Did you know spending money on new lighting can actually make you money?

TritonThanks to advanced lighting technologies such as LED technology, there has never been a better time to upgrade your facility or building and get it paid for by using other people’s money and the power of leverage while potentially putting cash in your company’s pocket immediately. High-efficiency upgrades can save your business lots of money while improving the light quality and output in your buildings. Businesses both large and small are eligible for commercial lighting rebates regardless of the size of the upgrade … up to 40% in rebates in many cases! When the project is financed, the savings should more than cover the payments with some cash left over compared to what was budgeted for those higher energy bills. Lighting upgrades and retrofits present the easiest opportunities for organizations to make dramatic, long-lasting improvements in efficiency, especially during these times of fiscal uncertainty. Energy cost reductions make huge differences in a company’s bottom line. After payroll, energy is part of the largest operating costs for most business operations.

According to North Chamber member, Dr. Edward Sakiewicz, President & Managing Partner of Triton Energy Solutions, “Lighting expenses account for at least 43% of a company’s energy expenses. It is our job to educate decision makers about the government incentives that are now available that will not only help reduce their energy consumption, but motivate them to get their projects done now while incentives and rebates are still available. It’s all about illumi­nating their businesses and their bottom line.” So if you could have an opportunity to retrofit and/or upgrade your lighting system for $50,000.00, for example, then get 40% back through rebates, then add in tax incentives where applicable, while saving anywhere from 50%-80% on your monthly energy bill, is that a financial no-brainer, or what?

Companies today are getting more and more pressure to become more sustainable and green-conscious by adopting more energy-efficient methods of operating their enterprises. Triton Energy So­lutions predicts new standards will continue to be raised, but warns that available rebates and other incentives are significantly decreasing every year. In fact, the signs are already here where locally, rebates were up to 75% on lighting just a couple of years ago. Now, in 2013, it has dropped significantly to 40% or less. Jennyfer Sakiewicz, Chief Operating Officer & Managing Partner states, “We’re committed to keeping abreast of those standards so that we can educate and alert our customers to these facts and lead the marketplace with the best products, systems and services available”.

So don’t wait …get your rebate! Call Triton Energy Solutions today for a FREE, no-obligation energy audit at 210/735-4866 and let us illuminate your bottom line.

CPS Energy’s Demand Response program savings surprises customers

cps energy logoWhen CPS Energy approached Doyle Jennings of Oak Hills Church three years ago about participating in the utility’s Demand Response program, he thought it was possible that the church’s largest building would be able to shed 100kw of power when demand on the grid was highest.

“Turns out, we were able to save 300kw,” said Jennings, the church’s plant engineer. Last summer, they saved more than 500kw.

The changes Jennings made were relatively minor — he turned off certain fans and bumped the temperature up a couple degrees on those afternoons when CPS Energy called for a reduction. The changes cost him nothing.

CPS Doyle Jennings

At first, church staff was skeptical. They worried about the impact on congregants — would they be uncomfortable?

Then staff saw its first annual refund check.

“They realized it was pretty good income for the church,” said Jennings, who estimated the refund to be about $30,000 for each of the last two years.

Jennings also learned how to tweak his system so it wouldn’t impact those using the building.

That’s been key to convincing local business, industry and building managers to sign up for CPS Energy’s Demand Response program, says Rick Luna, CPS Energy’s manager of demand management and analysis.

“We show businesses ways to reduce demand that won’t hurt the business, or their customers,” he said.

Demand response, or asking certain customers to voluntarily reduce consumption at critical times in exchange for a utility bill credit or rebate, is becoming an important component of electrical grid management, especially as Texas faces ever-hotter summers and a shrinking cushion of excess power.

In general, CPS Energy has plenty of capacity — that is, enough power plants to meet the community’s demand for electricity. But on the very hottest days, demand can peak to levels that require firing up expensive gas “peaker” plants.

Paying certain businesses to cut back for a few critical hours several times a summer costs far less than firing up peaker plants, says Luna.

Demand response is part of CPS Energy’s larger strategy for reducing demand by 771 MW to avoid building another power plant — because the cheapest power by far is the power that isn’t used.

The program began in 2009 and now includes dozens of large and mid-sized companies, including hotels, government buildings, medical facilities, public agencies, churches and office buildings.

Sally Flanagan, senior property manager with Endura Advisory Group, says she’s “extremely pleased” with the rebates she’s earned for making two simple changes to the SWBC Tower building – running fans at half speed and turning off all but emergency lighting in the parking garage.

