2012 Avon Raft Race

Mary Rooney, Luthin Intern

August 15th, 2012

Luthin Associates competed for their second year in a row at the Great Ocean Raft Race in Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ on August 6th 2012. The team made up of John Luthin (CFO of Luthin Associates), Tim Luthin, Mark Hall (Luthin Summer Intern), Kevin Comerford (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center), Scott Okal, and Carlos Burgos was a shoe in to perform well!

The Olympic Spirit Crew

After a tough battle against 16 other teams, decked out from head to toe in outrage uniforms that ranged from hula skirts, to painting themselves purple, Luthin Associates placed 7th! Our raft which was titled the “Olympic Spirit”, did the job to safely secure our crew members as well as beat more than half the teams who signed up.

Luthin Associates is already planning a strategy for the race next year. We’ll be back for a vengeance, and hopefully first place!!

If you missed the race, check out the video we took where you can watch the race unfold before your eyes! Make sure your speakers are on to get the full experience!

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Finding the Right Energy Consultant Is No Easy Task

By Catherine Luthin, President, Luthin Associates

November 11, 2009

You are a real estate executive who has determined that the time has come to hire an energy consultant to help you purchase energy supplies.

So, you have solicited a number of bids. But how do you go about evaluating the relative merits of competing bidders?

A critical way to compare energy consultants — and to evaluate their fees — is by closely scrutinizing the scope of work to be covered by that fee. In addition to seeking the lowest overall cost for your power, your consultant should also be prepared to provide a range of additional services.

Here are some of these additional services a proper consultant should deliver before a supplier contract is signed:

A consultant should be ready to assemble and organize your historic account data, including account numbers, services addresses and rates.

The right bidder should plan to check the suitability of existing delivery tariffs to find options for cutting these costs — and should benchmark annual usage and demand to check for major anomalies.

The consultant should examine your load profile for options that can cut the capacity portion of your commodity price, and should review the consistency of account usage to set realistic allowable variances.

The bidder should understand the energy impact of planned capital projects, and also assist with credit issues or financial standing. Proper credit analysis can potentially allow you to avoid paying deposits.

The right bidder will manage the entire bid process, identify qualified suppliers, explain pricing structures and risks to help make proper decisions, and be able to forecast utility and bidder pricing as a way of managing your own expectations.

Also, the best consultants will watch market metiers for pricing for pricing opportunities as they arise, critique bidder contracts prior to pricing, and negotiate terms and conditions.

To make sure you understand the differences between offers, your consultant must be able to develop unit costs among different offers to create a consistent, “apple-to-apples” analysis.

And the right bidder should ensure that all contracts are approved prior to the bidding so there are no problems at the last minute.

Once the deal is done and the supply contract has gone into effect, the consultant’s services should continue throughout the contract length. There are five key services you should expect at this stage:

First, the consultant should should verify the accuracy of the supplier bills and utility bills.

Second, utility tariffs should be reviewed to identify opportunities to achieve saving.

Third, your consultant should be looking for opportunities to renegotiate a deal if market conditions change.

Fourth, taxes must be properly calculated so that they are applied correctly to the supplier’s bills.

And fifth, the consultant needs to track budgeted energy costs to actual expenditures.

When comparing potential procurement consultants, it is also important to examine credentials. For instance, the industry standard in this sector is qualification as an AEE-Certified Energy Procurement Professional, also called CEP.

The CEP standard is set by the Association of Energy Engineers, a nonprofit professional society with more than 11,000 members in 78 countries. According to AEE, CEP status is reserved for “individuals who have demonstrated high levels of experience, competence, proficiency, and ethical fitness in the energy management profession.”

You should speak to prior customers to get references. It also makes sense to run a credit check.

Finally, real estate executives should not be overly influenced by claims of potential cost savings. Such numbers may be relative to an “expected price” developed by the consultant that has been inflated by assumptions to make the winning price look good.

To promote their services, a procurement practitioner may try to maximize the apparent “savings” from their process, especially if the fee is high. To approximate the going market rate for power at a given time, you can protect yourself by checking their claimed cost savings against other sources — such as free newsletters from some of the major suppliers — or an indicative bid from your incumbent energy supplier.

As with any major purchasing decision, closely examine your options before making your selection. By knowing the right criteria upon which to make your evaluation, you will generate the maximum return on investment in energy — and also on your investment in an energy consultant.

