Car park management

Companies can pave the way to decarbonization, one step at a time

Tom Idle

Posted 16 hours ago. About 6 minutes to read.

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With a multitude of technologies and competing demands across all locations, decarbonization can be a complex challenge for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Taking a data-centric approach to creating an energy roadmap – and letting the data dictate what happens next – is key to supporting businesses through the process.

The path to a net-zero global economy requires an “unprecedented transformation” in the way energy is produced, transported and used. This is the point of view of International Energy Agency (OUCH) – whose
roadmap, released last year, set out a cost-effective and economically productive path to a world powered by renewable energy such as solar and wind, rather than fossil fuels. The vision includes a major effort to increase new solar photovoltaic installations to 630 gigawatts by 2030, equivalent to installing the largest solar park in the world every day. It requires a wind farm capacity of up to 390 gigawatts. This means increasing energy efficiency by 4% per year until 2030, about three times the average of the past two decades.

The activity of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 is crucial for companies to meet their decarbonization goals – and most will come from technologies readily available today. For companies, reducing GHG emissions is at the heart of any strong corporate sustainability strategy. Consumers, investors and employees are looking for companies and brands to take action.

However, with a multitude of technology options and competing demands between locations, the journey to net zero can be a complex challenge for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

“There’s still a misconception that sustainability is about putting giant solar panels on your roof or having wind power on the land next to your manufacturing plant,” says Chris KaiserDirector of Solution Sales at Shell Energy, which supports companies in improving their energy efficiency. “It’s about optimizing the use of clean energy on site; but it’s about much more than that,” he adds.

Lighting Solutions at Turnersville AutoMall

About 15 miles south of philadelphia cream is the Turnersville Mall — a 65-acre campus with nine car dealerships. Led by the Penske Automotive Group, the site includes 300,000 square feet of showrooms, service and office space. There’s even an on-site test track where customers can take their car out for a spin instead of hitting the road. From there, dealerships sell about 15,000 vehicles a year.

Like many businesses of a similar size, Turnersville has a large energy bill and associated carbon footprint that it strives to reduce. Along with its annual utility bill, the company also faced high costs to service, maintain and replace the 79 HVAC units installed on the roof between 2005 and 2008 to keep workers and customers comfortable while throughout the year.

“The other challenge we face as an industry is the fact that electric vehicle sales are increasing,” said the president of Turnersville. Peter Klein. “This wave is coming; and we felt the need to tighten our current energy footprint and prepare for the significant energy demand of electric vehicles.

Enter Shell Energy, which worked with Klein and the Turnersville AutoMall team to consider options for the campus — from HVAC and lighting upgrades to solar PV and backup generation, too. Determining which energy solutions would work best for the site, setting priorities and reducing energy expenses to near zero has been a collaborative process over the past 18 months.

“We had a lot of levers that could be flipped — from rooftop units to outdoor lighting,” Klein says. “So we sat down and frankly assessed the business case for each of the individual elements, looking at the things that could bring about the fastest improvement. This was identified as the HVAC program.

Energy data and understanding is crucial

First, an energy management system was installed to collect energy and performance data to help understand the status of existing HVAC units. This established a business case for phasing them out and moving to higher-efficiency rooftop units. Second, replacing outdoor lighting made business sense in terms of return on investment and ease of implementation.

“The Shell Energy team drew our attention to things that we hadn’t focused on,” admitted Klein. “We take care of customers and sell and service vehicles. Although we have a good installations team, HVAC and energy management are not our expertise. »

Taking a data-centric approach to creating an energy roadmap — and letting the data tell what happens next — is key to supporting companies like Penske Automotive. Installing an energy management system, for example, allows organizations to collect data on facility performance and use that data to make informed business decisions.

“In the case of Turnersville, we collected data for about 90 days and came back with critical information,” Kaiser says. All HVAC units at the site were classified as red, yellow and green: the red ones needed to be replaced immediately; yellow has had a bit more time and could potentially be fixed; and the greens were okay.

Proving the business case is important to gain internal buy-in from employees and senior management. But so does explaining how improvements will be made without disrupting the status quo. On-site retail operators, for example, ensure that customers are comfortable every day, especially in extreme temperatures. They had to be confident that the company’s plan to move from 79 aging HVAC units to 79 reliable, high-efficiency units would not decommission the assets preliminarily or prematurely. “There has been no setback when it comes to the HVAC process,” Klein said.

Big savings and a solid plan to go further

Having a solid plan in place to organize and sequence projects appropriately is also extremely important. It allows companies to budget correctly year after year and have a smoother OPEX cycle.

Upgrades already completed at the Turnersville AutoMall campus – including complete exterior lighting replacement and partial HVAC unit upgrade – have so far generated $45,000 in net savings and 19 .2% energy savings. This data will prove crucial as Klein and his team make further upgrades and will be particularly useful as the company prepares for the impact of electric vehicle charging – both for vehicle inventory electricity and customer comfort – on its energy costs in the near future. Shell Energy’s data and perspective on the best times of day and best days of the week to recharge will help Penske moderate any significant increases in energy consumption ahead.

Next, Turnersville’s energy retrofit roadmap navigates toward installing LED lighting in all of its indoor locations.

“We can take customers as far as they want – and we have many who aspire to net zero,” Kaiser says. “But our approach is to sit down, develop a roadmap, and start a journey in a very structured and sequential way. Yes, the sky is the limit. But often small but impactful projects can help organizations make a huge first step towards achieving the sustainability goals.

John Smith

The author John Smith