Some building owners are choosing to generate electricity on-site, and using the heat byproduct to create steam heat. When you provide both electric power and heat from a single source, it’s called combined heat and power, CHP, or cogeneration. Instead of paying twice, first for electricity, and then for heat, the owner only pays once for electricity.

With energy costs eroding profits at an ever-escalating pace, building owners and managers attending the BuildingsNY Show on March 19-20 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City will be looking for answers and alternatives to dependency on the U.S. grid. One of the highly anticipated speakers at the event will be cogeneration energy expert Paul Errigo, who will be making the case for CHP — a proven technology that converts gas into both electricity and heat.

“Once building owners grasp how easy and cost effective it’s become to tap into CHP power ‘in house,’ the decision to choose Cogeneration becomes a relatively easy one for most building professionals,” said Errigo, director of business development for Greencrown Energy — a consulting company specializing in cogeneration systems.

One of the biggest “knocks” against cogeneration in the past, he explained, was the amount of building space required to accommodate a CHP plant. “Today, virtually any building in the city already has the room without needing to make any significant modifications,” Errigo noted.

According to Errigo, the numbers speak for themselves in the argument for cogeneration. “Cogeneration enables a building to cut its total energy costs by 40 to 50 percent, without having to worry about power outages — something, for example, that is especially essential to hospitals and high rise buildings,” he said. Building owners are also able to leverage government incentives and strategic partnerships to further maximize energy savings through various strategies and programs.

Errigo’s company offers a program that doesn’t require capital outlay. “The client pays only for the energy used, which helps to free up cash flow and make forecasting much easier. It’s ideal for not for profit entities that cannot use the tax incentives, such as hospitals, nursing homes, high-rise residential buildings, schools and universities.”

The most efficient power plants in the country achieve no more than 60 percent efficiencies, he added, but CHP systems routinely achieve efficiencies of 80 percent and higher. “Not only will businesses benefit from big cost savings and more predictable prices year after year, they will also be known for using a ‘green,’ environmentally friendly way to provide heat and cooling for their buildings,” he said.

Errigo believes that BuildingsNY Show attendees will want to know the “nuts and bolts” behind generating electricity on site, such as how capturing “waste heat” can be used in a variety of cost-cutting applications. “When we explain how wasted heat is harnessed and turned into useable energy, you can see the light bulbs go off in the room,” he observed. “Buildings just pay for one fuel source – natural gas. Natural gas produces both electrical and thermal energy, which can be used for electricity, hot water, heat, and even cold water for cooling through an absorption chiller.”