Archive for the ‘Energy assessment’ Category

Summer HVAC Wrap + BetterBricks Video

September 1st, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Before the summer winds to a close, The Building Advisor feels it deserves a look back. In addition to soaring heat waves, the summer’s energy efficiency news was telling.

First, go to our latest webinar on Getting to the Decision Makers – a summer triumph from BuildingAdvice in providing HVACs with the tools they need to educate building owners and managers on energy efficiency cost savings.

Best video series ever! Building Night Walks from NEEA’s BetterBricks’ YouTube Channel. Sorta like “The X Files” meets your life.

Here is one:

Johnson Controls (JCI) issued its annual Energy Efficiency Indicator (EEI) survey last June, [greenbiz.com's article here] asking executives responsible for energy use and real estate decisions how they feel about energy and how it’s affecting their business decisions. The top line bullet from over of over 4,000 property managers surveyed?

“Energy cost savings, government incentives and enhanced public image [are] the biggest motivators for energy-efficiency investments.”

Read the executive summary here, direct from the horse’s mouth.

CNBC (finally!) evaluated the report’s findings with a good, long look in this week’s article “Energy Price Volatility Now A Major Factor In Corporate Efficiency Drive.” As Trevor Curwin pointed out,

“‘Bottom-line energy costs savings’ is the biggest single reason for property managers to consider spending on energy efficiency projects, but ‘energy security’ jumped into the top-five list of concerns from out of nowhere.”

JCI’s research shows the average payback time for an energy efficiency project is 3.1 years. While “government and utility incentives” are huge drivers for the energy efficiency marketplace, the “Achilles heel” of most efficiency improvement projects is still financing.

Tom Konrad

Tom Konrad

Forbes blogger Tom Konrad did a great series on energy services stocks in June. His post The Sector Information Technology Forgot looks at how demand response – programs that offer incentives for business owners who curtail their facility’s energy use during times of peak demand - plays into energy efficiency programs, particularly EnerNOC’s.

Along that line, EnerNOC went public in June, and shortly thereafter the company announced Memphis City Schools Selects EnerNOC’s EfficiencySMART(TM) Insight to Improve System-Wide Energy Use.

Summer daze got you bored of reading? The recent proliferation of HVAC multimedia from your favorite trades should be enough to keep you entertained during lunches as the weather cools. Check out Contracting Business’ video portal, or the NEWS’ new podcast directory.

 Images courtesy Forbesarchiehopeful.wordpress.com.

Greener, Greater Buildings Are Here.

August 17th, 2011 by Jim Crowder
IBM's Jane Snowdon

IBM's Jane Snowdon

IBM Senior Manager Jane Snowdon guest blogged for CNBC this week, taking the opportunity to mull on New York City’s “Greener, Greater Buildings Plan.” Of course The Building Advisor called out the importance of this little alliterative city initiative back in April of 2010 (Greener, Greater, a Long Way Away?), but who’s counting?

Yep, it’s that old mandatory benchmarking and public disclosure idea again, but this time, it’s a lot closer to reality. It’s happening, people! August 1st deadline!

Not only does the DOE’s Energy Star program dictate the most readily-usable set of standards for evaluating a building’s energy usage, it makes buildings profitable, too. Snowdon shares:

A 2009 study by the University of San Diego found that Energy Star buildings — which rank among the most efficient in a pool of similar buildings — attracted 13 percent higher rental rates than the market average, with vacancy rates running about 3.5 percent lower.” – Jane Snowdon, CNBC

[More great research on how Energy Ratings Can Make Properties More Profitable.]

In states and cities where energy benchmark scores are required, they will be available on sites like BuildingRating.org (which also has a handy matrix of energy efficiency incentive programs nationwide. Bet there’s one in your city).

BuildingRating.org breaks down efficiency incentives state by state

BuildingRating.org breaks down efficiency incentives state by state

In a New York minute, 16,000 buildings are slated to begin collecting performance data. What’s more, The Greener Greater Buildings Plan has the potential to reduce citywide energy costs by $700 million annually by 2030 and help to create roughly 17,800 construction-related jobs over ten years.

Pointing out the falling cost of the kind of monitor-based, networked technology banks and airlines began employing a decade ago, Snowdon says it’s a great time for commercial real estate to embrace tech for energy savings. I mean, today its benchmarking and disclosure, tomorrow, automated analysis of efficiency investment potentials.

Oh wait. You can do that with BuildingAdvice right now. Right.

