Faith in energy efficiency

In the post-Great Recession economy, more businesses are looking for ways to reduce their energy costs, which has provided a boost to Faith Technologies Inc.

The Menasha-based company, which has had a Milwaukee office since 1986, provides energy-saving consulting and installation. The company focuses on helping other companies save money by reducing facility energy costs.

Like a vast majority of businesses that slumped during the terrible economy of 2009, Faith Technologies saw a slight dip in their business last year. But the company is already seeing 2010 business pick up substantially.

During the last few years Faith Technologies has completed energy efficiency projects for Children’s Hospital, American Transmission Company, Cambridge Major Labs, The Milwaukee Job Corps site, Modine Manufacturing and others.

“We do all the homework for (the companies),” said division manager Christine Rahlf. “As a staff, we work very closely with the companies, deciding which energy saving options would be best for them based on budgets, the facility and what grants and tax credits they might qualify for.”

Depending on the situation, Faith Technologies can help companies look at energy efficient lighting installations, geo-thermal heating, new HVAC systems, solar, wind or biofuel systems, said Robert Dakovich, vice president of the company’s Milwaukee office.

“We have skilled workers on staff that specialize in each of the energy saving techniques we offer,” he said. “The skill-set of our employees really ranges from standard electrical work to lighting and other energy efficiency related skills. We really try to provide a gamut of solutions for our customers.”

Faith Technologies can implement energy saving policies and devices in a new building project, but can also assist existing facilities in reducing energy costs as well.

“The recession has forced a lot of companies to start looking at some of that low-hanging fruit, things they can change relatively easily in order to see a short term return on their investment, Dakovich said.

The company has provided solar, wind, bio-fuel, renewable lighting solutions and other energy saving solutions for companies that span a variety of industries, Dakovich said.

Faith Technologies assisted Kohl’s Corp. and Maryland-based Sun Edison LLC, in the installation of more than 800 solar panels on the roofs of three Kohl’s stores in the Milwaukee area, and on its corporate headquarters in Menomonee Falls.

The panels are able to produce 20 percent of the power consumed by each store, which is equal to the energy used to power 886 households, Rahlf said.

Many building owners have been slow to embrace solar panels because it takes a long time for the energy cost savings that they produce to make up for the expensive of installing the panels. Government subsidies, in the form of tax credits and grants, have made solar panels more attractive to some building owners. Kohl’s installed solar panels on many of its stores across the country and benefitted from the economies of scale of that initiative.

“Kohl’s, like many companies, decided to take advantage of some state tax credits,” said Rahlf. “Compensating for 20 percent of the power consumed by multiple stores can add up. Kohl’s has always had a very strong focus on green initiatives and the multiple store installations, even a few years ago would help their investment return.”

A Kohl’s spokesperson declined to provide a comment for this story.

Faith Technologies executives are confident that the improving economy and growing trend of businesses seeking to reduce energy costs will provide opportunities for their company.

“For the most part, (the Great Recession) gave us an opportunity to improve our own efficiency by planning our projects better, doing more pre-fabrication and having everything run more smoothly,” Dakovich said. “We’ve definitely seen things pick up in the first quarter of this year, and as long as we carry over those streamlined practices I think we will emerge from this recession a stronger and a more value-added company.”

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