Making the case for a green investment is easier if you know money will come back to your building in terms of energy or water savings. Green upgrades offering a quick return on investment can be a better sell to management, too.
Here are four green investments that have the potential to offer a full ROI in three years or less:
Installing rain/moisture sensors or controllers prevent irrigation systems from watering when moisture isn’t needed (or during a rainstorm). You can find sensors that turn on or off based on whether it’s raining, or controllers that operate based on soil moisture levels. These sensors/controllers have been shown to save anywhere from 30 to 70 percent on water bills during the irrigation season, according to Water-Use It Wisely; rebates and incentives may be available for these sensors and controllers as well, depending on your region.
The U.S. Department of Energy says that less than 30 percent of commercial buildings have installed dimmers or sensors. According to Lutron, every dimmer saves 4 to 9 percent in electricity, even at the highest lighting levels. When lights are dimmed, even more electricity is saved. In fact, owners and facilities managers can expect to see a full ROI in two to three years with certain lighting upgrades, according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Many utilities across the country also offer rebates for lighting controls.
Although they require a big upfront investment, cogeneration systems efficiently use engines to generate electricity and usable heat. A hospital in Framingham, MA, installed a cogeneration system in 2009 and saved $125,000 in energy expenses annually. As a result, this cogeneration system paid for itself in two years. For this facility, the cogeneration system also provided the chance to sell $35,000 in renewable energy credits back to the federal government, providing additional savings. Rebates and incentives may be available in your area for cogeneration systems.
With new low-e window film that insulates window glass to offer year-round savings (keeping heat in during winter months and keeping heat out during summer months), building owners may see an ROI in under three years. And not only does window film save energy by reducing solar heat gain, but it also decreases HVAC load and can even reduce artificial lighting requirements by allowing blinds and shades to be opened during the day (they aren’t needed to reduce glare once film is installed). There are many utilities that offer rebates or incentives for window film installation; for a complete list, visit http://www.dsireusa.org/. If you don’t see a specific rebate for film for your utility, most offer ”custom rebates” for a product like film that can show calculated savings. In addition, residential installations may qualify for a tax incentive that was recently extended through 2013.
Have you implemented any of these green projects? Have you seen a quick ROI on other energy- or water-saving investments?