Optimizing Chiller Water Systems

August 1, 2009

Greening Hospitals in New York City through Cost – and Energy – Saving Solutions

By Catherine Luthin

With healthcare being one of the few industries seeing growth in the United States today, hospitals are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of using a sustainable approach to that growth.

Many health centers are incorporating daylight into the wellness process. And to reduce energy consumption, many are scrutinizing the traditional ways of running hospital electrical and mechanical systems. Old practices are being re-engineered to promote sustainability and boost efficiency.

One challenge hospitals face relates to the build-up of unnecessary and inefficient pumping of energy through chilled water systems. Historically, consulting engineers have designed chilled water systems with major additional pumping loads. As the chilled water system became dynamic at certain load conditions, some critical areas of buildings did not get adequate chilled water. When chilled water distribution systems began to lose operating capacity, operators often installed additional pumps in a secondary system or implemented booster pumping.

Unfortunately, additional pumping results in a reduced system temperature between outlet and inlet water temperatures, called Delta T, and reduces chiller operating capacity. This, in turn, requires more chillers and auxiliaries for the given load and results in system inefficiency. Typically, the problem is not a lack of pump power but, rather, an incompatibility between different systems.

Solutions for New York City Hospitals

Identifying and re mediating these conditions has been a long-standing goal for Hemant Mehta, principal of WM Group (WM0, a New York City-based engineering firm. WM recently worked in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to conduct a forensic review of two world class New York City hospitals – and they identified a cost-saving and energy-saving solution.

The two nationally known facilities involved have several common characteristics: They both have multiple chiller plants with primary, secondary and booster pumping; the multiple plants are in different buildings in an urban campus; and the different buildings can share chilled water.

Hospital management recognized the loss in capacity and contacted WM and NYSERDA about New York State’s FlexTech Program, which offers cost-sharing incentives for energy-efficiency studies . The FlexTech Program has a list of contracted engineering firms, such as WM, enabling it to conduct studies confounded on an equal basis by the customer and NYSERDA.

WM began an optimization of the plants with the following goals:

  • Survey existing chiller plants and system designs to determine load requirements
  • Create a hydraulic model of the systems
  • Evaluate pump head requirements
  • Determine the compatibility of system components
  • Evaluate the system controls
  • Recommend system modifications

By maintaining a focus on sustainability through energy efficiency, the organization studies uncovered potential benefits that were too good to pass up.

Between the two facilities, WM found potential reduction in pump load of 2,900 horsepower, which would deliver annual energy savings of $1.1 million.

NYSERDA has funded both the energy study and implementation measures for the two projects with energy-efficiency incentives totaling approximately $1.2 million. For both hospitals, simple payback occurred within less than a year.

In the course of the optimization study, WM used innovative techniques and state of the art solutions:

  • A single, variable-volume, primary pumping solution was identified, which would ensure compatibility between systems.
  • A consistent application of chilled water supply and return temperatures was applied across the entire system; previously, each plant had different Delta Ts.
  • Large air handlers were checked for the controls of cooling coils.
  • All pumps were required to work together hydraulically.
  • All pumps had to be controlled from a common, differentiated pressure sensor in the main distribution line.
  • Multiple differential pressure sensors were installed on the main distribution system to determine ideal control settings. Optimum set-point for the pumps was determined through empirical data.

By implementing the WM optimization study, and with funding assistance from NYSERDA, two major New York hospitals are now realizing significant energy and overhead cost savings.

To carry forward its efforts to promote sustainability in New York State’s healthcare sector, NYSERDA recently announced a “Focus on Healthcare” initiative that is assisting hospitals and medical facilities statewide with implementing cost-effective energy efficiency strategies that reduce energy consumption and improve our environment.

Catherine Luthin

Catherine Luthin is president and founder of Luthin Associates. Luthin has more than 25 years of financial and energy-management experience within corporate, nonprofit and regulatory environments. Based in Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ, Luthin Associates provides a wide array of energy consulting services to all industry sectors in the New York City region. Luthin Associates serves as implementation contractor for Focus on Healthcare, the NYSERDA initiative that assists the state’s healthcare industry with reducing energy and improving the environment while enhancing the treatment of patients.

For additional information, contact Natale DiDonato, CRM, project manager, under contract to NYSERDA Focus on Healthcare, at healthcare@nyserda or visit http://www.nyserda.org/HealthCare/default.asp