ROC Solid: Remote Operations Center Delivers Energy Savings

Facilities and energy management can be a reactive line of work. Maintenance teams are often chasing after hot/cold calls, control overrides, or utility bill increases and asked to manage more area with fewer staff.

Typically, facilities operations teams are spread across multiple regions and decisions have to percolate through numerous teams, slowing down the process and complicating solutions.

To proactively manage large, interconnected facility groups, monitoring energy usage and maintaining system efficiency have to be enterprise-wide priorities every day.

Uniting systems management through a Remote Operations Center (ROC) utilizing automated fault detection and monitoring-based commissioning (MBCx) can provide the framework for a solution. Drawing on the latest data analytics software to empower maintenance staff, ROCs take a holistic approach to energy efficiency for large, multi-facility systems. This allows a small team to track real-time efficiency data and drive maintenance efforts at several locations – even if separated by hundreds of miles.

Over time, the benefits of establishing an ROC in terms of both energy savings and overall efficiency can be dramatic.


Beginning in 2010, Phoenix-based Banner Health System worked with Bernhard* on retro-commissioning projects at several of their facilities, with a goal of lowering energy costs and minimizing threats to mission-critical services. The non-profit health system has a large footprint, with 32 hospitals across six states.

Banner Health and Bernhard team’s initial efforts to make older buildings more energy efficient achieved significant savings at numerous facilities. However, performance drift eventually set in and annual energy use and cost slowly increased. Identifying a strategy that worked system-wide was a complex problem involving multiple building automation technologies, computerized maintenance management systems, system design standards, and maintenance protocols at different Banner Health campuses.

Bernhard’s team of experts stepped in to help Banner Health develop an innovative pilot program at the Thunderbird Medical Center in Phoenix. The program was built around monitoring-based commissioning with data delivered to a centralized operations hub staffed by a small team of skilled technicians and energy analysts. This hub would collect, store, and analyze data from buildings on the Thunderbird Medical Center campus while standardizing maintenance processes and identifying opportunities to optimize energy efficiency.

The results of this pilot program were outstanding, delivering energy cost savings of $449,000 per year, including saving 4.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 13,600 dekatherms of natural gas.

Seeing the promise of a more data-driven energy strategy, Banner Health began an operations initiative in 2015 aimed at leaving behind facility-specific decision-making in favor of standardized protocols and a centralized ROC providing monitoring-based commissioning. By 2017, Bernhard had helped make the Banner Health ROC a reality.

The ROC quickly made headway at lowering Banner Health’s energy costs, identifying maintenance opportunities, and correcting system inefficiencies. In some cases, Banner Health ROC analysts were even able to predict adverse events.

For example, Banner Health central plants sometimes experience chiller surging, a condition where refrigerant backflows the refrigeration cycle. Chiller surging can reduce equipment life if left unchecked. By consulting with refrigeration engineers to understand the warning signs of chiller surge and how it appears in the data, the team is now able to remotely identify conditions that lead to chiller surge, allowing technicians to proactively adjust plant operation.


Banner Health’s ROC initiative has been a demonstrated success. Since 2016, a centralized ROC monitoring more than 15 million square feet of space with a staff of only 12 has worked with the Bernhard engineering team to orchestrate energy projects that reduced annual energy spend by nearly $12 million per year. In addition, real-time monitoring for faults and anomalies has helped save $3.8 million annually that would have been lost to performance drift, while reducing equipment diagnosis and repair times, hot and cold calls and deferred maintenance and repairs.

Bernhard’s system of constant tracking of factors like temperature, humidity and pressure helped Banner Health meet or exceed patient healing environment goals like average patient room temperature and consistent negative air pressure in operating suites and isolation rooms. Thanks in part to these efforts, the American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) awarded Banner Health their 2021 Excellence in Health Care Facility Management Award, which showcases innovative facilities management programs that improve patient care.

Ready to learn more about what remote monitoring-based commissioning could do to help meet energy goals for your large, multi-facility organization? Click here to learn more about Bernhard’s past successes and team of experts.

*Banner Health Systems was contracted with ETC Group, an energy-efficiency engineering firm acquired by Bernhard in Feb. 2022.


3 Valuable Disaster Response Lessons Learned From Hurricane Ida

As we enter another Hurricane season, it is impossible not to look back and remember the turmoil of Hurricane Ida. We have made it our responsibility to use the past as a guide and build upon our disaster response experiences to better equip our teams to deal with what the future may hold. Storms and natural disasters routinely come with little warning, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be prepared well ahead of time. Our teams have experience providing disaster response for Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Michael, the Baton Rouge floods, and many more.

When Hurricane Ida entered the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 29, 2021 and took aim at the state of Louisiana, it seemed like a horrifying case of déjà vu.

