To help boost energy efficiency and cost savings among small businesses all while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) is joining forces with California utilities and local small business leaders throughout the state. This new partnership is launching Small Business Energy and Water Makeovers. Generous utility rebates are being offered to businesses in California who want to cut their energy and water bills. You can help to make sure that these benefits reach small businesses in your community.
What is a Small Business Energy and Water Makeover?
A group effort that quickly matches utility efficiency resources with small businesses seeking to reduce energy and water consumption and save money and local governments promoting resource efficiency, economic development and climate protection.
Who makes it happen?
A Small Business Energy and Water Makeover saves money, time and natural resources by forming a partnership of:
- a business association, such as a Business Improvement District (BID);
- the local city or county government and supporting elected officials; and
- the applicable electric, natural gas and water utilities serving the business district and the city or county.
The partnership relies upon the rapport of the business district leadership with its member small businesses to successfully reach out, educate and encourage business owners to sign-up for energy and water efficiency check-ups, or audits. The utilities support the process by providing clear information about the full range of energy and water conserving measures, rebates, and financing incentives available. With this information in hand, the business district leaders can walk their district, stop in at businesses, explain face-to-face the opportunity to save on utility bills, and develop a sign-up sheet of businesses interested in an energy and water audit. The consolidated list of “hot leads” directs utility-sponsored auditors to businesses wanting audits and most likely to elect to improve their energy and water efficiency. Not only can the utility use its program resources more effectively, but as more businesses participate, the neighborhood economy benefits and cost savings come faster!
Click to see a chart that provides an example step-by-step process for how to conduct a Small Business Energy and Water Makeover.
Who will benefit and how?
Business Improvement District (BID) – BID’s can use a Small Business Energy and Water Makeover to attract a wide range of energy and water utility rebates and incentives to their district. The makeover will result in focused dollar savings to individual members of the BID and, over time, provide a boost throughout the neighborhood. Businesses that save on utility bills may choose to invest in structural improvements, new hiring, and enhanced services. An Energy and Water Makeover can be especially attractive to a BID interested in promoting sustainability, green jobs and technology. Additionally, an Energy and Water Makeover may allow the BID to use the time and labor saving value of providing an organized list of “hot leads” to negotiate for lower-cost installation and further increase the cost savings to each participating member.
Business owner – With an energy makeover, the business owner can expect to be offered a customized set of energy and water saving options under the best available cost options. Some options will be no cost or very low cost. Others may be eligible for rebates and other incentives that can cover all or most of many out-of-pocket costs. Finally, the business may be offered low-cost financing options, such as on-bill financing, to reduce the stress of up-front expenditures.
Building owner – In the circumstance where the building is leased, the owner will benefit from lower operating costs to its tenant with the potential to pass these savings along, making lease payments that much easier. And, if the owner chooses to invest in structural efficiency improvements, such as a new or tuned-up heating and ventilation system, the comfort of the space to tenants should increase.
Energy and Water Utilities – Reaching the many diverse small businesses, spread throughout a service territory, can be both time and cost intensive. Utilities can rely upon a locally trusted business leader, such as a BID, to do the outreach. When a BID Director takes the initiative to contact their businesses one-by-one, they can create a consolidated list of members wanting audits, each primed to consider building improvements. The utility can use that list to focus its resources on actions that are highly likely to result in successful contacts. With an energy makeover, the utility should aim to provide each business owner a customized set of energy and water saving options under the best available cost and financing options offered by the utility.
City/County – Economic development and elected officials can promote Energy and Water Makeovers to increase small business receipt of utility energy and water efficiency benefits. By focusing resources and leadership on specific neighborhoods, local government can cause more and deeper efficiency improvements to benefit the economy, employment, and the environment. In many cases, small business energy and water makeovers will compliment other local government agendas, such as sustainability and climate action.
What do I need to do to get started?
If you are a:
City/County economic development leader – Work with your local electricity, natural gas and water utilities to define available energy and water rebate resources. Inform all of your community business leaders, for example, Business Improvement District Directors, about the value of assembling their members into a cost effective “bundle” of energy upgrade jobs. This way, many small jobs will compete with single large jobs (big box retail) for rebates and resources.
Business Improvement District Director – Contact the energy and water conservation managers within your area and ask for a list of all of the incentives they offer to small businesses, including no-cost and low-cost renovations options. Ask them about the value of a list of 20, 50 or 100 small businesses interested in an energy and water audit and cost effective renovations. Identify members who have already taken advantage of the incentives and are saving money on utility bills as an example for your other members. Assemble the list of options and local examples into a package and hand-deliver it to the businesses within your district. Post the information on your website. Encourage each business owner to join forces within the BID to bring energy and water saving programs to the community. Work with your utilities to host a comprehensive one week or one month effort to bring the cost saving renovations to your member businesses.
Utility energy efficiency program representative – Review the online materials for prior Small Business Energy Makeovers at CoolCalifonria.org (Please link to page). Check with the cities and counties within your territory and determine the number of BIDs and business membership totals for each. Assess available resources including the value of receiving a consolidated list of small business owners wanting utility efficiency services. Initiate discussions with the leadership of the districts and form partnerships to provide information, auditing and installation as quickly as possible.
Business owner – Meet with your BID Director or attend a regular meeting to present the Small Business Energy and Water Makeover concept for your area. Encourage your BID to set a meeting with your local utility energy and water efficiency staff to determine the mutual benefits of an Energy and Water Makeover. Work with the BID leadership to negotiate a streamlined energy renovation program to bring as many incentives to your area as quickly as possible.
Why is ARB supporting small business energy makeovers?
Providing energy efficiency services to small businesses is often time consuming and expensive because they are each unique and individually managed. For this reason, small businesses have, in general, received a smaller proportion of the energy upgrade incentives made available to commercial energy consumers. The Small Business Energy and Water Makeover is designed to form an effective new partnership to reduce the time and cost of connecting with small businesses, save each business money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the process. Some progress has already been made, but there are many more opportunities to increase energy efficiency in older existing buildings in ways that will save the occupants money and increase comfort and health in the process.