Facing Down the Challenges
Integrated service firms have a number of challenges when trying to combine design-build strategies with utility and maintenance services. To begin with, these firms look to fix energy cost for extended periods of time. Energy being a commodity, it is sometimes a risky...
Anil Ahuja, P.E., Exelon Services, Westchester, Ill.
Integrated service firms have a number of challenges when trying to combine design-build strategies with utility and maintenance services.
To begin with, these firms look to fix energy cost for extended periods of time. Energy being a commodity, it is sometimes a risky venture for the building service provider. But by correctly predicting and managing the following specific energy risks, providers can make wise business decisions on:
Energy-commodity supply price.
Operation and weather.
Through traditional commodity agreements, the integrated building-services provider can fix a client's energy price for a certain quantity of energy consumption, track its energy price to an index or discount its price from an established rate. Buying into future energy service, the provider can mitigate the risk of market volatility. By profiling the customer's usage and energy marketplace, the integrated-service provider can create additional margin through improving the energy-procurement process.
In existing buildings through active monitoring, analysis, design and implementation of energy-infrastructure changes the service provider can advise and assist owners in managing energy through energy-usage profiles. Incorporating distributed-generation or power-quality products into a client's facility can provide not only outage protection, but also energy-cost management through peak-demand-shaving opportunities.
Traditional energy procurement takes energy consumption as a given. Through the use of distributed generation and mutually agreed monitoring and control, integrated services can manage a facility's energy consumption. By modifying consumption characteristics, service providers can create a consumption profile that is less expensive to supply.
By taking ownership of the long-term impact of the energy cash flow, an integrated service provider can maximize the client's energy purchases.
Through load profiling and understanding a client's operation, an integrated services firm can also identify applications of new technologies, develop solutions to end-user problems and uncover other ways to reduce delivery costs. Thus, the close relationship created by the building services provides the opportunity for creating value that a traditional buyer-supplier relationship does not foster.
In addition, integrated service firms search for ways to eliminate a facility's downtime. Equipment failures impact process and productivity, and unexpected failures put strain on capital and maintenance budgets. Implementation of preventive maintenance is the first step toward eliminating unexpected downtime and maintenance expenses. An integrated building-services firm can extend this concept through a full-service agreement that incorporates scheduled testing and preventive and emergency maintenance, and can help clients with the elimination of unbudgeted downtime and maintenance costs. Fixed operating expenses minimize administration and cash-flow variability problems.