Helping companies better manage their energy and resource requirements to reduce utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions is what drives CarbonetiX, an Australian Total Energy & Resource Solutions company. Led by its passionate general manager, Randall Vavra, the CarbonetiX mission statement is “to improve our clients’ energy and resource management by utilising our experience and leading-edge technologies to deliver practical, cost effective solutions that enhance environmental performance.”
Building his career from his first civilian job with a major building automation company, Vavra has vast experience in the energy management field. After joining the United States Naval Nuclear Power program, his eyes were opened to the remarkable things that can be achieved by monitoring and measuring pre and post project implementation. Within this naval program he studied physics, chemistry, reactor principles, heat transfer and fluid flow as well as electricity and electronics. Combined with his experience within the instrumentation & controls, sensing and communications industries, Vavra is well equipped to develop and implement new projects – a skill that saw him welcomed to CarbonetiX in 2014.
Operating since 2002, CarbonetiX targets smart control schemes, HVAC improvements, lighting and energy usage to offer energy saving assessments, guaranteed cost savings, fixed fee proposals and funding solutions. Vavra’s vision for the company sees it becoming the “leading national provider of energy and resource management services that make a real difference to our clients’ operations and the environment.”
One of the true innovations CarbonetiX has made to the energy & resource solutions it implements is to provide a total turnkey solution. Vavra and his team take projects from auditing; finding saving potential, identifying waste energy and spotting opportunities for reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, all the way through to implementation and solution management ensuring that the savings they have predicted come to fruition.
CarbonetiX has also pioneered its ‘Embedded Officer Programme’ (EOP). In its infancy, EOP assisted various visionary councils seeking carbon neutral status. Utilising the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS), CarbonetiX guides councils to achieve their overall goals of becoming carbon neutral. These councils are still leading the way in the carbon neutrality area with CarbonetiX adding more councils each year. Teaming with an offsetting company (Carbon Neutral) has allowed CarbonetiX clients to reach carbon zero. After all the carbon saving initiatives have been accomplished, they can then offset the rest of their emissions.
“Mark [the EO] was an excellent help, his technical expertise and thorough understanding of the NCOS process and detailed greenhouse inventory was invaluable. Mark worked closely with our team and went the extra mile to help us meet our deadline.” – Laura Lynch, ESD Unit Manager, Moreland City Council
CarbonetiX operates with a multidisciplinary approach to bring energy & resource solutions to organisations in Australia. The audit-to-implementation methodology offers clients a project managed solution with less risk and higher success rate.
CarbonetiX provides a multitude of energy & resource solutions: Energy Management Plans, Guaranteed Energy Savings Projects (GESP), Energy Performance Contracts (EPC), Utility Management Services, Energy and Carbon Management Services and Environmental Sustainability Consulting. These solutions span across managing electricity, gas, water, solar, wind and hydro power usage. “We are always on the lookout for new ways to save energy”.
CarbonetiX has also developed innovative technologies to electronically monitor every facet of energy management, including carbon emissions, electricity and water usage, through its software CarbonmetriX and Carbon Real-Time, recently rebranded as SmartPortal.
SmartPortal offers organisations the ability to monitor resource data across electricity, gas, water consumption, peak load, fuel, carbon, paper, waste or power generation. CarbonetiX analyses the data then provides an energy management solution to meet energy saving and GHG emission targets.
Another revolutionary product designed by CarbonetiX is the Domestic Hot Water Heat Pump Transfer System. Working in partnership with Eureka Australasia, this innovative, patented product is now available to Australian clients. It uses waste heat transferred from the refrigeration gases within systems until the cylinder is filled, from top to bottom, with hot water – a feature where hot and cold water layers are maintained separately throughout the heat recovery process.
CarbonetiX offers a range of unique products that enable clients to realise practical savings in their energy. The company was recently appointed a distributor of the EnviroTemp HVACR solution that adds from 10-30 per cent efficiency back. This is totally unique as no other solution addresses the efficiency losses on the refrigerant side.
The solutions CarbonetiX provide offer a quick return on investment (ROI), and one of the strongest elements to the company’s turnkey solutions is the reduction of risk in implementation. By bringing together all the elements of energy & resource solutions, across feasibility studies, mechanical services, smart controls, solar, heat, lighting, power generation and HVACR, implementation and project management, Vavra is reducing the interfaces (and therefore risk) by a multiple of seven or eight. Unlike divested energy & resource solutions, where project management is necessary to organise multiple suppliers, the CarbonetiX process includes project management.
