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Updated: April 15, 2024 Shop Talk

Q&A: NORESCO is expanding its business of saving energy

A man in a suit in front of a blue background Photo | Courtesy of NORESCO Len Busha, vice president, marketing at NORESCO

Nestled in the hub of Westborough, NORESCO has cemented itself in the world of energy performance contracting. NORESCO helps companies create sustainable strategies, create facility improvements, and modernize technology to help them become environmentally friendly while cutting energy costs.

A bio box on Len Busha of NORESCO
Len Busha bio box

Since its founding in 1984, NORESCO has guaranteed more than $5 billion in energy cost savings at more than 10,000 facilities, spanning the globe from Massachusetts to Japan. NORESCO claims to have reduced customer CO2 emissions by more than 25 million metric tons. In its latest project, the energy solutions company entered into a contract to deliver $27 million in infrastructure upgrades at the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina.

What services does NORESCO offer?

Our core business has historically been energy performance contracting, a method that completes building improvements, reduces energy and water use, and pays for them with the associated cost savings. As the marketplace changed, we grew to include sustainability and decarbonization services.

How does your company put sustainability and clean energy into action?

It’s hard to single out examples from so many projects. Our sustainability services business, for example, consults the California Energy Commission on the state’s building energy code. NORESCO is serving as the technical consultant on the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ Building Decarbonization Retrofits for Commercial and Multifamily Buildings Guide. Regarding clean energy, NORESCO has implemented everything from wind to geothermal and more than 32,000 kilowatts of solar installations. One of our coolest photovoltaic installations is a 1-megawatt system at a Federal Aviation Administration facility in California.

What are some of NORESCO's greatest accomplishments?

We’re excited to celebrate our 40th anniversary this year. We were at the forefront of the energy services industry in 1984, and we’ve grown our capability to be at the forefront of the modern energy transition today.

It took a lot of great projects and great customers to get here, but we’re super proud to have customers like the Town of Reading, University of Rhode Island, Virginia Beach City Public Schools, and the U.S. Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan.

The work at Naval Base Yokosuka includes a complex central energy plant. To be entrusted with that sort of work at such a mission-critical defense facility is something we’re very proud of at NORESCO.

What are the business benefits to updating infrastructure to more environmentally friendly technologies?

It used to mainly be energy cost savings, but benefits increasingly include meeting decarbonization goals, complying with local energy codes or conservation mandates, and boosting resiliency. By resiliency, I’m talking about dealing with challenges like grid congestion resulting in businesses having to periodically reduce electric demand, and the benefit of things like diversifying power supply. Solutions include using technologies like renewable energy, microgrids, and electric vehicle charging.

How has NORESCO grown as an organization?

When I joined NORESCO 24 years ago, the company was less than half its current size. Because we do everything from sustainability consulting to implementing and even operating and maintaining complex projects, it’s a multi-disciplinary environment. We’ve hired aggressively to meet the massive opportunity presented by the modern energy transition.

What are some of NORESCO's goals for the future?

The solidification of decarbonization and resilience as market drivers presents a great opportunity for NORESCO to broaden our offerings to meet the needs of the energy transition for both public and private customers. That includes commercial and industrial customers looking for the competitive advantage coming not only from improving energy efficiency but increasing operational efficiency and resiliency of energy infrastructure.

That’s our goal, to broaden our offerings beyond performance contracting and expand the range of customers we serve.

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by WBJ Correspondent Sloane M. Perron.

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