Picture a time when a company’s buildings look less like net energy consumers and more like integrated power plants, suggests William “Billy” Grayson, principal of Bent Branch Strategies and former director of sustainability at Liberty Property Trust. That’s what Grayson believes the future will look like.
Grayson will be speaking about this and how the role of energy managers is evolving at the 2017 Environmental Leader Conference in June. We recently caught up with him to find out the major shifts happening in energy management.
What is a trend you’re seeing in energy management?
One is the availability of really granular data. We’ve gone from the time when you had to work with utility companies and maybe a couple brokers to do energy procurement to having your own dashboard. Now the energy manager has almost the same tools that the energy brokers would have.
Related to that, what are the biggest challenges?
When you have this data at an affordable price, you still often need some guidance on how to project long-term trends and build a mix of energy that leads to price stability, helping you get the best deal.
Everybody has to figure out how to integrate renewable energy — onsite or offsite — into their energy management mix. You’re looking at more long-term deals. Normally when I’m buying electricity through the grid, I’ll sign for a year or two, not for 20. Doing a solar power purchase agreement is very different than buying electricity or gas through the grid, even for a sophisticated energy manager.
What are examples of companies using energy management to meet sustainability and financial goals?
In industrial real estate, Prologis has had an interesting time integrating renewables into their portfolio and figuring out ways to make money from onsite renewable energy. They’re the biggest owner of warehouses in the United States. They have 120 megawatts installed of solar — that’s about 10 times as much as any other industrial real estate owner.