Ida was poised to strike on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which inundated New Orleans, took the lives of more than 1,800 people and caused $160 billion in damage and a refugee crisis in the region. As the storm neared, Ida quickly strengthened into a devastating Category 4 hurricane, packing sustained winds of 150 mph.

With hospitals in south Louisiana already at capacity due to COVID-19, officials in Louisiana and beyond feared the worst. Bernhard customers include most of the healthcare facilities in the region, so we knew it would take all the experience, technical skill and ingenuity our teams could muster to keep those facilities up and running to save lives.

As predicted, Ida roared ashore at Port Fourchon on August 29 before grinding inland. By the time the hurricane dissipated, Ida had caused at least $75 billion in damage. Though more than 1 million people across Louisiana were left without power, round-the-clock efforts by Bernhard crews kept clients running throughout the disaster.

Here are a few of the things we learned from our experience with Hurricane Ida:


Throughout the course of the hurricane, many potential catastrophic disasters were mitigated in advance, thanks to Bernhard operators and technicians who were stationed there ahead of the storm, embedded with the clients we serve. In addition, Bernhard teams pre-staged dozens of backup generators before the storm to keep the power and air-cooling capacity flowing to mission-critical facilities, while on-site crews tended the generators and repaired units as issues arose.

While it’s difficult for team members to risk putting themselves in harm’s way, our ability to immediately counteract the effects of the hurricane as it made landfall and came ashore kept several healthcare facilities online, providing care without electrical interruption.


In the chaos of a Category 4 hurricane and its aftermath, with multiple threats to mission-critical infrastructure coming from all directions, a disaster is literally seconds away at any moment. It was important for Bernhard crews to stay flexible, alert and in communication, constantly evaluating and re-prioritizing threats to mission-critical infrastructure.

In one instance, after patients were displaced from another facility by the storm, Bernhard teams eased overcrowding by preparing 15 existing patient rooms, relocating multiple headwall rough-ins and replacing some light fixtures and all outlets. In another instance, after a client campus lost access to the local water supply, Bernhard crews installed an industrial-grade filtration system before switching to a secondary source.

These are just a few of the dozens of ways the flexibility and on-the-fly decision making of Bernhard teams helped stave off trouble for our clients during and after Hurricane Ida. Every solution utilized is a lesson to take into future crises and disaster response scenarios.


In a rapidly-unfolding crisis, an organization that gets bogged down with hierarchy and job descriptions is bound to fail. During and after Ida, there was only one job for Bernhard crews: whatever was necessary to keep client facilities whole and operating. Passing the buck is not an option.

Keeping the power on at client facilities after Ida meant keeping the generators running, which required thousands of gallons of diesel fuel per day. Suppliers who had previously serviced those facilities couldn’t find a route to deliver more fuel due to downed power lines and inundated roads. Bernhard used our logistics and transportation experience to deliver more than 200,000 gallons of diesel in the first five days after the storm.

It wasn’t necessarily our job. But we did it, because that’s what it took to fulfill our mission for our clients. Bernhard’s national footprint allows us the unique capability to better assist with logistical and resource challenges for any type of disaster.

Every experience with a natural disaster is an opportunity to learn. The lessons Bernhard teams take from our experiences in Ida and other disasters makes us stronger and more resilient when the next storm inevitably comes calling.

Ready to learn more about Bernhard’s disaster response services, including our efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and recent natural disasters? Visit

The Role of Asset Management in Providing Long-Term Solutions

What is Asset Management?

Bernhard’s Asset Management services provide for comprehensive operation and management of energy assets for all Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) projects. Our focus is on sustainable, long-term solutions that enable customers to achieve energy efficiency and reduce risk associated with central energy plant operation, maintenance, and capital renewal.

We have a dedicated, in-house team of experts who work collaboratively to deliver the right solutions for each customer and each site. An invaluable benefit of Bernhard’s approach is the flexibility and scalability of our team. Regardless of EaaS project size, we scale our team to streamline the project, encourage cross-functional communication, and meet the customer’s expectations and needs.

Our Asset Management team provides for:

  • Operations and Maintenance: Operate your facility and provide resources and solutions needed to maintain energy-efficient operations over the contract term.
  • Emergency and Disaster Response: Ensure preparedness for hurricanes, natural disasters, COVID-related response leveraging a national network of resources and logistics.
  • Capital Planning: Create and execute a long-term plan for capital renewal to keep facility operational and energy efficient.
  • Off-Takers: Identify and market chilled water service to sites nearby to which surplus capacity can be sold.

Asset Management brings together all Bernhard’s service offerings through the lifecycle of an EaaS project. Our work begins with the governance created to manage execution and continues through construction and operations of the upgraded facility to the long-term maintenance and renewal projects needed to maintain energy efficiency through the contract term.