The changes didn’t cost her a dime, and they didn’t impact tenants, she says.

“We’ve gotten no more ‘hot calls’ than usual” in the three years they’ve been participating, Flanagan said.

Not all of Flanagan’s buildings have achieved such positive results; she’s hoping additional changes will increase success at the San Pedro Plaza building this summer.

Some buildings and businesses are more suited to the program than others, said Luna. The threshold for participation is a 50kw reduction.

Once a business has indicated interest, he said, a demand response curtailment audit is done to determine if that savings can be met.

Bexar County recently received a rebate check for $23,000, said Division Chief Jose Torralva, for reducing power at the Paul Elizondo Tower, the Vista Verde building, the jail and its annex and the juvenile detention center on 17 afternoons last summer.

“It’s just good for the community,” said Torralva.

The success of CPS Energy’s demand response program was highlighted recently by the federal government, which has its own demand response goals.

CEO Doyle Beneby was invited to take part in a discussion this week, hosted by the White House Council on Environmental Quality which brought together leaders from government, the private sector, non-profits and academia that looked at current best practices for reducing peak demand and identified new ways to do so.

Not only do customers save money, Beneby told the panel, but demand response also reduces stress on the utility’s assets, saving on capital costs over time.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which operates the state’s electrical grid, also uses demand response, although in a slightly different form. Doing so has increased grid reliability, says Paul Wattles, a senior analyst with ERCOT.

“It’s been a very effective tool,” said Wattles.

CPS Energy and other power entities are now working with ERCOT to expand the grid’s ability to use peak demand reduction from an aggregation of customers, much as CPS Energy already does.

Meanwhile, CPS Energy continue to seek new businesses locally to enroll in the program. Those already enrolled, once they get a better understanding of how to save energy and money, tend to seek out additional savings.

The county’s Torralva said this summer it would incorporate energy saving measures even in buildings that aren’t part of the program, because they’re proven to save money without impacting comfort.

Jennings, of Oak Hills Church recently upgraded the lighting in the dozens of required EXIT signs on the church campus as part of a larger lighting retrofit.

By replacing two 7-watt incandescent bulbs with one half-watt LED in about 60 signs, which by law must remain illuminated 24/7, Jennings calculated the church would save more than $13,000 over 20 years.

Oak Hills Church plant engineer Doyle Jennings calculated a $13,000 savings over 20 years just replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs in the church EXIT signs.

“That doesn’t include factoring in the longer life of the LED lights or labor,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it when I calculated it.”

Read CPS Energy Blog

SpawGlass Leading the Way in Sustainability

60th LogoSpawGlass is dedicated to building a greener tomorrow by incorporating eco-friendlybusiness practices into our day-to day operations and into every project we construct. We show sustainable stewardship through recycling, waste prevention, purchasing recycled content products and energy and water conservation.

Our dedication to sustainability was recognized in 2011 when SpawGlass became a Certified Green Contractor through Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). This certification was awarded to us from ABC’s National Green Building Committee only after we had met stringent application requirements, including conducting sustainability training for our team members.

With many LEED Accredited Professionals, the SpawGlass team is well-versed on the ins and outs of earning points to achieve LEED certification on our projects. In fact, in some instances, our team members have been able to identify opportunities to earn additional points to surpass the certification level designated for projects. In the past few months, three SpawGlass projects, originally slated for LEED Silver Certification, have been awarded LEED Gold Certification:

  • GVEC Western Operations Center – Seguin, TX
  • Texas State Technical College Harlingen University Center – Harlingen, TX
  • The University of Texas at Austin Student Activity Center/Liberal Arts Building Phase I – Austin, TX

In addition to incorporating “green” practices at our regional offices and jobsites, SpawGlass has gone a step further by promoting sustainable building components, whether we are the prime or specialty contractor on a project. Joe Clepper, a 25-year veteran of SpawGlass, and David Reynolds, who has spent the past 15 years identifying and implementing ecofriendly construction practices, are leading the charge for SpawGlass’s newest division – Sustainable Construction Solutions (SCS).

PrintThe goal of SCS is to address the economic and environmental factors affecting the construction industry. One of the methods SCS will promote to architects in the design stage of projects is the use of insulated concrete forms (ICF). ICFs offer many benefits to our clients, including lower energy costs, safety assurance in areas where strong winds are prevalent and mold resistance.

ICF_Cover_Story_small_file“ICFs are only one of the systems we are pursuing,” said Joe Clepper. “David and I are meeting with architects, distributors and contractors about the sustainable construction systems available and what the short-term and long-term benefits are to our clients.”

