Energy Solutions: The Four A’s to Energy Efficiency
Over the past three weeks, we have discussed ways to save energy through everyday operational changes, HVAC efficiency, and water conservation. But to truly see the impact of energy on your bottom line, you must dive into the specifics of your building with the four A’s to energy efficiency: Accumulate, Analyze, Act, Assess.
Accumulate energy consumption data.
Your first step towards energy efficiency is to accumulate your energy use data. As they say, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.
Under the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008, public buildings 10,000 square feet and larger and private buildings 50,000 square feet and larger are responsible for reporting and benchmarking their energy and water consumption through ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager. While most public buildings in the district have already begun submitting their energy management data, private buildings are being phased in by size.
According to the most updated timeline by the District Department of the Environment (DDOE):
- Buildings over 200,000 square feet must submit 2010 and 2011 data by
November 2012April 1, 2013**
- Buildings between 150,000 and 200,000 square feet must submit 2011 data by
November 2012April 1, 2013**
- Buildings over 100,000 square feet must submit data for 2012 by April 1, 2013
- Buildings over 50,000 square feet must submit data for 2013 by April 1, 2014.
**In the release of the final rulemaking on January 18, 2013 , the DDOE extended these submission due dates to April 1, 2013
After the first data input, all subsequent years of data is due on April 1 for all buildings larger than 50,000 square feet. Those who are not in compliance can face charges up to $100 per day. The DDOE will make this benchmarking data accessible to the public. Being able to show how your building ranks among the top buildings in the area could be an advantage in keeping current tenants happy and enticing new tenants to your building.
All utility and water bills must be collected and hand entered into ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager, which can be very time consuming and labor intensive. However, there are several energy management programs that can make this accumulation of data more automated and less labor intensive.
One such program, EnergyPrint, is an online management dashboard that works directly with the utility companies to accurately input your utility history and updates monthly. EnergyPrint displays the information in simple ways that make it easy to answer key questions about your building’s or portfolio’s energy use. EnergyPrint also links directly with ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager to keep the account updated, keeping you in compliance with DC’s Clean and Affordable Energy Act without any time or labor needed from you.
Analyze how energy is being used and opportunities to save.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 30 percent of the energy consumed by commercial buildings is used inefficiently or unnecessarily. Once you have accumulated your data, you can analyze it to see how and where that energy is being used. This will show you where you have opportunities to save.
If all of your data is accumulated by a program such as EnergyPrint, you will be able to quickly determine where you have opportunities to save. With both energy and financial data in one online location, members of your team are able to look at a specific building or your entire property portfolio. Since EnergyPrint also allows you to see the history of your energy use, going back two to three years, you can see trends based on cost, consumption, and carbon footprint over time. This history allows you to better identify the best opportunities for improvement.
Act on your energy solutions plan.
After analyzing and identifying opportunities for energy savings, it is time to develop and act on an energy solutions plan. Depending on your findings, this plan may focus on operational changes or it may focus on a redesign of your lighting system or HVAC system. Whatever the plan, ACTION is key.
Energy efficiency is so important to your bottom line and your overall investment in your building. According to the EPA, with energy accounting for the largest operating expense for offices, decreasing energy use by 30% is comparable to raising NOI and building asset value by 5%.
With DC’s Clean and Affordable Energy Act, your building’s energy ranking will be public knowledge. It will become even more important to be able to show your commitment to energy efficiency and your improvements over the years.
Assess your energy solutions efforts.
Once you put your plan into action, assess how your energy solutions aided in your energy efficiency. Did your efforts improve you energy efficiency? Is this plan one that you should try in other buildings? How else can you improve?
With a program like EnergyPrint, which keeps track of your energy trends and allows you to add notes about changes to your building that affect energy, you can easily assess the results of your efforts. With EnergyPrint’s cost avoidance analysis, you can graphically see your monetary savings on utility bills after an energy savings project is performed.
By following the four A’s to energy efficiency – Accumulate, Analyze, Act, Assess—you will be able to decide on and fulfill an energy management and energy solutions plan that will not only impress your tenants, but will also impact your wallet and our world.