Bernhard Advocates Employee Development with Creation of Young Professionals Program Offering Mentorship and Training

The past few years have turned business upside down, reshaping nearly everything we thought we knew about productivity, the office, collaboration, the role of management and how companies approach getting the job done.

One thing that hasn’t changed in business, however, is the value of professional development and the contacts and mentoring relationships that can truly shape a career.

Bernhard now offers their Engineering Division employees looking to access training and networking opportunities an avenue to bolster their careers with the Young Professionals Program. The program is free to join, and open to any Bernhard Engineering employee under the age of 30 or less than four years post-graduation from college.

So much more than a social event, Bernhard’s Young Professionals program is a four-year pathway, designed to help the next generation of Bernhard professionals truly make their mark on our company culture and long history. Through mentorship, coaching, networking opportunities, professional development and biannual group training events, the Bernhard Young Professionals program seeks to help every engineering team member fully realize their innate strengths and showcase their unique talents.

The program was developed to provide everything needed to make up for connection opportunities lost to the COVID-19 quarantine and hit fast forward on career goals:

  • Access to patient, knowledgeable mentors who have built careers at Bernhard and know what it takes to thrive.
  • One-on-one guidance, coaching, personalized experiences and focused attention.
  • Twice-yearly teambuilding and training events hosted at Bernhard’s offices in Little Rock. These one-day events will have topical sessions on issues like managing virtual collaboration, developing emotional intelligence, trust building and more. Some events will include external vendors.
  • Pop-up networking and professional enrichment events when members of the Bernhard engineering team travel to your area.
  • Free access to Bernhard’s extensive library of online training materials to boost your social, professional and technical skills, including courses on AutoCAD, Conflict Resolution, Jobsite Safety and more.

As a company with more than a century of history behind it, Bernhard is always looking for the next generation who will lead us to the bright future ahead.

For more about the Bernhard Young Professionals program or to join, contact Katie Thomas at

Inflation Reduction Act Provides Huge Incentives for Clean Energy Projects

By: Sam Selig

Signed into law by President Joe Biden on Aug. 16, 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) aims to reshape the way the United States uses, produces and stores energy while making significant strides toward the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

There’s no doubt the IRA will have a substantial impact on American energy. But, what does it mean for both existing and future energy projects? In short: lump-sum rebates from the government of at least 30 percent on qualifying projects, a boosted and likely locked-in Investment Tax Credit (ITC) rate until at least 2032, a large expansion to the types of projects that can qualify for tax credits and more. Put it all together, and the IRA creates a lot of incentive for nonprofit entities to go big on energy efficiency and clean power generation goals.

The experts at Bernhard break down the new IRA and what it means for the energy sector:

What is the IRA?

A scaled-back version of portions of the Build Back Better legislative package that stalled in the U.S. Senate earlier this year, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is still the most significant federal legislation passed so far in the 21st century when it comes to promoting decarbonization, the transition away from fossil fuels and clean energy production and storage.

Through changes to the IRS tax code and other measures, the IRA makes major investments in domestic energy production, efficiency and manufacturing, with a goal of reducing U.S. carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.

The act is funded with $737 billion per year raised through several revenue-building measures, including a new 15 percent corporate minimum tax projected to raise $222 billion per year, prescription drug pricing reform that will bring in approximately $265 billion per year, and enhanced IRS enforcement that will raise an estimated $124 billion per year.

From those funds, the act allocates a total of $437 billion per year for domestic spending, including $369 billion per year for Energy Security and Climate Change mitigation, $64 billion to extend the Affordable Care Act and $4 billion to enhance drought resiliency in western states.

The remaining $300 billion raised annually by provisions of the act will be put toward federal deficit reduction.

What does the IRA mean for Bernhard and our customers?

For large-scale energy customers and projects, the impact of the IRA is multi-faceted. The law appears to be very positive for Bernhard’s projects and customer base, particularly for large hospitals, universities and municipalities that are in the market to decarbonize and reach greater energy efficiency.

Key takeaways from the IRA:

Provides nonprofits with a lump sum cash reimbursement from the government equal to at least 30 percent of the total cost of eligible energy projects: For Bernhard’s customers, this might be the biggest news. Under new changes to Section 48, eligible energy transition projects undertaken by tax-exempt entities — including many universities, hospitals, municipal governments and more — now qualify for Investment Tax Credit (ITC) equal to at least 30 percent of a project’s total cost. That percentage is payable in a lump sum when the project goes online. We say “at least 30 percent” because eligible projects by nonprofits that meet certain very strict requirements — including projects built in low-income communities, in areas with significant fossil-fuel related employment, or which meet domestic content requirements — can claim bonuses amounting to up to 70 percent of total project costs.