SCS recently began its first project, a net-zero control building for the SpawGlass design/build George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) Central Plant Phase II and III project. After witnessing the advantages of ICF construction first-hand on the Vidor City Hall project, especially from a sustainability standpoint, Project Executive Brian Emerson promoted the use of ICF on the IAH project as a method of achieving LEED Platinum certification.

One thing is certain – adopting sustainable practices ultimately benefits our entire community. If we think, build and live green, the benefits will be enjoyed for generations to come.

Volunteer Spotlight: Sustainability eNews

Segura_OrlandoOrlando Segura
Jackson Walker, LLP

About the Company: Jackson Walker is a full-service law firm supporting local businesses in achieving their goals. Their San Antonio office has experience in corporate, labor and employment, real estate, energy, banking and finance, intellectual property, bankruptcy and collections, international relationships and litigation.

About the Program: The Sustainability e-newsletter presents articles on the depth and breadth of sustainability issues that inform and educate our readership for the purpose of increasing community awareness.

Personally Speaking: Orlando has been involved with the North Chamber through the Lead SA Sustainability Series since 2011. He says he’s always been interested in issues of sustainability and economic development, and this initiative gives him the chance to meet business leaders, educators and public servants who are equally passionate about these topics. “There is so much potential for innovation in sustainable business practices – from energy efficiency and water conservation to renewable power generation and beyond, and our community is at the forefront of these developments. I want to be a part of the sustainable transformation in San Antonio,” says Orlando.

Volunteer Spotlight: Sustainability Series

Facey_JohnJohn Facey
UTSA Institute for Economic Development

About the Company: The Institute assists communities and businesses from conception to startup and expansion with a broad array of advising and research services. These services are provided by 11 centers of excellence located at UTSA’s downtown campus. The Institute’s services have an international reach, but are most heavily focused upon national, regional and local communities and businesses.

About the Program: The SustainAbility program is a three-part series designed to work with the business community to preserve the future by focusing on commercial and practical sustainability awareness and programs that can be implemented in businesses. Proceeds from this series benefit Lead SA, the North Chamber’s 501 (c)(3) organization that serves to promote educational, career and professional development in San Antonio.

Personally Speaking: UTSA has been a Chamber member for many years. John has been on the SustainAbility committee since 2011 and served as co-chair in 2012. John says the committee’s programming adopts a very pragmatic approach in presenting sustainability topics to the business community with the key theme being the many ways sustainability can improve the bottom line of a business.

RABA KISTNER, Inc. Announces Leadership Changes

CS & PL at RK Home OfficeThe Board of Directors of RABA KISTNER, Inc. today announced that as of January 1, 2013, Chris Schultz, PE, PMP and Paul Lampe have accepted co-leadership of RABA KISTNER Consultants, Inc., one of its wholly-owned subsidiaries.

PortraitsChris Schultz, PE, who has been with RABA KISTNER Consultants since 1990, has been promoted to President and Chief Operating Officer of Consultants.  Schultz has been Senior Vice President since 2004 and will continue to act as Practice Leader for Geotechnical engineering.

“Paul and I have a lot of our time, heart and energy invested in this company,” said Schultz, “We know that we are taking over leadership of an exceptionally dedicated group of employees. This staff has long served a diverse group of clients who are interested in delivering a quality product to their own customers – whether employees, tenants or members of the public.  We look forward to working with the Raba Kistner Consultants team to strengthen our relationships with those clients.

“The Design and Construction Industry is changing, particularly with regard to project delivery methods, that will require our Company to adapt the way we provide our services.  However, one thing that cannot change is providing value for our clients through those services in a responsive manner.  We will continue this longstanding Raba Kistner tradition,” finished Schultz.

Paul Lampe_High Res_ColorPaul Lampe, who has been with RABA KISTNER Consultants since 1981, will assume responsibilities as Executive Vice President. Lampe has been serving as Senior Vice President since 2004 and will continue to act as Practice Leader for Construction Materials engineering, testing and construction inspections.

“Chris and I have worked together at Raba Kistner for 22 years, providing services to both regional and San Antonio area clients,” said Lampe. We look forward to an expanded role in supporting operations and clients in all of our offices.

“One area that I really look forward to is working with our clients to use more recycled construction materials”, continued Lampe. “Raba Kistner Consultants, invested in this field over 10 years ago and I’m happy to say that with support from the LEED program, it is really becoming a preferred choice for new construction.” (For more information on this topic, see Paul’s recent article, dated December, 2012, Deconstruction LEEDS Owners to a More Successful Project).

