Don’t Swap Wives; Swap Energy Management Teams

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If you swap energy management teams with another business, just what will you learn?

In this podcast (click on the player above), Maria Vargas, director of the Better Buildings Challenge, describes what Whole Foods and Hilton Worldwide learned when they swapped energy management teams in San Francisco.

The program is roughly modeled after “Wife Swap,” a TV show in which families swap wives to learn how to be better parents.

You’d think that the respective teams would have energy efficiency covered, but lending a new set of eyes to the buildings led to unexpected discoveries. For example, the Hilton team discovered simple lighting changes that could yield impressive lighting savings for Whole Foods.

“Both organizations are doing a great job driving energy waste out of their holdings,” said Vargas. “They’ve used high-efficient lights,” for example, she said. One focus of discussion was using LEDs and daylighting.

Both teams found that focusing on “the human element” was crucial. For example, Hilton organizes weekly meetings with hundreds of housekeepers to discuss energy efficiency. And the business discussed how some employees disable energy-saving devices that are installed to automatically close walk-in refrigerator doors.

“The swap showed that no matter how great you are at something, you can still learn more,” said Vargas in the interview. The companies also learned the importance of businesses sharing information with companies that are very different than theirs, as in the Hilton Worldwide and Whole Foods example.

DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge director took part in the swap to offer advice, and the Better Buildings Challenge videotaped the event. The video footage will be released in DOE’s first web series on YouTube.

The Better Buildings program aims to give commercial and industrial building owners the tools they need to reduce their energy usage by at least 20 percent within 10 years.

You can watch the opening SWAP video here

“By reducing building energy use by 20 percent in both the commercial and industrial sectors, organizations can save about $80 billion annually and avoid significant emissions of CO2. In addition to cost savings and avoided emissions, upgrading these buildings offers an almost $100 billion investment opportunity,” said press materials from the challenge.

Follow Energy Efficiency Markets on Twitter @EfficiencyMkts.

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