Utility Conservation Toolbox

Strategic Energy Management Plan Template

What is an Energy Management Plan?
An Energy Management Plan (EMP) is a tool that clearly states the measures that are, or will be, undertaken at a site to reduce energy consumption. The scope and coverage can vary – they can be developed for individual buildings through to entire portfolios. A large department with a number of diverse facilities may need to develop a separate EMP for each facility, while another department with smaller facilities similar in design may develop an EMP for a group of buildings, such as those within a region or district.

What is a Strategic Energy Management Plan?
A Strategic Energy Management Plan (SEMP) explains the strategy for managing energy, reducing consumption and increasing efficiency. It should define the key players involves in the energy management of the building and should clearly outline action items that will contribute to a reduction in energy use. 

What information should a Strategic Energy Management Plan contain?
The SEMP should address the following questions:

  • What type(s) of energy is used at the building, and how much is consumed? (IE; electricity, gas, track historical usage).
  • Where, how and why is the energy being consumed?  Identify the largest areas that require energy (such as lighting, cooling towers, etc).
  • What specific action items are required to reduce energy usage?  How will they be implemented?  List items that can be address in the short, medium and longer terms.
  • How will the action items be completed, and by whom? 
  • What are the benefits and what are the associated risks of completing these projects?
  • How will the energy saving measures implemented impact tenants in the building, both positively and negatively?   
  • What roles and responsibilities will each employee have to ensure completion of the projects?
  • How will relevant information and data be recorded and reported?  Ensure a utility usage tracking system such as Energy Star benchmarking is in place. 

A department’s SEMP should be considered an ‘evolving’ plan that is updated and re-evaluated at least annually.  Be sure to assign one staff member to track performance at minimum on a quarterly basis so trends and improvements can be identified. 
Initial SEMPs are likely to seek ‘quick-win’ energy reduction measures that are simple, and are relatively easy to implement with minimal resourcing. An example of this is staff behavioral changes in the workplace, such as turning off lights and computers when not in use.  It is expected that the level of detail in a department’s annual SEMP will gradually increase/improve over time as more detailed information is available, such as the findings from energy audits, investigations and studies.

Lighting Conservation Tips

  • Retrofit with energy efficient lamps.  See “Calculating ROI” for help with determining payback on these projects.  Don’t forget that buildings have different lamps throughout.  While you may not be able to retrofit the entire building, consider starting with one area such as just the elevators, or just the landscaping lights.  
  • Lower wattage of lamps where possible, or reduce the number of lamps where possible.
  • Adjust lighting time clocks or computer lighting programs to reduce occupancy cycles when possible.
  • Use partial lighting level wherever possible in interior lighting circuits.
  • Use partial lighting level wherever possible in garage lighting. Generally, perimeter garage areas receive enough daylight that these can be timed to only come on in the evening.
  • Reduce exterior lighting that would not affect security or create an additional liability.
  • Turn off unnecessary interior lighting not in constant use such as backroom operations, perimeter lighting circuits near windows (taking advantage of daylight), lights in office areas when not needed (task lighting), display lights and/or permanent decorative lighting.
  • Require motion sensors in all TI or new construction projects. 
  • If your janitors do not clean every night, be sure to have someone check that all lights are turned off in all unoccupied tenant areas.
  • Work with the janitorial contractor to leave lights off in space not being used or cleaned.
  • Adjust housekeeping and custodial maintenance routines to minimize after hours lighting.
  • Consider installing a lighting sweep feature that will automatically turn off all interior lights after business hours. 
  • Educate tenants on energy conservation.  Encourage the use of task lighting instead of overhead lighting, and promote a lighting conservation campaign. 

Calculating Return on Investment for Energy Projects

Content provided by Stephen Gerhardt, Chief Building Engineer, Santa Clara Towers

You do not need to be an engineer or a mathematician to do these calculations. This article will demonstrate some simple formulas for calculating energy savings and methods for finding the complete value of your project.

Watt= A unit of power
Kilowatt (KW) = 1000 watts
Kilowatt hour (KWH) = Kilowatts divided by the number of hours of draw.  This is the unit of measurement that utility companies bill electricity in. Refer to your electricity bill for your current cost per KWH.

Let’s start with a sample project, changing out elevator lights.

Scenario:  You have 4 elevators that use twelve 20watt lights each. You want to replace those lights with a LED light that uses 3 watts. The lights in these elevators are always on.  The new lights are $30 each versus your existing lights at $8 each.  While you know the LED light would reduce the electricity expense, you want to determine if the annual energy savings for the project make the ROI worth the initial investment in the new lights.   

Step One:  Determine the annual hours of use.  Since the elevator lights are always on, this is 24 hours x 365days = 8,760 hours per year.

