The bundled solutions provider for Energy Service Companies
By Doug Smith
While public and private sectors continuously strive to improve infrastructure without having to dip into capital funds, more organizations are realizing the value of Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPC). ESPCs are proving to be a necessity because of the complexities surrounding energy usage.
As the demand for ESPCs increases and Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) portfolio of energy projects grow, company stakeholders are looking for ways to streamline efficiencies and communication to take on and complete more projects at a faster pace. ESCO’s are turning to bundled solutions providers, like ECM Holding Group, to help achieve efficiencies in operations and cost.
ECM Holding Group (ECM) is a portfolio of companies that delivers innovative solutions to Energy Service Companies. Their core services have grown over the past decade through strategic acquisitions. With the recent acquisition of Aqua Energy Services in the spring of 2020, they have rounded out the suite of services they offer and can now tackle all necessary measures for an ESPC, with HVAC, water, and lighting being the key three drivers for any full-scale project.
The portfolio includes:
- Building Envelope Solutions
- HVAC Armor
- Green IT Solutions
- Aqua Energy
- Lighting Integrated Technologies
- TEL (Airflow Controls & Monitors)
The ECM Difference
ECM was founded in 2011 by Erik Larson after recognizing the need for Energy Service Companies having access to innovative turn-key solutions. The team has made strategic and diligent long-term decisions to grow their resources and be a comprehensive partner.
ECM taps into each acquired company’s staff and expertise, creating a team of experts. The executive team is highly devoted to providing a dynamic, educated, and experienced staff.
“Over the last ten years, ECM has created a team that is made up of several industry leaders that came from Energy Service Companies,” states ECM President Erik Larson. “We have been on the other side of projects, and our focus has been on making projects run smoother, allowing ESCO’s to be more profitable, and helping them achieve greater customer satisfaction.”
The culmination of their efforts over the past nine months has led them to launch 1-Touch PM™. With 1-Touch PM™, Energy Service Companies have a single point-of-contact from the initial conversation to project close. The dedicated contact is a senior-level construction project manager, who leads the ECM site team and safety staff.
A subcontractor’s ability to place a highly valued, versed, and experienced project manager executive to run a performance contract is extremely desirable because that individual will ensure customer satisfaction and maintain consistency throughout the project.
ECM can do this because of its capacity to scale. In a typical performance contract, there are several subcontractors involved, each responsible for a specific measure. Each subcontractor has a small portion of the overall project scale; however, because ECM can take on all measures, they create efficiencies in their resources, allowing them to provide high caliber staff.
“We have the sort of scale that allows us to bring the kind of talent and professionalism that you would expect on a performance contract,” said Larson. “We can offer a very sophisticated safety plan across all those measures.”
From the beginning, effective communication and project management has been at the core of ECM. Over the last several years, the team has noticed gaps in projects involving multiple contractors. Larson describes the origination of the 1-Touch PM philosophy; “This originated from looking at less commoditized measures. We built the 1-Touch PM philosophy by picking up small measures that were so obscure that they might not have been ever included in a project. By us being able to have the ESCO contact us one time, give us data one time and create multiple measures out of that was key. The acquisition of Aqua Energy Services completed that entire strategy with ESCO’s being able to reach out one time for each project that they have”.
1-Touch PM streamlines a project and offers a customer interaction that is personal and straight-forward, regardless of how many contractors are involved in the project implementation.
Optimizing Contractor Coordination
One of the biggest challenges that ESCOs face during a project is hiring multiple contractors. When dealing with health and safety issues, it is heightened because of the foot traffic in and out of spaces. The coordination of various contractors is critical.
“The coordination of multiple contractors is more critical today than ever before. It is amplified because of the overhead, health, and safety issues with multiple contractors coming in and out of occupied spaces”, states Larson.
For example, if a project in an education facility needs to be completed in summer months, that’s a tight timeline requiring a project manager to coordinate scopes of work, deliverables and logistics.
“Our ESCO customers are looking for one contractor who can coordinate the scope, be held accountable, and ultimately manage an integrated plan from start to finish”, said Larson.
Communication is key to this type of coordination, and ECM has used proven communication methods as a way to keep the project running smoothly.
When they were awarded a $23 million federal project at Fort Bragg earlier this year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a delay. When the project was allowed to start in May, social distancing limitations required ECM to work with the customer to find solutions. Because they managed the entire operation, they were able to continue to meet the customer’s timeframe even though the number of people in the facility was limited.
ECM quickly communicated and deployed the necessary action when COVID-19 guidelines changed. For some time, the guidelines were changing daily and new instruction was given to the industry on how to maneuver and operate. Instead of the ESCO working and communicating directions to multiple subcontractors, the ECM project manager drove the communication up to the ESCO and down throughout the internal team to rapidly adapt to new guidelines.
Streamlined processes and turn-key solutions are crucial for project success and improving return on investment (ROI). When an ESCO works with one subcontractor, it creates cost efficiencies across the board. A subcontractor, like ECM can leverage, and again, scale its resources to meet the budget requirements and expectations of the ESCO.
Because ECM has a tactful way to organize any project, they are able to take significant costs out of it. The ability to meet the customer’s budget and schedule has gained them a deserved positive reputation.
In closing, the shift of ESCOs working with bundled solutions providers, like ECM Holding Group LLC, will continue to grow due to the demand for Energy Savings Performance Contracts. ESCOs are looking to move faster and take on the increased demand while providing exceptional customer satisfaction and a predictable positive ROI.