Oregon Facilities from Jengo Media

Oregon Facilities from Jengo Media

Say, have you seen the handsome set of facilities-minded, yet glossy and pretty print mags from Jengo Media? We’ve got our own Oregon Facilities here in the Northwest, but they have cognates for Arizona and Utah too. Western facilities managers have all the luck!

Interestingly, energy efficiency isn’t going over as big as some folks had hoped this week:

The Seattle Post Intelligencer reported Seattle green jobs program falls short of goals. It seems the program funds low-interest loans and incentives for buildings to do energy-efficient upgrades just doesn’t have enough takers.

Similarly, a small business loan program implemented in Arlington Heights, Ill. earlier this year could expire if interest doesn’t pick up, the Journal Online reported in Energy Program May Burn Out.

The moral of this story? Money from the government for energy efficient upgrades is sitting on the table, unused.

Lastly, Forbes reported Cisco Exits Energy-Management Software Market. What? Their energy-management products were designed to leverage Cisco’s prowess in the “dark arts of networking” for better controlling HVAC systems. But now they don’t wanna.

Are you missing summer camp? Revisit the magic of BOMA 2011 here:

That should cure it.

HVAC Technology and the Online Water Cooler

June 16th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Our friends at Software Advice have a great post up, Cut Apartment Energy Costs with Energy Monitoring Systems, which takes a look at how energy monitoring scales to the multifamily (apartment) building type. multifamily building

Though it smells like residential, multifamily is, of course, actually a commercial property type. When a multifamily owner wants to look at energy monitoring products, would s/he go for a whole building assessment through BuildingAdvice, or look into residential monitoring products like Google’s Powermeter or free Microsoft web application Hohm for each user? You tell us; that’s what blogs are for.

While Contracting Business columnist Vicki LaPlant touts the importance of social media, and commercial contractors are taking their rooftop service unit and replacement businesses to Facebook, The Building Advisor asks you to remember one thing: in the beginning, there were online bulletin boards.

hvac talk HVAC-TALK.com, a forum for online discussion hosted by Contracting Business that is by its own account, “a vibrant, active online community that connects HVAC professionals with a focus on the contracting marketplace.” If you, like me, dear reader, have your doubts about how many HVAC service contractors engage with social media and blogs, look no further. The new member introduction page has over 3,000 posts, the “Job Discussion” page is hopping of course, and just about all of the discussion pages have been commented on TODAY. Is this where all of our potential blog commenters are? Are online forums more suitable to the type of communication HVAC contractors are looking for? And why?

And while we’re on the topic of technology in the HVAC industry, you’ll notice the web video revolution sweeping our favorite publications. HPAC Engineering has a series on it’s front page, including this segment on Electro Static Technology on Shaft VFDs. Enjoy.

Images courtesy designhomesllc.com, HVAC-TalkHPAC Engineering.

Webinar on Demand, New York’s Energy Movement

June 9th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

First off, some eye candy! Did you know you can access Part 3 of BuildingAdvice’s How-To Webinar Series – Sales and Marketing Best Practices – at the Energy Services Resource Library?

coned energy efficiency summit new yorkThe New York Times (via Greenwire) reported on a sea change for existing NYC buildings in this week’s story, Skyscraper Owners Learn ABCs of LEDs in Push to Save Energy. Sparked by the Con Edison Energy Efficiency Summit, the event is indicative of what Greenwire called “an energy-efficiency movement that is transforming the city’s real estate market.” Quote:

The City Council is still considering a slew of recommendations offered last year by the Green Codes Task Force, a temporary alliance of building professionals charged by Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) to find ways to use building codes to force reductions in electricity use. But experts say the “green retrofitting” industry here is taking on a life of its own, independent of the expectations of the Bloomberg administration. – The New York Times via Greenwire

Additional factors cited for added emphasis on energy efficiency in the Big Apple:

  • Falling commercial rents in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis forced building owners to scramble for ways to reduce costs, and cutting energy use was at the top of many to-do lists.
  • The city’s buildings and their equipment are aging and due for refurbishment or replacement.
  • Commercial real estate transactions are down, so property companies are holding their buildings longer than at other times, encouraging them to make them more efficient.

Moreover, real estate professionals are discovering that energy efficient buildings command demand and better rents. And you don’t have to be LEED anymore to garner attention; insiders say the most influential projects do not carry the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) seal.

Perhaps the article’s nitty gritty was spoken by Michael Waite, a senior staffer at the engineering firm Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. who emphasized the need to spell out the cost-benefit equation to building owners.

“To make an investment, an owner wants proven technologies and some idea of the return on investment,” Waite said. “The lack of confidence in some measures is understandable — there is an investment required, the energy performance prediction tools are imperfect and every building responds differently.”

