Sustainable Utility Partnerships Revolutionizing Energy Efficiency Efforts

We are always looking for the next great idea to help solve America’s energy challenges. Our focus is making our clients’ energy infrastructure more resilient, more robust and ready for whatever comes next.

The latest innovation from Bernhard: Sustainable Utility Partnerships (SUP). An outgrowth of the Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) agreements Bernhard has been employing for more than a decade to help clients realize millions in annual energy savings, Sustainable Utility Partnerships allow Bernhard to share excess energy produced at EaaS partner facilities with other nearby entities who need efficient and reliable power.

Facilities who choose to join as a SUP or with Bernhard can see a host of benefits, including lower greenhouse gas emissions per kilowatt hour used, reduced expansion and renovation costs and a more stable and reliable energy, all without big capital expenditures.


To understand SUP, it’s important to understand the basics of EaaS.

More than ten years ago, an epidemic of deferred maintenance, cobbled-together technologies and failing energy infrastructure was impacting budgets and mission-critical services at hospitals, universities and other large campuses nationwide. Those issues were particularly a problem in Bernhard’s home state of Louisiana, where powerful hurricanes can unexpectedly threaten facilities where lives literally depend on keeping energy flowing. In response, Bernhard helped pioneer the concept of Energy-as-a-Service agreements in the United States.

An emerging market sector that provides an alternative to typical customer-funded or financed energy projects, the EaaS model allows clients to partner with a service provider like Bernhard to manage the client’s complete energy portfolio needs.

Under an EaaS agreement, a large, multi-facility client like a hospital campus agrees to transfer the authority to operate, manage and upgrade on-campus energy systems to Bernhard for a term of years. The client then makes monthly payments to Bernhard for managing those systems. The regular payments are why EaaS is often called a “subscription-based” energy model.

Large facilities go from the uncertainty of never knowing what their energy and infrastructure costs will be month-to-month to knowing what they’ll be exactly with precise consistency. In addition, Bernhard assumes responsibility for keeping the power flowing and fixing anything that breaks. The stress of managing a large operation disappears.

As part of an EaaS agreement, Bernhard substantially upgrades and retrofits partner facilities in a quest for every possible efficiency. Depending on the project, that often means upgrading energy generation and transmission infrastructure to much more efficient systems, including at the EaaS partner’s Central Energy Plant. For many Bernhard clients, the result is annual energy savings totaling millions per year and — in many cases — excess power the campus doesn’t need.


If upgrades completed by Bernhard during an EaaS partnership result in surplus energy output from the Central Energy Plant (CEP) at a large facility, Bernhard can offer that excess energy to nearby entities who might want to form a SUP. Potential SUP partners could include schools, private businesses or other large facilities that need affordable, reliable, responsibly-produced power.

Once a SUP agreement has been reached, Bernhard covers the upfront costs required to interconnect the CEP to the SUP partner facility. Once the connection has been made, Bernhard implements a series of energy conservation measures at the SUP partner facility to make it much more efficient. These measures may include lighting upgrades and retrofits, retro-commissioning, water conservation, upgrades to controls and more. In exchange, the SUP partner makes a recurring monthly payment to Bernhard under what’s known as a thermal services agreement.

The benefits to SUP partner facilities are much the same as those realized by the original EaaS partner, including much greater efficiency, savings on annual energy bills, more stable energy costs, operations and maintenance cost savings and more.

SUP partners must be within a limited area around a facility upgraded through an EaaS by Bernhard. However, because Bernhard EaaS projects are often located in densely-populated areas, there’s potentially hundreds of organizations located near Bernhard EaaS projects that could benefit from a Sustainable Utility Partnership.

Bernhard is always looking for the next big idea in energy for our clients and partners. Want to see if a Sustainable Utility Partnership with Bernhard could help your organization reach decarbonization goals while saving money through greater efficiency? Visit us online at, or call 504-833-8291.