Lighting systems have long been a target for maintenance and engineering managers seeking to reduce the energy use in their institutional and commercial facilities. Lighting systems tend to be low-hanging fruit when it comes to energy-saving opportunities. New lighting technologies and fixture designs, as well as improved control systems, have combined to provide relatively quick paybacks while allowing managers to improve the quality of lighting.
But managers also have opportunities to improve the quality of lighting and reduce energy use and maintenance costs outside of facilities. Lighting systems for parking lots, walkways, signage, and façades all offer potential savings for managers who are willing to invest time and effort. Most exterior lighting systems in use today are more than 20 years old. Technology changes and improvements in light-source efficiencies offer managers the potential for reducing energy use and maintenance costs by 40 percent or more.
With such potential savings, the first impulse is to rush into a lighting retrofit program that simply replaces existing lamps and ballasts or the entire fixture with new, higher-efficiency products. While a one-for-one replacement program is quick and easy, it might not offer the best return, and it might not solve existing lighting issues. One-for-one replacement assumes an existing system is the ideal system for its application and that managers only need to upgrade fixture efficiencies.
If managers are to maximize an upgrade to an exterior lighting system, they must consider such issues as light distribution, glare control, color rendering, and time of operation. Lighting system upgrades need plans, and a plan starts with an audit of existing systems and issues.
Energy costs consume a major portion of every facilities budget. Recently a new law went into effect that could provide a tax break when energy management systems are installed in certain buildings.
The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, has been extended along with more than 50 expiring provisions of the tax code. The bill included a two-year extension of the Energy-Efficient Commercial Building Deduction, or section 179D of the tax code.
The owner of an eligible building can claim 179D and qualify for what can be a $1.80 per square foot tax deduction. Owners of these buildings can allocate the accrued tax savings to the businesses responsible for the energy-saving enhancements. In order for a building to qualify for the deduction, the energy based improvements must be made to either the HVAC, hot water or interior lighting systems or to the building’s envelope.
HOUSTON, Feb. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Near the end of last year, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, a broader, bipartisan tax bill that extended (and in certain instances, made permanent) over 50 expiring provisions of the tax code. Among a host of other pro-business tax provisions, the bill included a two-year extension of the Energy-Efficient Commercial Building Deduction, or section 179D of the tax code. alliantgroup applauds both the PATH Act’s extension and modification of section 179D, citing the tax deduction as not only a vital incentive for U.S. job creation and economic growth, but also as sound environmental policy.
“By extending 179D, Congress has done architects, engineers and contractors a major favor as we have seen firsthand how this incentive has helped companies expand both their workforce and the scope of their services,” said Dean Zerbe, alliantgroup National Managing Director and former Senior Counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee. “Not only is 179D critical to the success of U.S. designers and builders everywhere, it is simply just good tax policy, taking a completely technology neutral approach to incentivizing energy-efficiency.”
Section 179D was originally passed by Congress as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 in response to data from the U.S. Department of Energy showing that 73 percent of all electricity consumption was by buildings, with about half of that coming from commercial buildings. The owner of an eligible building can claim 179D, but in an effort to allow architects, engineers, construction companies and energy service providers to qualify for what can be a $1.80 per square foot tax deduction, section 179D allows eligible designers and builders to qualify through energy-efficient enhancements made to government-owned buildings at the federal, state or local levels. As government entities do not traditionally pay tax, the owners of these buildings can allocate the accrued tax savings to the business responsible for the energy-saving enhancements.
In order for a building to qualify for the deduction, the energy based improvements must be made to either the HVAC, hot water or interior lighting systems or to the building’s envelope. The PATH Act retroactively extends section 179D for 2015 and into 2016, but stipulates that buildings placed into service this year must meet ASHRAE 2007 standards as opposed to the old ASHRAE 2001 baseline. The bump up in the standard is a policy nod to modernizing energy-usage techniques and the need to raise the thresholds accordingly.
“The extension of 179D is tremendous news for our clients,” said alliantgroup Senior Managing Director Rizwan Virani. “Even with the higher baseline beginning in 2016, 179D will remain broadly applicable to architects, engineers and contractors across the country. The deduction will continue to provide these companies the funds necessary for broader reinvestment and will allow them to be more competitive not only in their bids, but serve to make them more competitive in the marketplace as a whole.”
Powerhouse is always seeking team members who embrace our core values of great service, honesty, integrity and making a positive impact on others’ lives. Our company is dynamic and growing, and we regularly post job openings nationwide. Below are our current positions open for application:
PROJECT MANAGER Overview: The Project Manager is responsible for overall management of the client relationship and the project from development and review of the estimate to project completion and closeout. Full job description HERE.
ASSISTANT PROJECT MANAGER Overview:The Assistant Project Manager assists in the implementation of the guidelines and requirements to complete a project within budget and time frame. Full job description HERE.
PROJECT COORDINATOR This position, under the supervision of the Project Manager(s), and in collaboration with the Assistant Project Manager(s) assists in the implementation of the guidelines and requirements to complete a project within budget and time frame. Overview: The Project Coordinator is responsible for working closely with the APM and PM assigned to specific projects to complete paperwork, processes and tracking duties. Full job description HERE.
