Measuring energy

  @FortuneMagazine February 6, 2014: 7:00 AM ET
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In 2010 the Massachusetts Department of Transportation launched GreenDOT, an ambitious initiative to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of the state's transportation system 40% by 2020. When he heard the news, Tim Lasker, the sustainability specialist for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), had one thought: How are we going to manage this? The first step was to review how much energy the MBTA was using for each task -- but given that it was using different sources of energy (fuel oil, natural gas, electricity), how was Lasker to compare the efficiency of one to another?

The answer was closer than he knew. Energy Points, a Boston company, had developed an algorithm it claimed could do just that. So last year Lasker fed three years' worth of data on heating, cooling, electricity, waste, and water from the MBTA's four oldest bus garages into EnergyPoints Analytics software -- which translates the energy contained in various sources into a single common unit -- and started asking hypotheticals. At the Quincy facility, an old horse-and-carriage garage built in the early 1900s, he learned the MBTA could save $112,121 and the energy equivalent of 29,561 gallons of gasoline in just one year by switching from fuel oil to natural gas for heat.

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