Blog : A Financial Approach to Sustainability

By Madalyn | Dec 9, 2014 | in

By Michael McCord
 
Jeff Hiatt believes that when it comes to sustainability, helping a business stabilize its expenses often can go hand-in-hand with environmental stewardship.
 
Hiatt is the founder of Performance Business Solutions. From their offices in Hampton Falls, PBS serves clients both locally and nationally. Through the firm’s multi-phase consulting approach, they have helped hundreds of clients save millions of dollars since 1995. The firm uses rigorous expense reviews and energy efficiency programs that can add to a company’s bottom line.
 
Hiatt is connected to many of his clients through CPAs. He consults on how commercial real estate and apartment building owners can use ‘Cost Segregation Studies’ to accelerate depreciation of their properties. “From there we can pivot into a conversation about other savings opportunities,” he said. The next stage can be reducing energy usage by creating energy through sources such as solar, wind and geo-thermal generation. “Engineering studies can be utilized to fully assess the energy efficiency of the client’s property. The studies help to reduce expense and increase profits.”

These assessments are backed by a tremendous amount of data. “We graph all of a client’s energy usage for the past 24 months,” Hiatt explained. “This enables them to see clear cut patterns of usage with variances noted on daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal time frames. Now that our clients understand how they use gas and electric power, we can then help them look at ways of reducing their energy consumption. Our recommendations are always based on a thorough financial cost benefit analysis. If it will not improve the bottom line profit enough, we will not recommend the solution.” 
  
Education is a critical part of building a relationship with a client. “I’ve worked in the green world for many years now,” Hiatt said. “I understand that these business owners are often bombarded by cold calls, junk mail and spam. They mentally shut down because it all seems like marketing hype and malarkey. When I help them with the depreciation on their buildings, they often ask what else I can do. Then I have an opportunity to explain how green solutions can improve a client’s bottom line.”
 
That was exactly the process in the “partnership” between Hiatt and Paragon Communications in Belmont, Mass. The company will soon activate an almost $3 million solar array project. In 2012, Paragon purchased a property for its headquarters. Hiatt did a cost segregation study on the property to take advantage of some accelerated tax depreciation allowances.
 
Paragon CFO, Paul Gentili, said the company was concerned about long-term energy costs. Hiatt recommended a solar vendor to assess the costs and benefits of installing solar panels on the top of their 300,000 square-foot building. Producing its own solar energy fit into the company’s mission of recycling electronics and keeping materials from landfills. However, achieving its goals was a new experience for Paragon, Gentili noted.
 
“It’s a completely different world of federal tax breaks, Solar Renewable Energy Certificates, and heavy research into five or six vendors to determine the right provider,” Gentili explained.

Eventually, Paragon went with the vendor Hiatt recommended. The company expects to get a return on its investment in six years. “This was a large project and a major initiative for us,” Gentili said. “Whatever solar power we produce, we will use. That will help us save money for the expected 25 year life span of the panels.”
 
Performance Business Solutions is a business partner of the Green Alliance, the Portsmouth organization representing more than 100 local green businesses and nearly 4,000 consumer members. Also, Hiatt is a former board member of the New Hampshire chapter of the U. S. Green Building Council. While on the board, he helped judge the “Green Building Awards.” During this time, Hiatt developed an arsenal of other environmentally friendly tools for expense reduction for businesses. He helps clients sort through the various options to help finance the upgrades, including tax incentives, tax credits, utility company rebate programs and power purchase agreements.

Originally, Hiatt branched out from selling business insurance because it was so competitive. He needed a “differentiator” to set himself apart from his competitors. Hiatt can’t see himself doing anything more rewarding. He works with businesses of all sizes and utilizes a team of experts including architects, engineers, energy efficiency and green technology specialists. Though he has national clients, 80 percent of them are in New England. Yet, his clients all have a common dilemma: a need to reduce expenses and increase profits.
 
“I enjoy the dual positive of making an impact on the environment and the economy,” Hiatt said. “By implementing green solutions and green tools, my clients will use less energy and that helps their bottom line. It helps sustain the future of the company.”

All Green Alliance Members save $500 off a Cost Segregation Study from Performance Business Solutions! Not a GA Member? Join here!