For his newest business, energy industry pioneer George Sakellaris has an ambitious vision. Thanks to clearly delineated goals and strategic acquisitions, he’s already realized almost all that he set out to achieve. Dan Harvey reports how Ameresco Inc. has grown large and risen high in only six years.
When the state of Nevada recently needed to upgrade the lighting, air conditioning and control systems and lower maintenance costs at two government buildings in Las Vegas, it turned to Ameresco Inc., a single-source provider of a wide range of energy-related services.
Headquartered in Framingham, Mass., Ameresco possesses a regionalized organizational structure that enables it to better serve clients anywhere in the United States and Canada. In this particular case, Ameresco helped the state save electrical costs by performing a lighting retrofit in two buildings, upgrading old lighting technology to T8 lamps with electronic ballasts and reflectors. In addition, the company upgraded a chilled water system at one building and upgraded controls at both buildings to direct digital control. Further, another state government building was surrounded by five acres of grass that consumed an excessive amount of water for irrigation. Ameresco converted that turf to desert “xeriscape,” in the largest conversion of turf to desert landscaping in Nevada.
The combined results of these measures included increased occupant comfort, reduction of operations and maintenance costs and the saving of more than 10 million gallons of irrigation water annually. This is the kind of success that Ameresco, Inc. routinely engineers for its clients. In only a very short time, Ameresco Inc. has become North America’s largest independent energy solutions provider. Its success is directly attributable to the ambitious vision of its founder, George Sakellaris, who established the company in 2000.
Traversing Market Sectors
Since, Ameresco has garnered a large client list that covers the commercial, government, housing, and industrial sectors. For commercial-market clients, Ameresco helps increase profitability through both supply-side and demand-side solutions. For retail companies in this sector, Ameresco helps them reinvest savings from energy projects back into core business activities such as marketing, merchandising, or product development.
Clients served in the government sector include federal agencies, the military, and state, city, town and county agencies. For these clients, Ameresco focuses on upgrading or renewing facilities, reducing energy consumption and operating costs, capturing opportunities created by deregulation, mitigating energy-related risks and costs and implementation of new energy strategies (such as distributed generation, cogeneration, electric-to-gas conversions, geothermal heat pumps, landfill reclamation, etc.).
In the industrial market, the Ameresco staff works with leading North American companies to lower costs, improve productivity and profitability, and stabilize energy budgets. In doing so, it goes beyond the traditional scope of energy-services companies by addressing process and process-related systems, power quality and reliability, and comprehensive energy and environmental management.
Clients in the institutional sector include public and private schools, colleges and universities, hospitals and other healthcare facilities, and correctional institutions. For such clients, Ameresco assists in the renewal of aging facilities, operations improvements, and cost reductions. Another representative example of a successful project is the work Ameresco performed for Boeing, the leading aircraft manufacturing company. Boeing had been outsourcing non-core functions like energy generation. As it was reaching the end of a 35-year thermal energy outsourcing agreement, it sought an energy-generation partner to modernize and operate the central thermal plant for their Space & Communications facility in Huntington Beach, Calif. It turned to Ameresco.
In response, Ameresco created a carefully designed, step-by-step program that would result in a more efficient and cost-effective energy plant. It not only accomplished Boeing’s objectives; it completed the plant modernization program while enabling the customer to maintain full delivery capabilities. The new, fully automated energy generation infrastructure (which includes 5,500 tons of chilled water and 56 MMBtu of high-temperature hot water) improved efficiency, reliability and environmental performance. Moreover, Boeing gained flexibility for future operational requirements.
Targeting the Top
Because Sakellaris has essentially achieved his first two business goals, his company has realized outstanding growth. “Through 2005, we had a compound annual growth of 70 percent,” he reports. “The organic growth was 58 percent, so the acquisitions brought it up to the 70-percent mark.”
As for Sakellaris’ third business goal, reaching the top position in its markets, Ameresco isn’t quite there yet, but it is mighty close. Currently, the company is in the top three. When you consider how far the company has come in only six years, realization of this final goal can’t be too far away.