“Chris Schultz and Paul Lampe, both Shareholders, have shown real commitment to RABA KISTNER Consultants for many years, responding to client needs, long term growth planning, staff development and industry leadership,” said William Raba, President of the holding company, RABA KISTNER, Inc. “This action is to support expanding the company’s reach and growing our staff and service capabilities over the coming years. “

Robert Costigan, Ph.D., PE, former President and COO of RABA KISTNER Consultants, has announced his retirement and has become a Senior Consultant to the company.

Founded in 1968, RABA KISTNER Inc., is an Engineering News-Record “Top 500 Firm,” operating in ten different markets in Texas, Utah, and México. RABA KISTNER Consultants, Inc., headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, provides project management and oversight services, including construction materials engineering, testing, and observation and geotechnical engineering, testing and pavement consulting. Other services provided by RABA KISTNER companies include environmental engineering and consulting, infrastructure oversight and quality management programs, and facilities assessment and rehabilitation.

Chairman’s Vision for 2013

Dahill, President
2013 North Chamber Chairman of the Board

An Ohio native, Brad Rollins relocated to San Antonio in 1999 and has embraced the community, serving professional and charitable organizations including the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, MS Society and many environmental and military causes. While encouraging community involvement throughout his organization, Brad is president of Dahill – one of Texas’ largest office technology providers, and in 2013, he will preside over the North Chamber and Lead SA board of directors serving nearly 1,400 member businesses across Bexar County. Guiding 500 employees in 16 offices in eight Texas cities and New Mexico, Brad fosters a creative environment that empowers employees to share ideas, identify solutions and lead. He says, “I am at home at the North Chamber where I feel that same sense of collaboration and the entrepreneurial spirit.”

A North Chamber member since 2001, Dahill recognized early on the value of the chamber environment and the opportunities it provides members to get involved and build relationships while working together for the good of the business community. “This chamber is much more personal,” says Brad, “We’re really a big chamber with a small town feel to it. When you take the time to be a part of it you can use chamber programs and benefits to build your business.”

In 2013, Brad will lead the North Chamber to concentrate on: encouraging members to do business with each other; emphasizing member benefits and social media; delivering leadership and professional development; and offering topical, timely and quality programs.

Buy Local. Buy North Chamber.
Passionate about bringing members together to do business with one another, Brad says his primary goal for 2013 is to promote a dynamic chamber of commerce. Brad envisions a localized economic recovery generated by and for North Chamber members. Plainly, says Brad, “Each of our member businesses needs to purchase to operate. If each of us commits to review our supplier lists, identify chamber members who meet those needs, and then buy and sell products and services with each other – that could have quite an impact on each of our businesses.”

Looking to capitalize on the North Chamber’s recent entrance into social media, Brad wants to enlist the social network to play a big role in a member-to-member commerce initiative. “Our members are increasingly interested in learning how to market their business with social media. In the New Year, the North Chamber will meet that need with informative instructional series and a ‘buy local, buy from North Chamber members’ initiative,” details Brad.

For a grassroots effort to work, Brad says North Chamber members have to get online, get engaged and use the tools the chamber has provided. “Make 2013 the year you commit to marketing your business through the North Chamber. Enlist your marketing folks to examine the online Marketing Toolkit, and find everything you need to access benefits like online directory search, social media engagement, offering member specials and promoting your business via North Chamber media.”

Leadership & Professional Development
Recognizing that many small to mid-size businesses don’t have access to internal professional development, Brad is dedicated to offering information, training and leadership development that provides professionals the skills they need to move to the next level. “Our business community wants a readied workforce and people who are prepared to lead. The North Chamber delivers a number of programs that do just that.”

Brad says Leadership Lab, the North Chamber’s nine-month leadership cultivation series, is the centerpiece of that effort. “I’ve observed people go through the program, and right away I could see a difference in how our employees perceive themselves. You can’t underestimate the value of feedback from people outside of your organization,” he adds.

Additionally, Brad is a proponent of the Small Business How 2, Sustainability and CFO Breakfast Series. “These programs not only offer small businesses specialized information, but also contribute to businesses’ operations and bottom line when instruction is applied,” he says.

Keeping Bexar County Strong
The North Chamber’s mission is to strengthen San Antonio through the delivery of advocacy, networking, recognition, leadership and professional development programs. “Overall, the North Chamber is committed to ensuring that we offer the most impactful programs,” says Brad. “So the North Chamber remains committed to monitoring government affairs and public policy issues that affect our members, connecting people to people, honoring our community’s leaders and bringing businesses the tools they need to advance,” he adds.