Expands the types of projects that are eligible for ITC: Project categories eligible for ITC under Section 48 of the IRS code were expanded significantly under the IRA, and now include solar, wind, biomass electricity generation, battery or thermal energy storage technologies, qualified biogas properties, microgrid systems and qualified interconnection properties. To be eligible for ITC, projects must be placed in service after Jan. 1, 2023 and start construction prior to or during 2025. That means almost any large-scale clean energy project started between now and the end of 2025 by a nonprofit entity would be eligible for ITC.

Makes qualifying projects that are less than 1 megawatt in size jump through a lot fewer hoops to claim ITC rebates (but Bernhard has you covered, even if your project is bigger): Most on-site Bernhard energy production projects are smaller than 1 megawatt. That’s important to customers because under the changes made by the IRA, qualifying projects by nonprofit entities that are less than 1 megawatt in size are automatically eligible for at least 30 percent ITC. Build a $1-million solar plant for your campus that is smaller than 1 megawatt, submit those project costs to the U.S. Treasury and you’ll get a check for at least $300,000. Under the IRA, qualifying projects that are larger than 1 megawatt are subject to stricter requirements to receive ITC, including a stipulation that the contractor completing the project pay prevailing wages and have an apprenticeship program. Bernhard already meets both of those requirements, so eligible clients can supersize their projects to more than 1 megawatt without worrying about taking a financial hit.

Amends Section 48 of the IRS code to return the Investment Tax Credit rate to 30 percent: In recent years, the ITC rate on qualifying energy transition projects has been eroded. In 2020, the ITC rate was 30 percent. It was reduced to 26 percent in fiscal years 2021-2022. Had the IRA not been passed, the rate was scheduled to sink further to 22 percent in 2023. With the passage of the IRA, the ITC is now returned to a full 30 percent. That rate is likely locked in for at least the next ten years, as the IRA specifies a 30 percent rate through 2032, or until U.S. electricity production achieves a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, whichever comes first. Energy demand is expected to rise significantly over the next decade, which likely makes a 25 percent reduction in emissions a high bar. Unless there’s a surprise jump in energy efficiency, an unforeseen new energy generation technology is discovered or a successful effort to repeal the IRA, chances are we’ll see the IRA-adjusted ITC rate on qualifying projects stick around until at least 2032.

Amends IRS code 179D on Energy Efficient Property Deductions and significantly lowers the bar on what constitutes an Energy Efficient Property: As opposed to the cash ITC payments provided to eligible projects through changes to Section 48, the changes made by the IRA to IRS code section 179D relate to tax deductions for projects that realize significant energy efficiency in qualifying commercial buildings. While the threshold to claim these tax deductions was previously a sky-high 50 percent year-over-year reduction in energy usage, tax code changes in the IRA cut that in half, to a much more reasonable 25 percent reduction. These deductions are allocated on a sliding scale, based on square footage of the project building and the energy savings achieved. The deduction starts at $.50 cents per square foot for a 25 percent energy cost savings, then increases by $.02 cents per square foot for each percentage point of cost savings greater than 25 percent, up to a maximum deduction of $1 dollar per square foot. Most nonprofit commercial building efficiency projects undertaken by Bernhard realize year-over-year cost savings of much more than 25 percent.

Makes these “Energy Efficient Property Deductions” transferable to project contractors, which can sell them to offset fees: In other big news for eligible decarbonization clients, if the nonprofit entity undertaking a building-efficiency project doesn’t need the tax deductions, 179D now says those deductions can be transferred to the architects, engineers and designers responsible for the energy-efficiency plan that realized the cost savings. Once transferred, these tax credits can be sold by the contractor to other interested parties, including banks or other corporations. That change to 179D allows Bernhard to fold the anticipated sale price of those credits into the financials of our projects to offset fees, which could potentially lower clients’ final cost on eligible projects.

As with any legislation that deals with the IRS tax code, the changes made by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 can be difficult to understand. What comes through loud and clear from these changes, however, is the IRA is a monumental change to the energy sector in America, and a huge boost for energy efficiency and clean energy production.

The IRA is very big news for Bernhard customers, and a big incentive for universities, hospitals and other nonprofits that may be considering clean energy production projects or efficiency efforts. If your nonprofit has been considering making energy improvements but dreading the cost, Bernhard’s advice is to strike now while the iron — and the IRA — is hot.

