Smaller power bills with local software

E-bench could save $150,000 per year, university says

Massey University anticipates initial savings of $150,000 on its annual $4 million electricity bill by using a New Zealand-developed internet-based energy and utilities management product.

This has the potential to grow to 10% savings in some of the university’s older campuses, says Joe Hollander, Massey’s director of strategic facilities management.

E-Bench is the brainchild of Wellington company Energy and Technical Services (ETS), which is one of the 100 companies targeted by the ICT taskforce to achieve sales of $100 million by 2012.

ETL director Geoff Bennett says e-Bench was very much driven from an electrical point of view. It is unique in the world in that it does both benchmarking and simulation of core business activities in the same package, he says.

It checks invoices for errors or unexpected patterns of consumption and reports on progress toward meeting an organisation’s energy consumption and output goals.

Bennett says the adoption of sustainable practices makes good sense from a long-term perspective of the efficient use of limited resources, and can save a business or community money. “It can be extremely profitable,” he says.

“It’s no coincidence that companies in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index have outperformed the general market on a steady and continuous basis.”

Massey agreed to be a testbed for e-Bench in a pilot study two years ago.

“This year we are populating our database with energy information,” Hollander says.

The university is currently using two of the e-Bench modules: targeting and monitoring, and invoice tracking.

Hollander expects Massey will eventually use four or five modules, including meteorological and climate, and design capability.

The university has 623 buildings spread over six campuses. Hollander says the newer campus at Albany, which has been designed for some energy efficiency, may eventually achieve annual savings of around 5% but the older campuses could achieve 10% or more.

Hollander is president of the Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association of Australasia, which reports to its more than 800 members in Australasia, Singapore, Hong Kong and southern Africa on all facilities management activities and helps exchange best practice information.

ETL began in the electricity business securing supply contracts. Bennett says that led to the development of e-Bench, funded entirely from the original business.

The company has more than 400 clients in New Zealand, mainly in the public sector.

They pay for e-Bench based on a capped percentage of utility consumption, in dollar terms. The more electricity used, the more the organisation pays till the cap is reached.

e-Bench is in release 4.0. It is built on a Sybase database with a Java front end. ETL has only five fulltime staff and uses contractors to help with its development work.

It is in negotiation with a US company and, says Bennett, expects to export e-Bench next year, aiming particularly at the US market.

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