I was asked about prospects who say “no” to efficiency because of a misplaced emphasis on energy compliance. Their specific question was, “How do you convince a prospect to explore and invest in efficiency when their boss is just preoccupied with meeting local energy-efficiency benchmarking requirements?”
Here’s my advice.
- You need to remind your customers that it’s much easier to attain benchmarking compliance when there isn’t a collective rush to the doors.For example, in California there are benchmarking requirements, and whenever those deadlines come up there is a mad dash to get them done. Many find it challenging to find a specialist to help them out. So, why not get it done when there isn’t so much competition for technical support and a hard deadline to meet?
- It is dependent on how you choose to frame those regulatory requirements as a sales professional. Ideally, you’ll want to reframe energy codes and benchmarking requirements as things that help not only the grid but also the building owner/operator. There are reasons for these requirements, and if you’re lucky, at least one of them overlaps with your prospect’s values. Some businesses say, “I’m not going to benchmark anything until they force me to do so.” The analogy that always comes to my mind is, “If you were a diabetic, would you wait until they made it a law that you had to test your blood sugar levels? Or would you test yourself every day to make sure you stay safe?” Over my nearly 30-year career in energy, I’ve seen countless examples of “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Once a building is “forced” to benchmark itself, its owners and managers (and in some cases, occupants) become acutely aware of major energy inefficiencies. Once they realize how much energy (and money) they’ve been wasting, many smack their foreheads and wonder aloud why they hadn’t marshalled the resolve to address this issue sooner.
- Benchmarking activities may reveal hidden problems that aren’t even related to efficiency.Decades ago, I worked with a building on the East Coast that had never used the EPA’s Portfolio Manager benchmarking tool. Why? Because it wasn’t mandatory. They finally agreed to give it a try, and as they were compiling their utility bills tenant-by-tenant in preparation for doing the benchmarking exercise, they saw a strange anomaly in the metering reports. Apparently, when a certain large tenant finally vacated the property at the end of their five-year lease, the building’s energy bill went down by three times the amount the tenant had been paying on their submeter. An investigation revealed that the tenant had three-phase power, and that the person who had installed submetering inputs on the three phases had installed one of them backwards, which caused the current measured on one phase to cancel out the current measured on a second phase. Alas, only the third phase had been measured all this time, and the tenant’s utility bill was only a third of what it should have been since the beginning of their lease!
Remember, you can’t manage what you don’t measure, so waiting for a regulatory requirement to measure your building’s energy use is just plain foolish.