Financing Measures

6 Steps for Businesses Planning an Energy Conservation Measures

By Al Gaspari

When considering an energy efficiency project, many California business owners and managers often face constraints on capital and time. It's important to have a proven energy efficiency plan to ensure that a project reaches completion and achieves a business's goals.

The six steps in this article are designed to help California business owners and managers plan successful investments in energy conservation measures. Energy conservation measures are the upgrades, retrofits, repairs and replacements that businesses can implement to become more energy efficient. These measures can significantly reduce operating costs while providing operational benefits by allowing businesses to replace old, outdated equipment.

Step 1: Energy baselining
A business's energy baseline is the current amount of energy that it uses, adjusted for the way the building operates today (internal factors) and variables that are out of the business's control that impact the amount of energy it consumes, such as weather and changes in energy rates (external factors). It is important that business owners or managers and their contractor accurately understand these factors and the impact on the business's baseline, since the baseline will be used to project the energy savings generated from the project.

California businesses can track their actual energy usage with helpful resources from PG&E. My Energy on is a tool that can help owners and managers map out an energy efficiency project and estimate savings.

Once business owners or managers have their actual energy usage, they can discuss the internal and external factors with their contractor and PG&E account representative. For instance, is the business planning to add or remove equipment or is it planning on increasing or decreasing operating hours? Are any commercial electricity rate increases planned? These internal and external factors need to be taken into consideration before any savings calculations can be made.

Step 2: Savings calculations
Once an energy baseline is established, it's time for the contractor to use that information to calculate savings from the energy conservation measures. The accuracy of your savings calculations will help guide the energy conservation measures that the business selects. These calculations should be properly calibrated to the business's energy usage baseline and reviewed for accuracy by a qualified professional.

Contractors will help business owners and managers identify the best energy efficiency solutions for their facility. There are many options available, so be sure to ask the contractor for guidance and to understand their internal practices to ensure accurate savings calculations. The Business Energy Checkup inside My Energy is another helpful resource that uses a business's energy input to provide tailored energy saving recommendations.

Step 3: Equipment selection
When evaluating equipment for a business's energy efficiency plan, consider all the benefits that can be achieved, including employee and customer comfort levels, higher productivity and long-term cost savings. Choosing the optimal equipment is actually a fairly simple process. Start by considering the business's energy efficiency goals and focus on areas that need an upgrade.

PG&E has a wide range of equipment eligible for rebates. This includes energy efficiency equipment for lighting, HVAC, boilers and water heating, refrigeration, food service, computing and other applications.

Step 4: Design, construction and verification
Now that the prep work is completed, it's time to design, install and verify that the energy conservation measures have been installed as designed. At this point the contractor will take a project from planning to installation. Business owners and managers will want to ensure that the installation is coordinated with operational needs, that local laws are complied with, and that the energy conservation measures are properly installed and working as intended.

Ensure that the contractor makes certain that permits are in place, because local governments often require them for building projects. Next, get a third party to review the construction. Examples include reviews provided through investor owned utility (IOU) rebate programs or those received in going through the permit process. Do not skip this step!

Step 5: Implement operations, maintenance and monitoring
Once an upgrade, retrofit, repair or replacement is complete, safeguard the return on investment by ensuring the equipment will operate efficiently over time. This includes making sure that equipment performance is monitored on an ongoing basis, routine maintenance is conducted and facility staff is trained on how the equipment operates.

Businesses should work with their contractor to establish a maintenance schedule for operating the equipment after the contractor leaves, including roles and responsibilities. If the contractor and the business's staff are not able to provide operations and maintenance service, PG&E has resources to help locate Energy Efficiency Program Partners. These professionals specialize in servicing the energy efficient equipment and systems that PG&E supports.

Step 6: Measurement and verification
A measurement and verification plan is essential for ensuring that the projected energy savings are realized. An effective measurement and verification plan should be agreed upon between the business owner or manager and the contractor. First, document the goals that the measures are designed to achieve, how progress will be monitored and how any issues will be resolved. Then identify any steps in the plan that may require participation from owners or employees to ensure the plan is workable around all schedules.

To learn more about the best energy efficiency plans and what resources are available to help California businesses along the way, download "Insider's Guide to Financing Energy Efficiency Projects from PG&E. Using this valuable guide can provide business owners and managers with the tools needed to implement successful energy efficiency initiatives.

Complete any energy conservation measure with the help of 6 simple steps:
  • SMB Blog Author
    Al Gaspari
    Principal Program Manager for Energy Efficiency Finance for PG&E. Oversees the On-Bill Financing (OBF) Revolving Loan Program, and the upcoming energy efficiency finance pilots, including the On-Bill Repayment option. Al works with PG&E’s Account Managers and Channel Partners to help customers overcome investment hurdles for energy efficiency. Formerly, Al was Finance Director for the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, a nonprofit that helped homes and businesses invest in energy efficiency, and a Senior Manager with KPMG LLP, advising large utilities, IPPs and industrial conglomerates. Al can be reached at

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