compliance strategies. For specific legal advice, NJBIA strongly recommends members consult with their attorney.