Energy efficiency and sustainability rank as key goals for most initial design meetings these days, and they’re not expected to be downgraded as priorities anytime soon. Just within the retrofit market, the amount spent on increasing system effectiveness and lowering energy usage is expected to increase from $161.2 billion in 2023 to $272.8 billion in 2032.

Designing a retrofit is already complicated, but the complexity intensifies further when the client requires strict sustainability benchmarks for energy efficiency or even a net-zero goal. While there are reliable and commonly used ways of increasing a building’s performance while decreasing its reliance on the grid, it’s often hard to keep up with all the newest innovations and performance testing for building products and systems. Trying to figure out if there’s a better way can consume a great deal of time.

Just like any other building retrofit team member who contributes a specialty, an energy-efficiency consultant from a utility partner like National Grid can play a key role in offering site- and climate-specific strategies that can save energy use and expense over time as well as reduce the initial investment with incentives and rebates.

“The incentives we receive from National Grid are important,” says Christian Guzman, assistant energy manager at Stony Brook University. “They allow us to reinvest in other projects, such as data analytics. This data helps us to monitor the energy usage and occupancy schedule of over 200 buildings on campus using a central metering system. By adjusting energy usage when a building is unoccupied, we can save approximately $10,000 a month.”

What is the goal of an energy expert?

The overarching goal of an energy-efficiency consultant is to help decrease costs and energy use while increasing sustainability. They help businesses across their region reach sustainability goals and create more energy-efficient environments by finding budget-friendly solutions through financial incentives.

For example, some of the energy-efficiency upgrades and programs National Grid experts recommend include high-efficiency heat pumps, heating equipment, efficient upgrades, building envelope improvements, lighting strategies, and electric vehicle charging programs.

How does an energy expert help?

An energy expert can help identify opportunities for increasing efficiency. For example, an energy-efficiency consultant from National Grid can help their customers with conducting on-site assessments, performing technical assistance, and finding financial incentives that offset the cost of energy-efficient upgrades and that are appropriate and beneficial to the specific project.

The help paid off for Karen Seward, director of energy management at Albany Medical Center. She set a goal of saving $1 million per year at the medical center. By working closely with commercial energy-efficient consultant Daniel Merrill from National Grid, they were able to pursue a variety of capital projects, including LED fixtures, steam traps, a chiller plant, and a variable-speed drive. “We have a team that I feel is solely dedicated to us even though they serve multiple other customers,” says Seward.

With the upgrades, Albany Medical Center has saved more than $1 million dollars each year through energy savings. Plus, they have received nearly $1.8 million in incentives from National Grid to help offset the initial investment cost.

By including a local energy efficiency expert in the initial design phase of a project, the options for energy and financial savings can grow and make a real difference with a client’s sustainability goals and bottom line. And while your clients may reap most of these rewards, loyal and happy clients are often the backbone of an architecture firm’s success.

Find technical assistance from a National Grid energy expert at NationalUS.com.