EERE Success Story — New Mexico’s Six Step Cycle for Energy Efficiency Upgrades

July 30, 2019

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Photos: Courtesy of the New Mexico State Energy Office
Photos: Courtesy of the New Mexico State Energy Office

Reducing energy waste in state facilities is critical to saving tax payer dollars and realizing significant cost savings for the state. The New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) saw an opportunity to reduce energy waste in General Service Department (GSD) buildings and streamline the approval process. With the assistance of a State Energy Program Competitive Award from the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the EMNRD created the Whole-Building Investments for Sustainable Efficiency (WISE) Program to help achieve its goal of improving energy efficiency in GSD buildings 20% by the year 2020, from a 2010 baseline.

The WISE Program outlines a six-step cycle for government building facility managers to accomplish energy efficiency improvements in their buildings:  

  1. Evaluate needs – create a prioritized list of buildings.
  2. Energy audits – perform investment grade audits on prioritized buildings.
  3. Financing – choose Clean Energy Revenue Bond program, Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC), or Capital Outlay process to finance projects.
  4. Implementation – GSD contractors install energy efficiency measures.
  5. Preventive Maintenance – obtain new equipment and systems to ensure energy efficiency measures have optimal performance.
  6. Continuous Commissioning – monitor energy consumption of the buildings.

In addition to streamlining the approval process for energy efficiency projects, the six-step cycle outlined by WISE helped prioritize energy efficiency measures through energy audits, connecting state facilities to existing financial mechanisms, and implementing and maintaining energy efficiency measures.

With the initial implementation of the WISE Program, EMNRD achieved 21.5% energy savings, which exceeded the original goal of 20% by 2020. GSD also initiated energy audits of all state government buildings in the City of Santa Fe - totaling more than 1.6 million square feet - that are estimated to save a combined 422,127 therms in gas and electricity annually. Furthermore, the energy efficiency improvements are expected to translate to energy cost savings of nearly $1.2 million per year, reducing the cost of energy across the GSD building portfolio.

The WISE Program has successfully helped implement energy efficiency upgrades across GSD buildings, and has helped to expand the use of ESPCs in other government sectors in New Mexico. According to EMNRD, “the WISE Program created a proactive long-range program to support the successful use of energy savings performance contracting. The widespread application of the guidelines allows for the ESPC process to be used by state agencies, local governments, school districts and institutions of higher education.

As a result of the WISE Program, the energy efficiency of state government buildings continues to be a priority goal for implementation of a holistic, whole-building retrofit program using diverse financing mechanisms.

EERE's State Energy Program provides funding and technical assistance to states, territories, and the District of Columbia to enhance energy security, advance state-led energy initiatives, and maximize the benefits of decreasing energy waste. The State Energy Program emphasizes the state’s role as the decision-maker and administrator for program activities tailored to their unique resources, delivery capacity, and energy goals.