An interview with Frank Salensky – CEO, Greffen Systems
What is the primary role of your technology in a boiler facility?
Greffen has the United States Distribution rights for the M2G Boiler Controller. Hydronic Boilers are purchased with the intent to have the capability to heat the facility on the coldest day of the year. They are oversized for the customer’s needs, especially in the shoulder months. In these shoulder months even though there is a reduced demand for heat in the facility, the boiler will still continue to fire to keep the temperature constant in the distribution loop. These unnecessary firings are called dry cycles. The M2G is a microprocessor based technology that can distinguish whether there is a real demand for heat for the facility or whether the boiler is dry cycling. By holding the boiler from firing the M2G can reduce unnecessary cycling by over 50% and offer energy savings from 7% - 25%.
How can the M2G control system impact the environment?
The M2G will reduce natural gas, oil or propane usage by up to 25% in facilities in which it is installed. This is directly proportional to CO2 savings and a 20% energy savings equates to a 20% CO2 savings as well.
What are the competitive advantages of the M2G compared to similar types of energy and emissions saving technologies?
At a fully installed price of only $7,700 including a three year onsite warranty, there is nothing that can match the performance of the M2G with a full return on investment which is normally well under two years. With over 50 major customers including Baylor, Carolinas HealthCare, Lockheed, Yahoo, Bell Helicopter, Pfizer, The Internal Revenue Service, Motorola and the vetting by both CB Richard Ellis and Jones Lang LaSalle the M2G is a proven energy savings device and one of the very few energy savings solutions for hydronic boilers.
What misconceptions do you deal with when talking to potential customers about the M2G?
The M2G has been confused with a time delay product which holds the boiler off for a set time period. Time delay systems are ineffective because they randomly hold the boiler from firing and do not dynamically adjust to a facility’s requirements for heat. The M2G is not a time delay system because it collects and analyzes the return and supply water temperature changes every ten seconds to determine if there have been any significant changes in the distribution loop to justify a call for heat. Furthermore the M2G is a “set and forget” technology in that if the target temperature of the distribution loop is changed by something like an outdoor temperature reset, the M2G will recognize that a change has taken place and automatically adjust the M2G’s settings to account for the new temperature targets.
Who is your direct customer – a property owner, a contractor or a boiler company, and why?
Greffen’s customer is the property owner and/or the facility management company that manages the buildings. As an example, we are working closely with CB Richard Ellis and Jones Lang LaSalle in organizations such as Yahoo!, Electronic Arts, Baylor and Wells Fargo. Greffen is also working directly with organizations such as the Internal Revenue Service, Carolinas Health Care, Bell Helicopter and The University of South Carolina. Anyone who is tasked with reducing either their own or their customer’s energy costs will benefit from installing the M2G on their hydronic boilers.
What are your strategies to communicate with and educate these customers?
The M2G is an easily understood technology with our customers. Many of our installed customers have done pilots within their facilities to prove the technology and savings within their respective organizations. To date Greffen has performed 51 paid evaluations with outstanding results. We have also worked with our customers to perform year-over-year evaluations of their gas usage for the year before and the year after the M2G was installed. In organizations such as the IRS, The University of Texas, Wells Fargo and Bell Helicopter these year-over-year studies have had outstanding results.
Have you sought partnerships with boiler manufacturers to incorporate the M2G into their control systems?
Greffen has had conversations with several boiler manufacturers concerning incorporating the M2G with their new boilers. While we may see the M2G as an offering from a boiler manufacturer in the coming year, the commentary is that when a new building is being constructed that the boilers are normally a very small part of the overall project. Given that the low bidder normally wins the project, a boiler that will meet the specifications is offered and unless specified in the bid process, no ancillary components are offered because it is an unnecessary cost for the bidder. So until the M2G (or its capabilities) are specified in the bid requirement, we will not see a real demand for the M2G’s requirements on new boilers.
What are the market barriers to greater deployment of the M2G?
There really are few market barriers to the greater deployment of the M2G in the United States. Many customers have recently completed their lighting retrofits and building automation projects. As they look to the next tier of energy savings projects, there are very few technologies that save natural gas in hydronic boilers. As long as the return on investment is under two years, customers are very open to look at new technologies. The M2G has been well vetted over a large geographic and diverse client base and the return on investment for a product that costs $7,700 fully installed is outstanding.
I imagine that the soft economy and the downturn in equipment retrofits have created obstacles for you. As the economy begins to re-bound, what type of facilities will you be prioritizing as likely customers?
Despite the soft economy we have been working very hard to make sure that Greffen has marketed the M2G nationally, that our client base understands how the M2G operates and that they can measure the associated savings. As the economy begins to rebound and more customers look to meet their energy savings objectives, Greffen is well positioned to grow nationally in both direct customer accounts as well as with the large facility management organizations that have been tasked with their customer’s sustainability programs.
What could gas utilities do to promote the deployment and acceptance of your product?
The gas utilities have been outstanding to work with over the last several years. Multiple utilities have tested the M2G and the results have shown significant energy savings, including year over year testing at customer locations that have installed M2Gs. Multiple utilities currently offer rebates for the M2G to their gas customers. Considering how few sustainability solutions are available to reduce gas usage in natural gas fired boilers, it would be fantastic to see more utilities offer rebates when their customers install the M2G in their respective market spheres.