About the Author:

Sam is the senior vice president of renewable energy for Bernhard. He is responsible for the development of solar and renewable energy projects across multiple sectors and the overall development of Bernhard’s renewable natural gas program. Sam is a Registered Professional Engineer and has over a decade of experience in project development, technical sales, and executing maintenance agreements to create strategic company growth and enhancement in the ESG realm.

Bernhard’s Tulane campus energy project a two-time finalist for 2022 P3 Awards


Bernhard announced today that a 30-year Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) partnership reached in January with Tulane University has been named a finalist for the 2022 P3 Awards in two categories.  Founded in 2018, the P3 Awards recognize excellence in public infrastructure projects that use private financing in long-term partnering agreements.

Known as Project RISE (Renew, Innovate, Sustain, Engage), the partnership between Tulane and Bernhard was named a finalist in the “Best Education and Higher Education Project” and “Best Energy Project” categories.

“At Bernhard, our teams are celebrated for being innovative and thinking outside-the-box,” said Rob Guthrie, Bernhard’s Chief Development Officer. “Being shortlisted for such a prestigious award in multiple categories is evidence that we are breaking new ground in what was once considered possible in energy efficiency.”

Announced in January 2022, Project RISE is designed to help Tulane University substantially reduce on-campus greenhouse gas emissions, with a goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. As part of the agreement, Tulane transferred to Bernhard the authority to operate, upgrade and maintain energy infrastructure at the university’s uptown and downtown campuses. Bernhard will complete a host of major energy infrastructure improvements at Tulane facilities as part of Project RISE, including construction of a 1-megawatt solar energy plant that will supply 10 percent of electrical demand at Tulane’s uptown campus.

“This P3 award nomination speaks to the innovation of the unique relationship between Tulane and Bernhard,” said Patrick Norton, Tulane University chief operating officer. “We are proud that Project RISE has been selected as a finalist in both of these categories, and that the university’s long-term commitment to sustainability and resilience has been recognized on a national scale.”

Tulane University president Michael Fitts said of Project RISE:  “The Bernhard and Tulane partnership will significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as we journey toward a carbon neutral future that also fully supports our critical research and educational missions. By increasing efficiency, building resilience and seeking alternative energy sources, we also expect to achieve the goal of a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses by 2025 as outlined in Tulane’s Climate Action Plan.”

In 2021, an EaaS partnership between Bernhard and East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Ala., was a finalist for the P3 Awards’ Best Social Infrastructure Project of the year. Winners of the 2022 P3 Awards will be announced on Oct. 11, 2022.

For more information about the P3 Awards, visit

Five years of excellence: Celebrating Bernhard’s pioneering 2017 Energy Asset Concession agreement with Ochsner Health

Bernhard has received our share of awards and accolades in our century of work, but it’s our ongoing partnerships with healthcare institutions that make us most proud. By helping hospital systems find innovative, on-budget solutions to their most pressing energy issues, Bernhard is strengthening America’s infrastructure and doing our part to prepare the nation for the healthcare challenges of tomorrow.

One of our most fruitful partnerships in recent years has been between Bernhard and Louisiana-based Ochsner Health. Celebrating 80 years of service to the community in 2022, Ochsner Health operates 40 hospitals and more than 300 urgent care and health centers across the Gulf South. Ochsner Health facilities treated more than 1 million patients in 2021, highlighting Ochsner’s role in the health and wellbeing of Louisiana.

This year marks the five-year anniversary of the landmark, first-of-its-kind Energy Asset Concession arrangement between Bernhard and Ochsner Health System. Ochsner and Bernhard are only one-third of the way through the original 15-year arrangement struck in 2017, but the partnership has already been a success, hardening critical infrastructure and saving Ochsner millions in energy costs per year.

Bernhard has since entered into similar 15-year Energy Asset Concession agreements with two other Ochsner Health facilities. In the process, we have upgraded critical infrastructure at these campuses while delivering substantial energy efficiency.

Combined, these projects have optimized energy usage for more than 3.4 million square feet of care and clinical space, with a combined annual energy savings of more than $2.7 million per year. Optimizing these facilities allows Bernhard and Ochsner to come together to prepare for whatever challenges may come.

2017: Ochsner Medical Center, New Orleans

In 2017, the flagship facility of Ochsner Health System, Ochsner Medical Center’s Jefferson Highway campus in New Orleans, entered into an innovative 15-year energy management agreement with Bernhard. The overall goal of the agreement is to help Ochsner Medical Center – New Orleans lower energy costs though substantial efficiency, equipment upgrades, mitigating operational risks and addressing long-term deferred maintenance.

