By Alexis Durocher with Sonya Pouncy, CEM, CMVP, LEED-AP. Alexis is a Marketing and Outreach Representative with Energy Sciences. Sonya is a senior engineering consultant with Energy Sciences. The firm helps clients meet energy challenges with practical solutions that reduce waste and increase net operating income.

Whether your business is big or small, planning for big purchases in the future is a crucial part of preparing for business sustainability. When you’re planning for future purchases there are a lot of questions to consider, such as what needs to be updated next, what new equipment is needed for growth, and what needs to be repaired so operations can continue. One question decision-makers often forget to ask during this process is: Which of the purchase options is going to be the most efficient and have the lowest operational cost?

When planning to buy new equipment for your business, whether it is for your HVAC system, production, or the office, the energy efficiency of the equipment should be a key consideration. Take an office kitchenette, for example. Most offices have a kitchen of some sort with a refrigerator, but the efficiency of the refrigerator is often not factored into the purchase decision. Generally, people choose the refrigerator with the lowest price. While that low price-tag may look nice in the store, the utility bill received after its been running for a month or two will not be as appealing. For purchases such as this, it is important to look at total cost of ownership, or the life cycle cost. This means looking at how much the equipment is going to cost you throughout its entire life, accounting for purchase and installation as well operational (energy) costs and costs for maintenance, repairs, disposal, etc. An efficient refrigerator may cost a bit more upfront, but, all else being equal, it will cost less to run and will likely last longer than models with lower first costs.

A good way to ensure your building always has the most economically feasible efficient equipment is to encourage your purchasing department to work with your building energy managers to create a comprehensive plan. Together, these two groups can create an energy efficiency purchasing policy that ensures operational costs are considered for every new equipment purchase. Such a policy can outline the important considerations for your business, such as payback periods, return on investment percentages, benefit-to-cost ratio or other metrics. It can even specify certain eco-labels, such as ENERGY STAR or Water Sense, that equipment should have to certify it energy performance level. Having an energy efficiency purchasing policy in place will ensure all parties involved with purchasing decisions are on the same page in terms of what level of energy performance should be expected from various equipment purchases. Planning for big capital, future purchases with energy efficiency in mind will help your business save money on operational costs and be more sustainable in terms of both environmental stewardship and financial stewardship.

Are you interested in developing an energy efficiency capital plan for your company’s sustainable growth? Contact the energy efficiency team of Energy Sciences to find out how to get started.