CASE STUDY: How a COSE Energy Audit Created Value (and Savings) for Christian Community School

The COSE/GCP Energy Team recently saved Christian Community School over $12,000 as a result of an audit of their building, a benefit of being a COSE/GCP member.

Wishing to maintain the longevity of their building, the administration at Christian Community School in Grafton recently engaged COSE/GCP’s Energy Team to perform an audit of the organization’s 45,920-square-foot facility (a $5,400 value, paid for by FirstEnergy and an exclusive benefit to COSE/GCP members).

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    The results of the audit identified significant savings for the 117-year-old structure by replacing the facility’s lighting system. Benefits of working with the Energy Team included:

    • reducing energy output by 65%;
    • capturing nearly $5,000 in cash rebates for the project;
    • saving $4,060 on loan interest for the project by reducing the interest rate with KeyBank. This created a cash-flow positive strategy to finance the new lighting system.
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    Click here to learn more about how Christian Community School leveraged more than $12,000 in total value through their partnership with our energy team.

    COSE/GCP’s Energy Team helps members effectively manage their energy use to achieve the maximum amount of savings and benefit to their respective organizations. Learn more about the work they do by clicking here. Or, contact the team directly via email at energy@gcpartnership.com or by phone at 216-592-2205.


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    Next up: Ask the Expert: How Can I Protect My Computer Network from Social Engineering?
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  • Ask the Expert: How Can I Protect My Computer Network from Social Engineering?

    “Malware and related IT security threats like Social Engineering — a popular way hackers gain access to a computer network and its sensitive data — continue to increase at alarming rates. It is imperative that businesses take the proper steps to combat these increasingly stealthy threats. 

    “Malware and related IT security threats like Social Engineering — a popular way hackers gain access to a computer network and its sensitive data — continue to increase at alarming rates. It is imperative that businesses take the proper steps to combat these increasingly stealthy threats.

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    “Access is often gained through personal e-mail or social networking accounts by enticing employees to click on a link or attachment with juicy tidbits on a current event or celebrity news item. Once an employee clicks on the link, it allows the hacker to load malware onto your network. Malware is malicious software that interferes with normal computer function and can send personal data about the user to unauthorized parties over the Internet.

    “I recommend implementing multiple layers of defense, kind of like speed bumps, to protect your network from hackers. Anti-virus software offers great protection, but it is just as important to implement strict policies and processes for your employees. Computers are assets of your company as much as a company car or machine tool, so the same rules should apply.

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    “A few safeguards to consider:

    • Educate employees on social engineering tactics and defensive measures.
    • Install anti-virus software, firewalls, and e-mail filters and update them regularly.
    • Set clear protocols on employee computer and technology usage, including rules on accessing personal e-mail and social networking sites. Include protocols in all security and operations manuals.
    • Employ a strict password policy that uses a combination of numbers, characters and capitalization and implement mandatory password changes every 60 to 90 days.

    “A full network security audit is also a wise investment to determine what products and processes to put in place to best reduce your vulnerability and protect your business.”

    Steve Giordano is president of TeamLogic IT.

    Want more expert advice? Check out COSE Expert Network, an online forum connecting business owners with creative solutions to the tough questions they face every day. 

    This article originally appeared in the January 12, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.

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    Next up: How can you look to the future without thinking about the Internet of Things?
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  • How can you look to the future without thinking about the Internet of Things?

    More often than not, our energy auditors find that most buildings we assess for energy conservation opportunities could easily benefit from the new technologies of advanced controls for lighting, HVAC, and general monitoring though building automation. We hear from the employees their area is too hot or too cold depending on the season and the building never seems to feel comfortable or balanced. On the other side is the employer who frequently finds the thermostat has been adjusted by the employees and they leave it set too warm or too cold overnight and the weekends. Can you relate?

    More often than not, our energy auditors find that most buildings we assess for energy conservation opportunities could easily benefit from the new technologies of advanced controls for lighting, HVAC, and general monitoring though building automation. We hear from the employees their area is too hot or too cold depending on the season and the building never seems to feel comfortable or balanced. On the other side is the employer who frequently finds the thermostat has been adjusted by the employees and they leave it set too warm or too cold overnight and the weekends. Can you relate? 