Step Two:  Determine the annual cost of both the existing lights and the new, then subtract those two dollar amounts. Use the instructions below to find these amounts. 

To calculate the annual energy cost of the 20watt lights:
Determine KW for all four elevators:  20 watts x 48 lights = 960 watts. Using the definition above, turn this into KW.   960/1000=.96KW
Determine KWH: 8,760 hours per year x .96KW=8,410KWH
Now, refer to your most recent utility bill for the KWH cost.  For this example we will assume 15 cents per KWH.  Therefore:   15 cents x 8,410KWH=$1,261.  This is the total energy cost per year to run all elevator lights. 

To calculate the annual energy cost of the 3 watt LED:  (use the process above)
Determine KW draw for all four elevators: 3 watts x 48 lights = 144watts. 144/1000=.144KW
Determine KWH: 8,760 hours per year x .144KW = 1,261 KWH
Determine annual cost:    .15cents x 1,261KWH=$189
Therefore the cost savings on utility cost to power the lights along is: $1,261-$189=$1,072 annual savings.

Of course this is not a complete picture of this project. To determine the true savings we need to look at the total cost of the project and any other advantages or disadvantages.


  • The LEDs are more expensive at $30 each compared to $8 for the 20 watt lights.  The LEDs cost $30 each so to do a complete conversion of the elevator lights the cost would be an initial investment of $30 x 48=$1,440.


  • LED lights have a 30,000 hour life versus the 20 watt lights (which are incandescent) that have a life of only 2500 hours. That translates to the LED’s lasting 3.5 years, where the 20watt lights have to be replaced approximately every four months!!  The annual cost for replacing each of the 48 lights 3 times a year is 3 x 48 x $8=$1,152.
  • Now, take into account the labor saved not changing lights so frequently. With the existing lights there will be around 140 light changes per year. Assuming it takes 10 minutes per light change to get a ladder, get the new light, complete the replacement and clean up; you are now looking at about 23 hours annually in labor costs on these elevator lights alone. 

You are now ready to calculate the full ROI on this project. 
Initial investment on LEDs (plus approximately 2 labor hours to install): $1,440 
Less energy savings over one year:     -$1,072
Less cost of replacement of 20 watt lights throughout the year   -$1,152
Less the cost of labor hours to change the 20 watt lights through the year:   23hours
Total annual savings=$784 and approximately 21 hours of labor (23 hours of labor saved – the 2 hours to install the new lights).

Now take into consideration that these benefits last for the full  3 year period before any of the LEDs would need to be replaced.  Therefore the full ROI on this project is:

Energy savings:   $3,216
Amount saved due to not having any light changes:  $2,016
Labor savings=67 hours

Total savings over 3 years=$5,232 and 67 hours of labor

Lets look at another lighting situation.  Many buildings have standard two lamp T-8 fixtures throughout office spaces.  To determine the annual cost of a typical two lamp T-8 light fixture, use the steps below.  Check the box your lights come in or ask your lighting representative to determine the wattage of the lights.  Most will be 32 watts each.  As a result you can calculate that the fixture is drawing 64 watts (two x 32 watt tube lights = 64 watts per fixture).

Assume the light is on 12 hours a day 5 days a week for 52 weeks:
Step One: Determine the amount of time.    12 hours x 5 days x 52 weeks = 3,120 hours.
Step Two: Determine the KW. 64 watts/1000=.064 KW.
Step Three: Multiply the annual time the light is on by the KW draw.
3,120 hours x .064 KW=199.7 KWH.

Once you know the KWH you can multiply that by what your utility charges you for your power. Using our example of 15 cents per KWH, your cost to run this fixture per year is:
199.7 KWH x .15 = $29.96.

If you are trying determine the project savings involving a device where the wattage is unknown and/or the device utilizes 3 phase power such as electric motors or AC compressors the formulas are as follows:

Wattage can be determined as long as you know the voltage and amperage.
Volts x Amps= Watts.

Voltage is usually stated on the data plate for equipment but the amperage will have to be measured. Your engineer, HVAC tech or electrician could easily get this information for you.

You also need to calculate for something called power factor (PF) which for motors is usually .9 so let’s assume that unless you already know what it is.

Sample calculation:  If you have a single phase motor using 120 volts and it draws 10 amps the wattage is 120 volts x 10 amps x .9 PF=1,080 watts or 1.08KW.

If you are dealing with a 3 phase motor which is common for pump motors, fan motors and AC compressors you need one more step. You will need to multiply volts, amps and power factor by the square root of 3 which is 1.73.

Sample calculation:  If you have a fan motor which is a 3 phase 480 volt motor drawing 12 amps the wattage will be 480v x 12a x.9PF x 1.73=8,968 watts or 8.97 KW

Again once you have found the wattage apply it as we have above and you can determine the electrical cost of any of your building systems.


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