Finally, as a steward of the North Chamber, Brad has assembled a team of seasoned business leaders to guide the North Chamber in 2013. “As we embark on this New Year, I want to thank Larry Anthis and his board for the incredible, active and hands-on leadership in 2012, and I proudly assume the privilege of chairing this great organization,” says Brad. “I invite each of our members to embrace the concept of commerce among us, find an area of interest in the chamber and be a part of it. I want to thank each of our members for all of your support, attendance and volunteerism – and for all that you do to keep San Antonio and Bexar County strong.”

Word from the Chairman

After an early banking career in Dallas and more than a decade of service in the ministry, in 2006 Larry Anthis relocated his family to his hometown of San Antonio, re-entered banking and immersed himself in his community – including volunteering for the North Chamber. Today, Larry is a Vice President at Frost developing the Schertz market for the Texasbased bank and will serve as the North Chamber’s 2012 Chairman of the Board.

“At Frost, we hold entrepreneurialism, relationships and community in high regard,” says Larry, “and the North Chamber shares our values to help people build their business while being flexible and nimble to respond to a fluctuating business environment.”

For 38 years, the North Chamber has endeavored to offer an atmosphere of inclusiveness in which any member – regardless of company size or revenue, has access and the ability to make an impact on the community at a micro level. “The North Chamber’s milestones have been achieved by the actions of volunteers who worked together to affect change in the areas of education, infrastructure and quality of life,” says Larry, emphasizing that he will build upon such projects initiated by previous board chairs. “I am a steward of an ongoing legacy to build business and build leaders, but I also feel we are at the top of our game, and I’m challenging our chamber leadership to increase performance and build upon the chamber’s success,” he adds.

At a working retreat last year, the incoming board of directors evaluated the chamber’s values, deliverables and member needs, then developed a few concise objectives to help define the chamber’s course in a more strategic manner.

From the planning session emerged a consensus that the North Chamber consistently advocates for a pro-business agenda and offers a proven array of programs that provide leadership and professional development, networking and recognition for professionals at every age and stage of career development. “Members find a lot of value in our programs, so we won’t change what we deliver. We will continue to listen to our members and ask ourselves, ‘Does this benefit our members? Can we do it in an excellent way?’ And if a program isn’t meeting this criteria, then our members will dictate that we do something else, and that keeps us dynamic,” says Larry.

Furthermore, the board suggested a revised communication strategy in terms of becoming a more virtual chamber in a digital age. This year, the chamber plans to design and build a modernized marketing and communications infrastructure that better facilitates the flow of information between the chamber, its members and the community. “We are reimagining our connectivity to serve multiple audiences who are more reliant on mobile computing devices, smartphones, digital and social media and personalized content that is tailored to their interests,” explains Larry.

Engaging the millennial workforce was also a recognized challenge to member businesses. “Today’s workforce and employers have a unique set of needs and circumstances. In some cases it’s about training young professionals for the workforce and other times it’s training the employers about what Generation Y needs,” says Larry. “Companies are employing these folks and want to keep them retained, and we’re offering solutions among others, like Leadership Lab and the Enterprising Women’s Conference, that help the business community cultivate a more skilled and empowered workforce,” he adds.

The North Chamber understands that small business members require particular focus as they seek resources and value for their organizations, thus will continue to deliver specialized programming like the How 2 instructional seminars and Sustainability Series, as well as financial and technology related programming. “The men and women who put it on the line every day in their businesses are taking the risks to help grow this economy,” says Larry. “They are largely represented within the North Chamber, and in us they have a voice and an advocate.”

Additionally, the North Chamber will work to bolster the return on investment for its members through an individualized effort to get more people involved and engaged via volunteerism. “We know that service hours and financial involvement are the keys to realizing a return on membership investment,” says Larry. As such, the chamber will aim to broaden the depth of member business participation by creating more than one touch point within member organizations, thereby increasing leadership opportunities to more professionals.

Finally, Larry feels that by optimizing the North Chamber’s offerings and operations, it will be positioned to deliver higher value to its membership. “By getting involved, our members use this chamber as a vehicle to work on their business. This is an ideal venue for professionals to demonstrate their expertise, position themselves as an authority in their community, grow their business and even cultivate employees,” says Larry. “I look forward to working with the membership and community to make 2012 a successful year.”