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    In a recent Deloitte survey of energy managers, 79% said their management team viewed energy management as essential in creating a competitive advantage for their organization in 2016. They have found reducing the cost of energy by even a small percentage can have a dramatic impact on their bottom line. Regardless of the size of your company or energy spend, making small to large improvements can mean dollars back in your pocket.   

    With wireless technology, cost effective solutions for controlling radiators and overall HVAC operations, building occupants and owners no longer need to suffer through the heating and cooling seasons. Wrapping up in a sweater or shawl in the middle of summer because your office feels like a meat freezer. Or in the middle of winter, when the temperature outside is 10 degrees below zero and you are wearing a sleeveless dress, losing the tie, and rolling up your sleeves. We can all relate. The implementation of advanced controls can save approximately 20% on energy consumption and are often eligible for valuable utility incentives. Not to mention, this also leads to happier, more comfortable employees who are more productive. 

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    Wireless technologies are here to stay and make buildings smarter.

    There are four key trends driving the integration of controls:

    • Energy efficiency.
    • User comfort.
    • Preventive maintenance.
    • Safety and security.

    The average building wastes 30% energy each year. That 30% could be dollars back in your bottom line and allocated toward additional energy conservation measures. Despite best intentions, employees are careless and often leave lights on (especially in infrequently trafficked areas such as restrooms, kitchen, storage areas) leave equipment running unnecessarily, tamper with the thermostat, etc. Wireless and battery-less controls for lights, HVAC and other systems can drastically reduce over energy consumption, thus reducing utilities bills.

    Curious to explore how your business can take advantage of these innovative technologies that makes financial sense?  Let the COSE Energy Team assess your building and propose some options. Don’t let your building get left behind the technology movement. 

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    Next up: How Does Leadership Affect Attracting and Retaining Talent?
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  • How Does Leadership Affect Attracting and Retaining Talent?

    Leadership can drastically impact the attraction and retention of employees, and there are many businesspeople we can look for case studies on leaders who have succeeded at the talent game.

    This is a great question isn’t it?

    Leadership can drastically impact the attraction and retention of employees, and there are many businesspeople we can look for case studies on leaders who have succeeded at the talent game.

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    The example I’d like to focus on Warren Buffet, American business magnate, investor and philanthropist.  While you don’t have to emulate him 100% (though wouldn’t be all love to achieve his net worth?) you should look to him as an example of an effective leader who works to find and retain the best talent for his many companies.

    Here are three reasons Warren Buffett achieves loyal employees.

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    1. Mr. Buffet doesn’t blame people for their mistakes, but instead applauds them for going after something they believed in, even if it didn’t work. What can your company take away from something like this? That you should let your associates use their talents for the best of the company. Give them guidance, but don’t tell them what to do or micromanage them. Let them learn from their mistakes so they can teach other best practices and mentor new hires. These practices will develop of culture of accountability for one another, similar to a family unit. When your employees feel like family, they will go the extra mile for you. Trust of this nature generates loyalty and commitment and reduces high turnover.

    2. Another great quality that Buffet exudes is  humble confidence. Despite being at the top of the hierarchy for most of his endeavors, he credits those around him for the success that was achieved. Being selfless toward employees is the best way to get your employees to work harder for you. When they feel like they are appreciated, they will continue to work hard to help you achieve the company’s goals. ,

    3. Lastly, Mr. Buffet is approachable and open to listening to others. Giving employees a forum to communicate openly and honestly will make them feel that their opinions are valued. This in return breeds loyalty and productivity. . Refusing to engage with your teams will only lead employees to feel like they aren’t a part of the overall mission and impact of the organization.

    Warren Buffet is just one of many other great leaders in our society, and I encourage you to think about ways you can enhance your own leadership skills. if you are a leader that’s recognized for allowing your people to think for themselves, giving credit where it’s due and empowering your  the employees to have a voice, they will be clamoring to come to your organization.  And when they do, they will never leave your side. 

    Reference: http://www.foxbusiness.com/business-leaders/2014/02/27/warren-buffetts-3-practices-that-attract-and-retain-top-talent/


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    Next up: How Green Leases Bring Sustainability and Cost Savings Together
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  • How Green Leases Bring Sustainability and Cost Savings Together

    Cleveland, July 30, 2015 – Green leases are increasingly being used by tenants, landlords, commercial real estate companies and others as a way to increase efficiency, bring down costs, and bolster building performance. A green lease encourages collaboration between landlords and tenants to take action to improve efficiency by including specific provisions that address energy efficiency and building environmental performance.