Another reason to get behind the scientific data collection, analyzation and reporting provided by BuildingAdvice. This “movement” – however exciting – is really a sign of the times resulting from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)’s energy efficiency incentive program enacted last year, as well as new statewide energy efficiency standards. The article has more on New York’s energy rebates, as well.

davinci middle school first LEED classroom

A skylight in the Evans – Harvard High Performance Classroom at the da Vinici Arts Middle School in Portland, Ore. was recently awarded LEED platinum certification – the first K-12 public school building to achieve this level of certification.

Right here in BuildingAdvice’s back yard, Ameresco announced multiple energy efficiency contracts with regional school districts including Portland Public Schools. The energy efficiency and renewable energy company announced it would conduct Investment Grade Audits under a new phase of a budget-neutral Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) with the district.

Nonsequitur: did you know the NEWS has its own LinkedIn Group? Your fave NEWSer editors Mike Murphy (get to know him better at his video blog Murphy’s Travels), Barb Checket-Hanks, and others are there.

If you don’t already know, Facilities.net has a handy Tip of the Day in text and audio format which is quick and informative. You might want to sign up for the RSS to get these tips delivered straight into your email. “Energy Model Can Improve HVAC System Energy Efficiency” caught our ear/eye recently. facilities.net's tip of the day

Non-non-sequitur (is that a sequitur?) if you listen to the soundbite at the above link: submetering: what do you think? Does it affect your business? How are you using it? If you could submeter your chiller plant, would you? Did anyone notice The Building Advisor put Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. and Prince into the same post? That’s how we roll.

Images courtesy Rethink Energy and Design, a blog from Better Bricks, Ameresco, Facilities.net.

Small Change, Big Rewards in Energy Efficiency

May 13th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

Our friends at Environmental Leader covered findings from a great report, Ten Ways to Slash Energy Cost & Reduce Budget Uncertainty, from enterprise software provider Verisae this week.

Small change can create big impact.

Small Efficiency Changes Save Big Bucks, Report Says cited big change from low-capital adjustments made by large scale grocery retailers, the largest energy consumers in the retail sector (who also reap the narrowest margins, making them excellent candidates for energy savings services). A few highlights from the list speak directly to the BuildingAdvice suite of energy services programs:

  • Monitor energy consumption in real time. (BuildingAdvice Verify’s measurement and verification capability provides ongoing, continuous monitoring to answer this need.)
  • Capture and analyze complete and accurate data from your utility bills. (Did you know BuildingAdvice automatically populates utility data into an Energy Benchmark Report, and saves that information for the next time you want to rebenchmark?)

Sidenote: industry studies show that one to three percent of all utility bills contain billing errors, the report pointed out.

Though the report concedes that the most noticeable savings comes from replacement of equipment, it found companies that have made continuous, small improvements have reaped huge rewards over time. (BuildingAdvice’s Energy Assessment Report is perfect for uncovering low- and no-cost adjustments to achieve energy savings.)

"General mandatory" sign in UK

In the UK, The Telegraph reported that Property bosses want energy efficiency displayed. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the property industry advocated for mandatory energy efficiency disclosure laws on commercial buildings. Currently, only public sector buildings are required to provide Display Energy Certificates (DECs) which rank their energy efficiency.

The letter warned that without a “level playing field,” the green credentials of buildings will never be improved.

Lastly, the Sacramento Bee reported Detroit Media Partnership Receives $150,000 Incentive for Energy Efficiency Projects through DTE Energy’s ‘Your Energy Savings’ Program

DTE Music Center: A better use for all that energy

That’s right, the nice people at Michigan utilities provider DTE have been itching to give away cash incentives for energy efficient upgrades since launching Your Energy Savings for residential and business customers in 2009. Customers can earn incentives if they make improvements from a list of qualified efficiency upgrades, including HVAC systems. The Bee reported:

Detroit Media Partnership received the funds for a chiller and heat exchanger replacement project. This incentive paid for 40 percent of the project, which included replacing chillers that were 40 years old.

 

Images courtesy fredlab‘s flickr stream, distinctivewebdesigns.com, UK’s Health and Safety.

Rebates for energy assessments: NYSERDA leads the charge

January 26th, 2011 by Jim Crowder

NYSERDA logoLook what NYSERDA is offering to energy customers in the state of New York: “NYSERDA offers low-cost energy assessments for commercial buildings”, costing only $100-400 for smaller buildings. They’ll split the energy assessment cost 50-50 with buildings that spend more than $75,000 per year on energy. Either way, it’s a great deal.

