Explore how successful execution of your facility optimization project is the key to realizing the intended results. And it all starts with a foolproof request for proposal (RFP) process that keeps your project end goals front and center.

So far, we’ve walked through your facility and identified resource conservation opportunities. Then we outlined the necessary steps to effectively analyze the scope of your improvement projects. Today, we’ll explore how successful execution of your facility optimization project is the key to realizing the intended results. And it all starts with a foolproof request for proposal (RFP) process that keeps your project end goals front and center.

In this blog, we look at best practices for gathering proposals, how to compare them objectively, and verify the cost savings. Feel free to download our template and follow along!

Request for Proposal (RFP)

Detailing your organization’s needs in an RFP helps you better gauge how well each vendor understands your project and ensures the work will be done as expected. The first step in facilitating an RFP process is defining the parameters for project execution. Basic RFP’s typically include a summary of the project, expected project completion and a deadline for interested vendors. For a facility optimization project, there are some key parameters that should always be included in the RFP:

Timeline: In addition to the general timeline noted in the RFP summary, ask vendors for a more detailed schedule that includes their proposed project start, time to accomplish major milestones, and expected completion.

Staffing: Seek to understand how many people will do the work, what support the vendor might need from internal staff, what skill levels the proposed staff will have, and what, if any, specialized trade personnel might be required.

Tools and Equipment: It is critical to understand if your project requires any special equipment and what licenses and/or permits might be associated with it.

Location: Get definition around where the work will be done, space access requirements, and storage space needed for material and tools.

Scope of Work: Describe what will and will not be done as part of the project, and describe the product to be installed, including cutsheets, quantity, etc. If you want to review the product prior to installation, make the approval process clear.

Cost: Ask for detailed cost breakdowns, separating labor, materials, equipment, etc., as they can be useful when comparing different quotes.

Incentives: Many utility companies offer rebates for purchasing high-efficiency lighting, HVAC equipment, etc.  Make it clear whether you expect the vendor to collect the rebate for you, or whether you will submit the rebate application yourself. If there are rebates available, make sure to purchase material that qualifies for the rebate. Also, there may be State and/or Federal incentives or tax credits available. Check the incentives database here https://www.dsireusa.org.

Warranty: Make sure to request information on how the product and/or service will be warrantied.

Measure and Verify: Decide early on how to measure and verify the energy savings. Some projects are easier to measure and verify (ex. lighting) than others (ex. chiller upgrade). Ideally, the savings will show up in the utility bills, but, keep in mind, there are many factors that can impact how energy is used before and after the retrofit. Weather and production volume are two major factors. Decide early on if you want to normalize the energy use for comparison and prepare to gather the data needed to complete the analysis.

Other: It’s normal for project and company policies to vary. Add any other requirements that apply specifically to your project. For example, does your company require union labor? Will work need to be done in the evenings between 7pm and 5am or on weekends?

Evaluating Quotes Using a Rubric

Once you have the vendor proposals in hand, you will need a way to compare them to determine which one to work with. Using a rubric, or scoring guide, is the best way to combine subjective and objective information into a concise decision-making matrix. First, decide on the range of scores. A simple 1-3 scale works, but if more distinction is needed between vendors you can use a 1-5 or even 1-10 scale.  

Next, determine the evaluation criteria you want to use. Use the information requested in the RPF as the base to make a list of criteria. Easier to define objective criteria could include project costs, timeline, staff skill and experience level. Will the vendor complete the project in the timeline specified? Award 1 point. Will the vendor complete the project 5 days sooner than the deadline? Award 2 points. 10 days sooner than the deadline? Award 3 points.

Subjective evaluation criterion might include things like whether the proposal was provided in a clear and easy to understand manner. Award 1 point to vendors that answered all the required questions. Award 3 points to vendors that answered all the questions and provided additional/valuable information that enhances the project outcome without adding cost.

After you draft the rubric structure, go back and review your RFP. The purpose of this step is to make sure your RFP asks for all the information you need to fill out the rubric matrix, thus allowing you to effectively evaluate the different vendors. Additionally, some vendors may appreciate knowing how they will be compared to others, so consider sharing the rubric with all vendors so everyone knows how they will be scored.

Implementation Management 

Resource conservation projects can be very complex to execute. If you are outsourcing the project execution, ask the vendor to provide a project management plan for the project. If you are managing the project yourself and don’t have time to create a full project plan, create a project schedule and use it as the execution trail guide. Use the project schedule to sequence when each task needs to be done, how long the task will take, and organize in chronological order. Next to the tasks, indicate who is going to do the work and use the notes field to record information such as tools needed or special considerations for the task.

Preparation-Execution-Close Out

It’s also good practice to break out the schedule into three sections: preparation, execution, and close out. The preparation section could include tasks such as designating a space to store light fixtures, ordering the recycling dumpster to be delivered, renting/receiving equipment, and completing background checks on contractors.

The execution phase of the project should always start with a safety briefing, so everyone is aware of the safety procedures and the work is completed without incidents. The execution section is the most important part of the project, so take the time to think through the major tasks, who will do them, and what material and tools are needed. For example, to replace 100 metal halide light fixtures in a manufacturing facility, production equipment needs to be turned off. Who needs to turn the equipment off? Are all the fixtures easily accessible with the lift you already have? Or do you need special equipment? How easy or hard is it to move the lift equipment in and out of the facility. A good way to verify that the necessary tasks are included in the execution plan it to take your draft project schedule and walk through the location where the project will be executed. Go through each task and see if there is anything missing.

The close out section of the plan will ensure tasks such as submitting the rebate application and receiving the funds are not forgotten. Filing for material warranty is another task that is often over looked. Listing those tasks on the project schedule reduces the chances of not completing them. The final step is to verify the savings have been achieved, using the measure and verify techniques defined in the RFP process. Companies, and utility companies providing incentives, will like to confirm savings have been achieved and are documented.

Conclusion

Following the RFP, rubric evaluation, and project schedule process outlined above provides a systematic path for executing resource conservation projects. Once your facility has been optimized from an operations perspective, consider further reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by utilizing renewable energy. In our next blog, we will share our guidelines on evaluating renewable energy options and how to link it to corporate Environmental Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about Facility Optimization Support, contact us today.

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