    Cleveland, July 30, 2015 – Green leases are increasingly being used by tenants, landlords, commercial real estate companies and others as a way to increase efficiency, bring down costs, and bolster building performance. A green lease encourages collaboration between landlords and tenants to take action to improve efficiency by including specific provisions that address energy efficiency and building environmental performance.

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    Factoring sustainability into an overall business strategy can have a dramatic impact on a company’s bottom line. Sustainability requirements in a lease can bring utility bills down by up to 51 cents per square foot. Further, energy consumption in an office building can be brought down by 11 percent to 22 percent.

    In much the same way members are assisted via business audits and gaining access to capital, COSE is leading the charge to uncover ways for members to realize savings through being more energy efficient.

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    Some examples of how sustainability measures can be implemented in a lease agreement include:

    • Limiting cleaning services to normal business hours in order to reduce a building’s operating hours.
    • Submetering individual spaces within a building so tenants can track energy use and only pay for what they use.
    • Installing advanced lighting controls and motion sensors increase lighting efficiency and allow more control over the brightness of the office.

    “Green leases just make business and economic sense,” says Nicole Stika, senior director, energy services at COSE. “When you put energy-saving language into a lease, you align the financial and environmental goals of both landlords and tenants. Green leases also link corporate social responsibility best practices to building energy performance while demonstrating to potential tenants and investors a commitment to superior operations, tenant satisfaction, and sustainability.”

    About COSE

    For more than 40 years, the Council of Smaller Enterprises has acted as a leading resource for small businesses. COSE’s solutions, resources and advocacy work are designed to help its members succeed – every day – because small business growth and success is the organization’s priority. 

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    Next up: How Mobile is Shaping Business
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  • How Mobile is Shaping Business

    Back in 2009, mobile devices accounted for 0.7% of all Internet traffic, according to data from We Are Social. Flash forward to today, and mobile traffic accounts for 38.6% of Web traffic. Needless to say, small business owners need to be aware of this growing trend because their customers are accessing information in a wholly different way, said Bob Coppedge, the CEO of Simplex-IT in Hudson. “You have to understand mobile is increasing,” he said during a recent COSE WebEd webinar.

    Back in 2009, mobile devices accounted for 0.7% of all Internet traffic, according to data from We Are Social. Flash forward to today, and mobile traffic accounts for 38.6% of Web traffic.

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    Needless to say, small business owners need to be aware of this growing trend because their customers are accessing information in a wholly different way, said Bob Coppedge, the CEO of Simplex-IT in Hudson. “You have to understand mobile is increasing,” he said during a recent COSE WebEd webinar.

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    It’s critical that entrepreneurs ensure their websites are mobile-friendly, that is, easily navigated on a smaller smartphone or tablet screen. Responsive design, which refers to the ability of a site to reorganize itself automatically based on the size of the screen, is one step owners should take when it comes to optimizing their mobile site.

    “You want to make sure people are able to do business as seamlessly as possible, but still secure,” he said.

    Mobile-friendly websites are important because customers are increasingly making purchases through their mobile devices. According to an August 2015 report from Internet Retailer, mobile represents 30% of all U.S. commerce. “Back in ’08 and ’09, people weren’t buying anything on mobile,” Coppedge said. 

    Beyond the commerce angle, mobile-friendly sites are important for another reason, Coppedge said. It’s another way to engage customers and other stakeholders. “You have to take mobile into account.”

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    Another way mobile is shaping the way companies do business is in how their employees are leveraging mobile devices. More and more employees are bringing their own devices to work and business owners need to account for that, he said.

    The challenge in this is how to manage the security aspect, Coppedge said.

    “If you do not provide devices, you are somewhat dependent on how secure those other folks are making their devices,” he said.

    One way to manage security is to implement a single sign on service. With employees having to juggle many different accounts and passwords for things such as social accounts, shipping services, etc., single sign on allows is a way to create an online database of all employees and their credentials. The single sign on service can be accessed directly through its own website, or can be loaded onto the employees’ phone as an app.

    At the end of the day whether its customer- or employee-facing, entrepreneurs should be clear about how mobile is interwoven into their business plan, Coppedge said.

    “You need to have a business strategy,” he said. “You have to align strategy with devices and the resources customers will be using.”

     

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