Small businesses encouraged to utilize $mart Energy Initiatve

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-112792381427230.jpg’, ”, ‘Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’);

CHICAGO—As natural gas and petroleum prices continue to escalate nationwide, Illinois businesses have a useful tool to drive down energy costs, thanks to the Small Business $mart Energy initiative, a key component of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s statewide Opportunity Returns strategy. The Small Business $mart Energy program helps small businesses to reduce the cost of doing business in Illinois through energy efficiency improvements and smart design. Through this program, the Smart Energy Design Assistance Center (SEDAC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Architecture offers free energy audits and whole-building design assistance to new and existing Illinois businesses that want to lower their energy costs, making them more profitable and competitive.

“Higher energy costs can dramatically affect a small business’ bottom line, but Illinois businesses can use the Small Business $mart Energy program to lower their expenses. Energy experts are on hand to counsel Illinois business owners about important techniques to reduce costs, which is increasingly important as our businesses compete in the global marketplace,” said Gov. Blagojevich.

The Small Business $mart Energy program is available for small businesses throughout the state, through a special partnership between Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium (GHPC) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) School of Architecture. In addition to improving business energy efficiency, the program also supports job creation, mitigates pollution and improves small business competitiveness through intelligent building design and efficient building components and systems.

In the recently completed pilot for the Small Business $mart Energy program, 20 businesses received assistance and identified annual energy saving measures of approximately $630,000, where the companies would receive a 34 percent return on their aggregate investment of $3.4 million.

“The Small Business $mart Energy program helps business owners to identify opportunities to reduce energy costs, which is an important way that Gov. Blagojevich is helping to reduce the cost of doing business in Illinois. Amid higher energy prices, entrepreneurs can learn important ways to keep their company profitable through facility and equipment improvements,” said David Chasco, director of the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“Illinois businesses should take advantage of Gov. Blagojevich’s top-notch initiative to keep their companies profitable. For many small business owners, energy can be one of the highest expenditures, and the Small Business $mart Energy program helps keep these costs in check,” said Wael El-Sharif, executive director of the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium.

“Businesses today are not only competing with the competitor up the street, but are competing against companies around the world. It’s important for Illinois small businesses to be at the top of their game, and Gov. Blagojevich knows that businesses need opportunities to cut costs, and energy costs are one of the best places to start,” said DCEO Director Jack Lavin.

Businesses who would like to participate in the program should fill out the Design Assistance Application, located on the SEDAC Web site or by calling 1-800-214-7954. More information about the Small Business $mart Energy Program is available from the Smart Energy Design Assistance Center, a branch of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s School of Architecture that promotes the use of energy conservation measures and sustainable building practices. The SEDAC is a resource for anyone wishing to know more about energy efficiency in Illinois and can provide technical expertise to all Illinois for-profit businesses, including continuing education and training for design professionals, engineers, contractors and building owners on energy efficiency and conservation.

From the Sept. 28-Oct. 4, 2005, issue

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