At the United States Postal Service®, we operate more than 31,000 Post Offices, branches, carrier annexes, and processing and distribution centers across all 50 states and U.S. territories. Our facilities consume energy from all utility sources, including electricity, natural gas, heating oil, propane, and steam. Expenditures on utilities – energy and water consumption – account for more than half of our facility operating costs. That’s why it is important for us to track and proactively manage our energy and water consumption, not only to minimize costs, but to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve natural resources.
How Our Portfolio-Wide Performance is Measured
For a portfolio of our size, we use intensity metrics to track our portfolio level trends and performance. Intensity is a normalized metric that reflects consumption as a function of building size. Our energy performance is tracked by energy use intensity (EUI), which is measured using British Thermal Units (BTUs) per gross square foot (GSF). Likewise, water performance is tracked by water use intensity (WUI), which is measured using gallons per GSF.
Intensity metrics allow us to track our performance year over year; and our performance has been trending in the right direction for both energy and water consumption. Since we use intensity metrics, we know that our performance reflects that our buildings are operating more efficiently, as opposed to consumption decreasing due to changes in the size of our building portfolio.
These trends show our building energy and water performance on an annual basis, but we are also actively monitoring our utility consumption at the facility level on an ongoing basis to quickly identify consumption issues or efficiency opportunities.
How We Monitor Energy and Water Consumption at Facilities
Regularly monitoring energy and water utility bill data at the facility level allows us to quickly identify issues at the facility, such as equipment in need of repair, leaking pipes, or billing errors.
While we operate over 31,000 facilities, many of our buildings are small and only approximately 5,000 facilities consume over 75 percent of our total annual energy consumption. The water and energy consumption for these larger facilities is tracked in our Utility Management System (UMS). The UMS system was set up to analyze and flag invoices that reflect excessive utility usage or utility cost by comparing against data from prior billing cycles and same period last year data, which creates an exception report for review and response. These exceptions are available in the system for UMS Area and District Coordinators to review and take necessary action. There have been numerous instances where exception reviewers were able to identify billing errors, contractual rate infractions, or even a simple high usage due to equipment in need of repair at the facility.
The USPS Enterprise Energy Management System (EEMS) integrates energy data from UMS and our internal purchasing systems, which is used for smaller facilities that are not in UMS. EEMS is used to compare facility energy performance across the portfolio, normalizing usage based on weather conditions to allow us to compare our non-weather impacted energy usage from year to year at the facility level so that we can accurately determine the success of our energy-saving efforts.
Our Current Projects and Initiatives
Energy efficiency investments have improved Postal Service™ operations in several ways. Improved lighting quality allows for faster reading of small print on labels and reduces the associated eye strain. New LED lighting systems reduce the maintenance required for lamp and ballast replacements. Building Automation Systems improve maintenance efficiency by allowing online troubleshooting of problems and reducing inspection routes.
We conduct energy audits at our facilities to identify energy savings opportunities, primarily focusing on LED lighting replacements. One example of a facility energy efficiency project was completed at the Houston North DDC. This project consisted of replacing interior fluorescent lamps and ballasts with LED lamps and new LED drivers as well as replacing high bay metal halide fixtures with new high bay LED fixtures. As part of this project, 219 fixtures were either retrofit or replaced. This project represents a 793,000 kWh annual reduction in energy consumption and a $56,000 annual reduction in energy costs.
Water usage is also evaluated along with energy in performance audits. Where financially feasible, water fixtures have been replaced with low-flow options at facilities as part of this program. Low-flow fixtures generally include 1.6 gallons per flush or less toilets and 0.5 gallon per minute faucet aerators. Water consumption is reduced as well as hot water heater energy consumption in fixtures that use hot water. Our operations are not water intensive, and the major source of water use is through these fixtures.
In addition to our conservation efforts, we are also pursuing new on-site renewable energy projects at our South Jersey Mail Processing center to add additional clean energy to our portfolio. This large solar project includes installation of over 13,000 solar panels, having a capacity of 4260 KW, and is anticipated to generate 7,150,000 kWh, annually. This is enough electricity to power over 650 homes each year.
We all make a difference when we are mindful of our energy and water usage. Remember to do your part, and we’ll be energy smart together. For more information about delivering a positive impact and leading by example, visit usps.com/green.
— Energy Initiatives,
Office of Sustainability, 9-10-20