How to Avoid Overengineering Your Energy Solution

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When you're thinking about a facility upgrade, one of the most difficult steps is defining the scope. You want to match the solution to the goal — not to overachieve it, not to under-achieve it.

Overengineering is adding more features or functionality than you could reasonably benefit from — like a car that can go 200 mph when what you need is a vehicle that will reliably get you to the store and back.

Here are five ways to right-size your project and avoid the pitfalls of overengineering.

5 Steps to Avoid Overengineering

Engineers discussing in a facility

1. Define and understand the problem

It all starts with the consultation moment, providing answers to a series of questions. What is the problem you are trying to solve? Why? What are the constraints? How much energy and money are you trying to save?

The answer to these questions will help establish priorities and create a customized solution.

Large well-lit warehouse

2. Evaluate all related systems

The next step is to work with specialists who will evaluate the situation and offer solutions in greater detail. This is a comprehensive survey of your project based on your goals and budget. This step digs into the technical details and sets the tone of the entire project.

A good example is an investment-grade lighting audit, which not only considers lighting needs but also fixtures, lighting position, color temperature and networked controls.

This step establishes a baseline on everything from energy consumption to expected return on investment. It’s an important moment to decide what’s included — and just as importantly, what’s not.

Worker using laptop in facility

3. Get educated

Now it’s time to add up all the possible elements of your project and decide what makes sense in the long run. A project can be overengineered or under engineered. You want it to be appropriately engineered — and the right partner can help.

Here’s a good example from a lighting upgrade project in an office space. You could add a control node to every fixture, but do you need to? Generally, most people use their office lights in groups that they want either on or off. Instead of one node on every fixture, you could control groups of fixtures with a single node. This allows you to reduce the number of nodes drastically.

Person with notes using calculator

4. Focus on value

One of the ways to do this is to find a partner who is “customer-centric,” meaning they always choose the product or service that fits the customer’s needs over a specific manufacturer or supplier. That means focusing on the right product for the situation to give you the most energy savings and the highest return on investment.

A metering project is a good way to explain this phase of the process. A knowledgeable partner will look at metering projects from a high level. Specialists will look at all of the circuits and see which circuits are actually an issue. If you’ve got 24 circuits on a power panel and 20 of those are consuming very low amounts of electricity, but four of them are clearly some of your biggest consumption points, an experienced specialist will focus on those four circuits.

That's value engineering — the ability to leave something out while remaining focused on what’s needed to solve the problem.

Man and woman discussing in an office

5. Look for a partner who provides a great customer experience

Every step in the process is an opportunity for things to go right — or wrong. You should look for a partner that makes your job easier, ensures all aspects of the project are addressed, and supports you through every step.

Excellent customer experience is what will make you remember a project. It’s also what will make you recommend a service provider to someone else.

One commercial real estate and property management company in the Northeast can speak to that point. This project was a full facility lighting upgrade done by WESCO Energy Solutions. The client asked to make the existing system of assorted light sources and fixtures more uniform and more efficient for future tenants. The results were impressive. Photometric modeling was used to calculate the number of lights needed, exterior and egress lighting was redesigned to meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requirements, and the project created annual energy savings of almost $34,000, all while reducing the number of fixtures from 700 to 200.

Taking the Next Step

If you’re looking for a partner on your next project, WESCO Energy Solutions can help. We take pride in a culture of excellence that comes from our focus on value. That’s how we build long-term relationships and become trusted partners.

 

Learn more to avoid overengineering your energy solution