The energy & resource company is an accredited member of the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) programme. As a service administered by the Essential Services Commission (ESC), it is designed to make energy efficiency improvements more affordable and encourage investments and the reduction of greenhouse gases.
As an accredited person (AP), CarbonetiX can offer discounts on its energy saving products to commercial properties. As Vavra describes it, “The bigger the greenhouse gas reduction, the bigger the discount passed onto the consumer.”
With AP status, CarbonetiX are now able to create Victorian Energy Efficiency Certificates (VEECs), with each certificate representing one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) reduced by the implementation of a ‘prescribed’ energy saving activity.
Through the scheme and particularly VEECs, CarbonetiX is offering price reductions, for both upfront and delayed cash through effective energy saving management of commercial lighting in businesses. This approach benefits twofold; firstly through CarbonetiX receiving the project and working on behalf of the client, and secondly, once it has created the VEEC, the certificate can be traded as a commodity in itself to provide another stream of profitability. Through the consulting side of the business CarbonetiX has also assisted other suppliers gain their accreditation (AP) status by awareness and training programs tailored specifically to the clients’ needs.
CarbonetiX has had great success with a variety of projects through the VEEC & EPC programmes. They have provided cost-effective engineering solutions to reduce utility consumption and cost at GWM Water. A SmartPortal installation for the Beacon Lighting Group resulted in savings for the organisation of AUS$57,859 per year. While a lighting upgrade to efficient LEDs at the 150 Clarendon Street building in Melbourne led to an annual CO2 emissions saving of 138 tonnes of CO2-e per year.
CarbonetiX has worked closely with key suppliers and partners in achieving its success to date. Vavra emphasised the important work and relationships the company has built with Eureka Australasia, Trinity Water, EnviroTemp, Carbon Neutral, and TCM Solutions. He also highlighted the work of local contractors, “We must thank many of the local electricians, mechanical contractors and suppliers for their support because without them we would not be able to provide our solutions.”
One of the biggest problems facing CarbonetiX and the rest of the industry is, as Vavra describes it, getting large commercial organisations to buy into the energy management theory. For such organisations where the energy saving can often be small proportionally compared to revenue (<1 per cent), energy & resource solution providers face difficulty in persuading the initial capital outlay as the incentive to reduce carbon emissions is low. Part of the reason for this is the relatively low cost of power in Australia as the stocks of coal are still high.
Vavra believes there needs to be both behavioural changes; companies educating their staff base to do simple energy management solutions at an employee level; activities such as turning lights off when not in use and adjusting air conditioning set points up a couple of degrees during summer and down during winter. This can easily be achieved by invoking a ‘thermal comfort policy’ that gets buy-in from all the staff. Also, and arguably more importantly, there needs to be cultural change within companies at a director level to fundamentally alter the organisation’s approach to energy management and greenhouse gas emissions which can be achieved through a corporate energy management plan.
“Working with organisations such as Linfox, Telstra, Country Road, major government departments, local government, schools, manufacturers, retailers, hotels, restaurants etc. we have helped some of our clients achieve energy savings of 40 to 50 per cent,” said Vavra.
“Savings of this magnitude should be more common. Undertaking thousands of energy audits only to see many of our reports gather dust, led us to develop the Energy Management Plan. Serious about saving energy? Start with an Energy Management Plan, not an energy audit.”
Vavra wants these large companies to realise that while the cost benefit may appear small to begin with, there are significant exponential savings that will be seen after the initial capital investment for the project.
CarbonetiX describes the ‘value of sustainability’ as offering three key advantages: it will reduce company costs through efficiency, by reducing demand for energy and minimising waste, decrease carbon emissions and enhance an organisation’s reputation by showing stakeholders diligence towards the environment.
Looking forward Vavra sees the ‘value of sustainability’ as a key process to realise through continued work with government and the Energy Efficiency Council. He said, “It is a tough industry out there and what we have seen is that in most cases companies generally will not move forward with energy reduction plans unless there are government incentives to do so. We just need to keep plugging away and the results will speak for themselves.”