This past week, President Obama signed into law a government stimulus package. Energy is a major piece of the package, with roughly $50 billion earmarked for energy programs. So, how can 8(a) companies tap into the opportunity? For answers, ExecutiveBiz turned to Bobby Christian, president of Tangible, a solutions company focused on energy, security, and consulting offerings based in Bethesda, Md. Since coming on board last fall, Christian has helped Tangible build upon a key niche: providing energy solutions to federal customers. “I have a passion for this,“ says Christian, adding, “we need more people to focus in this area and get good at it.“ Here Christian offers his take on energy trends to watch “” and why energy is the place to be for 8(a) companies.
You've mentioned energy will be a key issue over the next five to 10 years. What key areas should 8(a) companies be watching?
Bobby Christian: Let me start with the stimulus package. The government is going to mandate that companies and government agencies reduce their carbon footprint. The goal is to get to a “carbon neutral“ position. Tangible has partnered with and built intellectual property to baseline and ultimately reduce the carbon footprint over time. So renewable energy is a key area.
Energy efficiency is also a focus. Tell us about that.
Bobby Christian: The low hanging fruit for this country “” and really globally “” is to become more efficient in the way we buy, use, and manage electricity. Just looking at the way you acquire energy, what your rate structure is “¦ we help companies and agencies perform a rate analysis to determine if there is a potential cost savings just based on the way they purchase energy from providers. We also have a complete outsource service for invoice management for all utilities. We have helped government agencies save millions of dollars by ensuring there are no late payments or duplicate or erroneous bills. Once the invoice data is centralized, it’s the start of being able to perform analytics to become more efficient.
Fill us in on sub-metering, what's its role in energy efficiency?
Bobby Christian: The government is mandating that agencies do what is called sub-metering. Right now “” if you can visualize this “” there is typically just one meter outside a large facility, so inside you don't really know where that energy is being used. Sub-metering either by floor “” even within a floor “” allows for charge backs; you charge the people using the energy rather than just one price that comes in at the front of the building. Sub-metering also helps to identify areas for operational improvement or identify potential issues.
What other services strengthen energy efficiency?
Bobby Christian: Building control management systems allow clients to optimize energy consumption by controlling everything from lighting to HVAC systems based on organizations behavioral patterns. There are also energy curtailment programs that reward clients for reducing the demand they put on the energy grid. The entire “Green Initiative“ has helped to create an awareness from energy providers to the consumer. The market is ready for innovative solutions that can be easily adopted by clients.
What are some federal target markets for energy?
Bobby Christian: All federal agencies with large numbers of facilities, the Department of Defense specifically. An interesting statistic I have read in various periodicals “” the DoD is the largest consumer of oil in the world and is one of the largest landlords in the world. That's a huge number. Over the last five years Tangible has been focusing on providing solutions to help government agencies and commercial entities with energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. There are significant cost savings and a tangible return on investment with these projects, so our clients are “doing well by doing good.“
How can an 8(a) company seize opportunities in energy?
Bobby Christian: Everything starts with an energy audit. To the degree companies invest and get smart about doing energy audits and truly understanding the core issues associated with energy efficiency and renewables will be the degree they will be successful.
What sort of partnering strategy would you recommend to an 8(a) company, if at all?
Bobby Christian: It's probably a better strategy to partner first. That said, you are going to have to make an investment first “” that investment would be to understand what's involved in the entire energy lifecycle. Tangible has been making significant investments over the last five years in our people and technology development to provide solutions in the area of invoice management, carbon footprint management, meter data management, building control management, demand and curtailment management, and acquisition management. There are organizations that specialize in each of these areas, but the key is to make them work together to meet a client's specific needs.
Well, you've been planning in advance so you have an advantage. It might be harder for other 8(a) companies, then?
Bobby Christian: You've got it “” I really feel like we are three to four years ahead of the market. That said, while I'm not going to tell you that I want to create competitors, the reality is there is such a need right now. Energy efficiency truly is one area where we, as a country, are going to have our hands full. As I mentioned we [Tangible] have been doing this for a very long time but that's not enough; what I'm seeing is that the industry as a whole doesn't have enough smart people in this area. There is just a tremendous opportunity to communicate this to other 8(a) companies and to the large integrators. Energy is more of a country responsibility “” a national responsibility “” and I don't mind sharing information so we can create smarter people in this country to resolve this issue.
Interview conducted by JD Kathuria
Read more interviews here: https://blog.executivebiz.com/category/interviews/