The first of its kind, this Energy Asset Concession agreement transferred to Bernhard the right to operate, use and maintain the energy infrastructure of Ochsner Medical Center – New Orleans. The agreement was built on a solid foundation of trust between the two companies, nurtured by decades of successful service and construction projects Bernhard had completed at Ochsner facilities across Louisiana.

Bernhard constructed a new central energy plant to support the hospital’s 11-story West Tower expansion. To reduce demand on the existing central plant and improve operational efficiency, Bernhard instituted campus-wide energy infrastructure upgrades and retro-commissioning. Building automation systems were also upgraded to the latest technology, helping the facility better monitor and optimize energy use.

Once completed, Ochsner Medical Center – New Orleans’ new central energy plant was connected to the existing south campus main central plant. This created a district loop that serves more than 1.8 million square feet of facility space, providing more than 11,000 tons of chilled water capacity for the campus. Bernhard also upgraded Ochsner Medical Center’s north campus energy plant with more efficient pumping and piping.

Only five years in, this pioneering agreement between Bernhard and Ochsner Health has achieved its goal of a sustained reduction of energy use on the Ochsner Medical Center – New Orleans, exceeding initial projections of $2.4 million in annual energy savings.

2018: Ochsner Medical Complex – The Grove, Baton Rouge

Building on the successful partnership between Bernhard and Ochsner Medical Center – New Orleans, Bernhard and Ochsner entered into another 15-year Energy Asset Concession agreement in 2018 related to the under-construction Ochsner Medical Complex – The Grove in Baton Rouge. The five-story, 255,000 square foot medical office building would include a 10-bed hospital and surgical center and house 85 medical providers.

Bernhard provided an energy savings guarantee for the full term of the project, implementing O&M operator training, remote support services and measurement and verification.

With a projected opening date for the facility in early 2019, timelines were tight. To help Ochsner deliver this critically-needed facility on schedule and on budget, Bernhard flexed our logistical and organizational muscle. Coordination between design, construction and heavy trades was crucial for success. Knowing that, Bernhard streamlined the process, constantly re-evaluating the project and adjusting tactics and resource allocation. The biggest obstacles to the construction schedule were weather and site logistics, but together, Bernhard and Ochsner met every challenge.

In January 2019, a little over ten months after Ochsner and Bernhard made history by signing our second 15-year Energy Asset Concession, Ochsner Medical Complex – The Grove opened to serve the people of Baton Rouge. With Bernhard aboard to help find efficiency in every system, the complex is well-prepared for an ever-changing energy future, and is already realizing annual energy savings of $234,000.

2020: Ochsner Baptist Medical Center, New Orleans

In September 2020, Bernhard and Ochsner entered our third historic Energy Concession Agreement. Staffed by more than 600 physicians and specialists, Ochsner Baptist Medical Center is a vital part of New Orleans’ healthcare ecosystem. The hospital campus features more than 677,000 square feet of treatment space, including a 6,000-square-foot ER with two trauma rooms and the Ochsner Baptist Women’s Pavilion.

The ongoing project between Bernhard and Ochsner Baptist implemented electrical infrastructure upgrades at the campus, creating redundancy of building systems while improving their reliability and resilience, especially during adverse events like hurricanes. In addition to making mechanical enhancements to Ochsner Baptist’s central energy plant chilled water and tower water systems, Bernhard installed a security system in the central plant.

Bernhard also delivered campus-wide improvements to energy infrastructure, including the hospital’s water heating system, air handling units, steam system and electrical systems. Further efficiencies were realized through retro-commissioning efforts that installed more energy efficient lighting systems as well as upgraded building automation systems.

Together, these efforts have resulted in estimated annual energy savings of $775,000 per year for Ochsner Baptist, while helping this crucial part of New Orleans’ healthcare landscape stay resilient for decades to come.

Partnership for the Future

In the five years since Ochsner Health and Bernhard struck our pioneering Energy-as-a-Service agreement, our partnerships have remained strong. That includes Bernhard being on-site at all three Ochsner sites during the chaos of Hurricane Ida and its aftermath in 2021. Today, our work continues, realizing even further infrastructure improvements and delivering millions per year in energy savings. We are proud to continue teaming with Ochsner Health to meet existing and future challenges head-on while keeping the Gulf Coast healthy for years to come.

Ready to see what Bernhard can do to help your large facility group meet tomorrow’s most pressing energy and infrastructure challenges? Learn how Energy-as-a-Service works or contact our team today.