Fulfilling the Energy Efficiency Guarantee

By combining the expertise of engineering, mechanical, and electrical divisions, we guarantee standards are met, and execution is seamless from initial operations turnover through contract completion. Our Asset Management team is the “boots on the ground” staff ensuring the designed solution is properly executed and performs as intended.

Bernhard’s customized maintenance programs leverage preventative and predictive maintenance strategies ensuring energy assets operate at peak efficiency. Through regular monitoring and detailed planning, our team proactively addresses potential issues before they negatively impact energy efficiency or operations.

Bernhard Connect® is key to our operations program. Connect is Bernhard’s cloud-based platform for automatic fault detection, measurement and verification, and continuous data collection and archival. With Connect, operations staff have direct access to real-time energy and performance analytics with the push of a button.

The platform provides new levels of monitoring and control, resulting in greater energy and operational efficiencies. Backed by Bernhard’s energy engineers, Connect enables operations staff to quickly identify and resolve issues and ensure operations fulfill–or exceed–the project’s energy savings guarantee.

Integrated Staffing Resources

We recognize staffing for operations and maintenance teams is a challenge. Finding, training, and retaining capable staff for facility operations takes significant time and requires expertise outside of a customer’s core business. Bernhard’s approach to Asset Management reduces this risk by staffing resources for facility operation and providing technical knowledge through a robust training and safety program.

Our on-site teams integrate into the operations at each customer’s site—from the logos on our uniforms to our approach to budgeting. We work collaboratively with leadership at each facility to ensure our team is seen as an extension of the customer’s staff. We partner with our customers on capital planning, operational budgeting, and other issues to ensure the best and most fruitful decisions are made to prepare for future growth and maintain efficient operations.

Beyond a Facilities Team

Bernhard’s on-site operations staff are more than a facilities team. Our employees are backed by the skills and expertise of a national, engineering and construction firm with more than 2,000 employees. We bring resources, knowledge, expertise, and a national network with the ability to fully support a facility’s needs.

Leveraging our national footprint, our on-site staff bring long-term solutions to fulfill a customer’s needs. We can partner on and provide solutions for projects that fall outside of a typical O&M provider’s scope. Our teams have the in-house capability to execute turnkey solutions and provide subject matter expertise on a wide range of issues related to facility operations, maintenance, design, construction, and more.

We are not just an O&M provider: we are a construction manager, engineer, energy analyst, controls specialist, and much more. Choosing Bernhard for Asset Management is partnering with a long-term solutions provider.

Bernhard Leading Commissioning Service for Net-Zero Climate Innovation Center in Utah


Utah Clean Energy, a nonprofit leader in climate solutions, announced last month the public phase of their capital campaign to build the “Climate Innovation Center” in downtown Salt Lake City with an announcement ceremony. Bernhard, the largest privately-owned Energy-as-a-Service company in the United States, is providing an in-kind commissioning service for this net-zero office project. Bernhard’s Commissioning team provides an unbiased, objective view of the commissioned system’s installation, operation and performance ensuring that the facility and systems operate safely, reliably, and efficiently resulting in a healthy environment for all building occupants. When completed, the Climate Innovation Center will renovate a 70-plus-year-old building to become one of the city’s most high-performance, net-zero buildings.

“Bernhard, and previously ETC Group, has been a long-time partner of Utah Clean Energy and its net-zero vision from the very beginning,” says Glen Anderson, PE, Senior Vice President of Innovation at Bernhard. “We are excited to add our skill sets to Utah Clean Energy’s Climate Innovation Center. Commissioning is an essential step for this facility to run efficiently and to achieve net-zero.”

Energy used in our existing homes and buildings contributes up to 40% of U.S. energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, but those emissions can be drastically decreased by renovating building stock to be ultra-energy efficient. In addition to serving as the organization’s headquarters, the Climate Innovation Center will serve as a living laboratory that will educate the public and the business community about the tremendous role that buildings have in solving our climate crisis, and the ways to renovate and build for a healthy climate. Beyond the standard Commissioning reviews, Bernhard will be providing energy suggestions for PV Solar and Battery, which will be crucial for Utah Clean Energy to achieve Zero Energy Certification.

The announcement event was highlighted by the filling of a time capsule by attendees, who were invited to add a note capturing their vision and hopes for a healthy future. The capsule will be opened 20 years later, in 2042, at which time future generations will have the opportunity to reflect on the progress made in mitigating climate change.

Science-Based Targets: Overview and Its Implications to Corporations and Energy Industry

by Jim Crockett, PE


There has recently been an important, but largely underreported, tidal shift in the world of carbon emissions and greenhouse gas reduction. Many of the world’s largest companies have voluntarily set internal energy reduction targets and committed to achieve them. This will send ripples throughout the entire business world. In the near future, a company’s carbon footprint might give it a competitive edge – or might put it out of business.

