Skip to main content

Energy Sense


Despite the ongoing emphasis on energy conservation, many retailers still underestimate the benefits of energy-efficient products and systems. David Ely, of EDSS, told Chain Store Age that reducing energy and carbon emissions is only going to become more important as cities address energy at the local level and regulations become increasingly strict.

Are there still incentives and rebates for energy-efficiency solutions?

There are many incentives offered at the federal, state and local levels for energy-efficient design — including state and utility rebates; state programs, including property or payroll tax incentives; and such federal tax incentives as the 179D Tax Deduction.

There are even federal and state grants available for eligible energy projects and upgrades that increase energy efficiency, with new funding just announced for solar and carbon reduction projects. Most people don’t realize how much money they are leaving behind on their efficiency projects; combined, these incentives can sometimes pay up to 70% of your upgrade costs.

Does the Energy Policy Act of 2005 still hold savings for retailers?

The Energy Policy Act (EPAct) allows up to $1.80 per square foot in tax deductions for eligible projects that improve building envelope, lighting, and heating and cooling systems. It currently allows deductions on buildings constructed or remodeled through the end of 2014. The deduction can be claimed on your current tax years rather than amending your previous returns. We expect that EPAct will be extended through the end of 2016.

What can retailers do to address climate change?

People are starting to pay close attention to climate change, especially at the city and state level. Under the final version of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan announced in August, states will have to meet increasingly rigorous carbon emission standards, and businesses will come under pressure to evaluate and reduce both consumption and emissions.

California already uses a cap and trade policy established through AB 32, and other similar programs are sure to follow. Many cities, like those collected in the C40 and R20 groups, are instituting their own goals and policies to address their municipal environmental impact. More and more businesses will need to audit their facilities for energy usage and track their carbon emissions in order to meet these new local and state expectations.

Conservation consulting services like those offered by EDSS can help businesses take necessary steps to comply with new regulations by evaluating their current facilities, identifying necessary changes and tracking the results.

Tell us about the history of EDSS.

After more than 30 years in the lighting design and supply industry, I partnered with my wife Dawn to cofound EDSS in 2007. We realized that our clients needed more than new light fixtures — they also needed full-building solutions that addressed all dimensions of energy use. But many didn’t know how to navigate the incentives for sustainable building practices. We decided to remove the guesswork for them and offer turnkey solutions with EDSS.

We partnered my design experience with Dawn’s business management expertise to develop EDSS’s holistic sustainability consulting programs. We have evolved into a national authority on commercial energy efficiency as our company brings comprehensive resource conservation services and the full range of available incentives to our clients.

How does EDSS help retailers when it comes to saving energy?

We would examine the retailer’s energy profile and usage history and provide solutions that align with its energy goals to reduce their operating cost and carbon footprint. Our in-house engineers will audit the lighting, mechanical, and water systems of stores, distribution centers and corporate offices. Our energy department will identify both quick usage changes to existing infrastructure and low-cost upgrades with a payback time of less than two years.

Also, we can help address new climate change policies by tracking carbon emissions, and we can work with you to create Energy Star benchmarking, which details energy usage, evaluates deficiencies and establishes goals to reach those benchmarks.

We offer the option of upgrading your current lighting fixtures from our supply, and we can recommend long-term, investment-grade changes to lighting, mechanical, and water systems that will reduce your carbon emissions and make sure your facilities function as efficiently as possible.

Can EDSS offer help with solar energy?

Definitely. We use a nice line of solar lights for a variety of outdoor applications, and we can also provide solar-integrated signs that help power themselves. There are significant grant opportunities for solar projects, and our in-house grant writing team can connect you to those resources. We also recommend other renewable energy sources that can reduce carbon emissions and improve a retailer’s energy profile, such as wind and geothermal systems, which can be very effective.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds