An Energizing Success Story

Whether you’re a business owner, employee, or resident of our area, the energy industry is an important factor for all southeastern Pennsylvania communities. To address the workforce and economic needs of this sector, the Smart Energy Initiative (SEI) was formed in 2007.

An initiative of the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC), SEI aims to promote the growth of the “smart” energy industry by providing workforce training, access to financing programs, connections between resources and supply chain, and technical expertise through local industry players.

SEI is comprised of more than 100 participating companies and organizations including HVAC, solar, wind, and geothermal companies; educational institutions; and county development offices.
We recently spoke with Paul Spiegel, President of Practical Energy Solutions on the occasion of his company’s 10th anniversary. Spiegel also serves as a Vice Chair on the CCEDC Board of Directors and as a member of the Executive Committee for SEI.

Practical Energy Solutions Celebrates 10 Years in Business

Since March 2006, Practical Energy Solutions has been committed to working with organizations to help them cut their energy expenses and reduce environmental impacts. The company started small with just Spiegel and an equal partner.

“Our sole service was evaluation of building operations and providing technical support for operating buildings more efficiently to save energy. Our goal was to reduce energy consumption 15% – 20% without any capital investment, and we were paid out of the energy cost savings. We received 50% – 80% of the savings for the first 2 years.”

After his partner left the company in 2007, Spiegel was the organization’s sole employee until 2009. During that time, he:

“immediately broadened our service offering to include assessments of capital upgrades, energy audits, and energy strategic planning, all for commercial, municipal and educational facilities.” Spiegel said he also “added an energy education or behavior change element to our services, because the people managing and occupying the buildings have a huge impact on the energy performance.”

The recession actually helped Practical Energy Solutions expand its operations as according to Spiegel.

“Many of our clients wanted to be more aggressive about saving energy, because the economy was forcing them to reduce costs, and energy savings helped them improve their financials without cutting staff or programs. We grew significantly during the next several years.”

Today Spiegel’s company has 8 employees and is positioned to ride the growth of the energy industry taking place.

How is SEI helping energy companies like Practical Energy Solutions?

Practical Energy Solutions is one of more than 100 small businesses that benefit from working with the Smart Energy Initiative every year, making the program an indispensable asset to the region’s energy economy. Participating in SEI offers companies like Practical Energy Solutions resources and benefits including training assistance, networking opportunities, industry-specific working groups, educational programs, and partnership development.

According to Spiegel, his company:

“uses the resources available from SEI on a regular basis which really has supported our growth and our ability to create family-sustaining jobs during difficult economic times.”

What’s next for SEI?

This fall, SEI is offering interested parties the unique opportunity to tour the new Saint Gobain/CertainTeed headquarters in Malvern. The tour will showcase Saint-Gobain’s double LEED platinum site and provide participants an opportunity to learn about product selection as well as the inspiration for occupant acoustic, thermal, and visual comfort. Discussions at the event will also include open office space and ongoing change management initiatives.

SEI is charging a fee for the tour as AIA CEU credits will be offered.

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