Science Based Targets

Science Based Targets (SBT) is an organization that helps companies set energy reduction targets and records their commitments. Targets are considered science-based if they are in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement–limiting global warming to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C. Participants can commit to following either trajectory: 1.5°C (aggressive) or 2.0°C (less aggressive).

Large Multi-National Corporate Participation

As of June 1, 2022, more than 3,000 companies have signed up with the SBT website, and the number is growing quickly. Of the companies who have joined, 1,090 have made net-zero commitments, and 1429 have opted for the 1.5°C trajectory, coming in just under 50%.

Apple, Dell Technologies, General Motors, and Walmart, for example, are four of the 732 companies that have committed to 1.5°C trajectories. Their commitments are as follows:

  • General Motors commits to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 72% by 2035 from a 2018 base year. General Motors Company commits to reduce scope 3 GHG emissions from use of sold products of light duty vehicles 51% per vehicle kilometer by 2035 from a 2018 base year. The target boundary includes biogenic emissions and removals from bioenergy feedstocks.
  • Apple commits to reduce absolute combined scope 1, 2 and 3 GHG emissions 62% by FY2030 from a FY2019 base year. Apple also commits to continue annually sourcing 100% renewable electricity through FY2030.
  • Dell Technologies commits to reduce scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 50% by 2030 from a 2019 base year. Dell Technologies commits to reduce direct material suppliers GHG emissions 60% per revenue over the same time frame. The company also commits to reduce the energy intensity of their product portfolio 80% by 2020, using a 2011 base year.
  • Walmart commits to reduce absolute scopes 1 and 2 GHG emissions 35% by 2025 and 65% by 2030 from a 2015 base year. Walmart will also work to reduce CO2e emissions from upstream and downstream scope 3 sources by one billion tons between by 2030 from a 2015 base year.

Given the size of these four companies alone, achieving reduction targets would be a significant achievement. However, the scope of this reduction is even bigger than it seems.

Scope 1, 2, and 3 Targets

To fully understand the impact of these goals, we need to understand what Scopes 1, 2, and 3 represent.[ii]

  • Scope 1 refers to emissions generated at the participant’s site(s). Fuel-burning equipment, such as furnaces, water heaters, and ovens, would all fall under Scope 1.
  • Scope 2 refers to the emissions generated off-site to create energy that you consume (such as electricity, chilled water, or steam).
  • Scope 3 refers to “all indirect emissions that occur in the value chain of the reporting company, including both upstream and downstream emissions.”
The Market Impact of Scope 3 Targets

Scope 3 reduction targets completely change the game.

General Motors can’t simply reduce the GHG emissions of their factories alone. They must also reduce the downstream emissions of their products, i.e., their vehicles, by 51% by 2035.

It means that Apple must reduce the GHG emissions of its suppliers by 62% by 2030.

Dell has committed to reduce the emissions of its direct material suppliers by 60% by 2030.

Walmart must reduce the emissions of its suppliers by the equivalent of one billion tons of CO2 by 2030. (One billion tons is roughly the annual carbon footprint of 200 million American homes.)

And those are just 4 companies out of 3,091.

Potential Implications (and Opportunities)

The impact of Scope 3 cannot be overstated. Scope 3 not only requires companies to reduce their own emissions, but to reduce the emissions of their customers and suppliers. Suppliers might find themselves contractually obligated to hit emission reduction targets if they wish to continue doing business with SBT program participants.

This will create emissions reduction pressure for existing suppliers but might also present opportunities for potential suppliers with a better handle on their emissions. Large companies with SBT targets could reduce their Scope 3 emissions by replacing an existing supplier with a supplier with lower GHG emissions.

Energy Industry Is Changing

At Bernhard, we are already seeing a change in the attitudes of our current and potential clients. Historically, most of our customers were primarily interested in saving money; now they’re responding to internal and external pressures due to SBTs.

Some companies have achieved their goals by purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). However, the nature of RECs includes inherent market uncertainty and risk. Many corporations have set their sights inward, focusing on energy-saving upgrades to their own facilities, making them more sustainable and energy efficient.

If you are thinking about adopting Science-Based Targets or just want to reduce your energy spend, Bernhard can help. Contact us at

Jim Crockett, PE, has 25 years of experience in the HVAC industry and 15 years specializing in energy efficiency. At Bernhard, Jim has been the senior engineer on HVAC Energy Efficiency projects around the world and has provided technical guidance in support of the  engineering staff and Monitoring-Based Commissioning program. Jim holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Brigham Young University and an MBA with Finance Concentration from Southern Methodist University. He is a registered Professional Engineer in AZ, CA, FL, ID, KS, MT, NM, TX, UT, and WA and is the recipient of the 2021 AEE Region V Engineer of the Year Award. Jim has presented at AEE World, AEE Arizona, APPA, and EMA webinars. His article on Science-Based Target has been published in Utah Construction & Design Magazine’s 2022 March/April issue.