CONSTRUCTION SUPERINTENDENT Powerhouse Retail Services is a progressive company looking for high energy, positive people! Attention to detail, ability to work as a team and a positive attitude are a must! May require work in the evening or overnight. Must be able to travel extensively. Experience in Retail/Restaurant Construction environment preferred. This is a hands-on position! Full job description HERE.
The more you linger…the more you buy. Great piece on the Today Show about holiday shopping trends. According to the Boston Consulting Group, 72% of millennials would rather spend their money on experience vs. product. Give them both & it’s a winning combination.
Henry Armour, NACS president and CEO, calls out global best practices, NACS programs and initiatives that help the industry address critical issues and opportunities.
LAS VEGAS – “We’ve been hard at work developing tools to help you defend and grow your businesses,” NACS President and CEO Henry Armour told attendees at the October 13 NACS Show general session.
He shared that NACS is improving the convenience retailing industry by scouting and sharing global best practices, developing programs for members to improve their operations and creating new initiatives to address critical issues and opportunities. He then outlined each of these areas, touching first on global best practices.
“To be successful you need to know what’s around the corner—whether that corner is down the street or on the other side of the world. There are no unique issues around world. Sure, each country is different, but those differences are simply the result of being in different phases in the issue life cycle,” he said, citing the following examples:
In Japan, technologies such as mobile payments are interwoven into the fabric of life and the shopping experience at a convenience store.
In Argentina, more than 60% of the transportation fuel is natural gas.
In Australia, not only is the cigarette category dark but all cigarette packages are the same plain green with brand names in the same black fonts.
“No matter what country you’re in, you can learn so much from looking at what’s happening around the world,” which is why attendees from more than 60 countries attend the NACS Show. This mindset is also why NACS has dramatically expanded its international portfolio to include Global State of the Industry reports, the February 2016 Global Forum in South Africa and the June 2016 NACS Insight Convenience Summit–Europe, which takes place in both Stockholm and London.
Second, Armour discussed the robust set of tools to help retailers refresh their offers and their image as part of the NACS reFresh initiative. These resources include:
How Stores Work: Addresses common industry issues to allow retailers to tell their stories in their communities.
“But we’re not leaving the re-imaging of our industry all up to you,” said Armour. “NACS has been aggressively spreading the good word about our industry—by expanding the partnerships and close ties we have with the most recognized and respected nutrition and community groups across the country and by telling our industry’s story to the media.”
And third, Armour highlighted the issues and opportunities facing the industry and how NACS is addressing them with the help of the association’s subsidiaries and affiliated organizations.
Fuels: Because convenience stores sell more than 80% of the gasoline in the United States, NACS founded the Fuels Institute two years ago to have a seat at the table for any discussion involving transportation fuels. “The Fuels Institute has—for really the first time ever—brought the diverse stakeholders from the transportation and fuels markets together: retailers, refiners, ethanol and natural gas producers, automobile manufacturers and even consumer advocates, to help identify transportation’s biggest issues—and create fact-based research to address them.”
Technology: Conexxus has been instrumental in bringing productivity-enhancing technology standards to the industry for over a decade. Most recently, Conexxus helped NACS design a modern electronic payroll card program that greatly simplifies the lives of many employees, while significantly reducing employer payroll processing costs.
Benchmarking tools: The CSX subsidiary is the engine behind the association’s first-in-class industry dataset that powers the annual NACS State of the Industry Summit and NACS’ dynamic benchmarking software. “It’s a great resource to help you improve your performance by benchmarking it against industry averages and the results of the top performers in the industry,” said Armour.
“But even with the best tools to run your business, to fight your existing and emerging competition and to ride the wave of innovation, there is one more enormous challenge to your business,” cautioned Armour. “And I would argue that it is the great one: the government. Of all the things we do at NACS, the one that is at the core of our existence, that we are most zealous about, is representing our industry’s interests in the legislative and regulatory arenas,” he said.
“This past year we aggressively fought on your behalf to bring reason to the confusing, costly and poorly designed menu-labeling requirement imposed on us by the Affordable Care Act,” said Armour. NACS and other allies were successful in introducing bipartisan congressional legislation that rectifies many of the flaws in the labeling requirements. “The end result was that the FDA was forced to pull back the regulations for further review and delayed their implementation for at least another year.”
NACS also is actively addressing the threat of online lottery sales. “We think that online lottery is a bad idea all around. It hurts the local stores that have effectively managed and grown the program for the past 50 years. And it creates a whole slew of new problems—from dubious controls on the age of purchasers to a great temptation to run up credit card debt in the pursuit of mega jackpots,” he said. “We are fighting this—as we do every issue—with passion and reason. You, too, can play a role. I urge every one of you to challenge your state lottery commissioners on why they want to move their sales online.”
Ending on a positive note, Armour said that passage of debit-fee reform (the Durbin Amendment) has saved c-store customers and the convenience and fuel retailing industry more than $400 million. “Those savings can pay your NACS dues not only for the rest of your lives but for those of your children’s, grandchildren’s and many generations beyond that. The value of NACS membership is awesome,” he said.