An article in The Ithaca Journal explains more about it. They correctly assert that cost-effective improvements can reduce energy costs by 20% or more and that it starts with an assessment. Energy efficiency is a priority for NYSERDA. Read more about their philosophy here. And see some of the specific funding opportunities and programs for

Why aren’t more utilities doing this? There are others, we realize that NYSERDA (which is not itself a utility, but is a separate energy-efficiency focused organization funded by state rate payers, so…a representative of multiple utilities) is not the only one. In fact, right here in Portland, the Energy Trust of Oregon (same type of model as NYSERDA) has a similar program. We love hearing about programs like these that make it easy and cost-effective for buildings of any size to get a better understanding of how much money they’re wasting on energy and where it can be cut. Better yet, the utilities are partnering with a network of service providers, including HVAC contractors and energy engineers, to get the jobs done. Everyone wins.

We’d love to hear about utilities and utility-funded entities in your area who are running similar programs. Have you done energy assessments through a utility? Leave a comment below and let us know about it.

Have You Seen Our Cool New Web Site?

December 3rd, 2010 by Jim Crowder

Ok, so, its not new anymore. We launched in November to quiet applause from the interwebs. But if you haven’t been to buildingadvice.us recently, there are some great new features we’d like to point out.

For one thing, our sleek new design, courtesy Synotac. Less text, more space…ahhh…efficiency visualized.

We’re also better organized at moving you through our web site in the most – er – efficient way possible. Are you a commercial building owner or manager? Commercial contractor? Or are you on the residential side as a contractor or homeowner? You’ll find yourself ushered in the right direction with only the sound of crepe soles on plush carpet swooshing you through to your intended destination.

And if you are used to our old website, you know that the products and services we’ve been rolling out in 2010 have mushroomed. At the new buildingadvice.us, you’ll find a concise menu of our major offerings.

From there, we break it down further: what KIND of BuildingAdvice fits your needs?

And if you, like so many people, are thinking about ongoing energy management (check out Tim Kensok, BuildingAdvice Vice President of Market Development, speaking on it in his October, 2010 article for automatedbuildings.com, “Energy Information Management: Beyond Savings Projections to Proof”), look no further:

I mean, how sleek can you get?

Even better, there are free resources available right on the web site, from our download library to a signup for our Building Monitor newsletters and hey, even a link to this blog.

We’ve got a special tab to watch for upcoming tradeshows and webinars, so you can keep up as we dish it out. For example, you can check out yesterday’s webinar, “How to Sell the VALUE of Energy Services” here.

What do you think?

As Seen In Contractor Magazine…

November 30th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

Below is a  Building Advisor post adapted from the recent article on J.C. Cannistraro in Contractormag.com.

“Reports do not lie. Energy savings are truly available for most buildings.”

So says Bill Fleming, an HVAC Service Manager at the family-owned mechanical services company J.C. Cannistraro in Watertown, Mass, and so he’s proved it to be true.

The industry expert was quoted on the evolving opportunities for energy services in the HVAC industry by ACHR News last August in the article, “Energy Audits in HVAC.” [update: another energy services success story can be found in Contractormag.com, here.]

As part of the 47-year old J.C. Cannistraro’s facilities services division, Cannistraro’s Building Energy Analysis service offering utilizes BuildingAdvice as a fundamental tool for assessing properties 5,000 to 20,000 square feet.

Cannistraro utilizes all three BuildingAdvice reports: Energy Benchmark, Energy Assessment, and Energy Audit.

When Cannistraro went looking for energy services tools to differentiate itself from the competition, BuildingAdvice was identified as the clear market leader by a corporate committee. Not only did it serve the small- to midsize niche well, it “was going where we wanted to go. I have the highest praise for the product,” Fleming says.

[BuildingAdvice] was going where we wanted to go. I have the highest praise for the product,” Fleming says.

Additionally, the sales and marketing training that are an integral part of the BuildingAdvice platform (highlighted here in ACHR News) were a draw. BuildingAdvice armed Fleming and his staff to show owners the energy savings they could access by utilizing BuildingAdvice’s diagnostic suite of services.

But while offering free energy benchmark reports attracted interest in Fleming’s service area, he has encountered resistance. “It isn’t always easy to obtain copies of necessary utility bills,” Fleming comments of building owners, managers and tenants.

Energy services by HVAC and mechanical contractors: it's all about differentiation.

Fleming points to the value of getting through to the right person.

“A savvy owner is looking at the longterm savings, not just someone who wants to wait until something breaks.”

One project in particular brought BuildingAdvice’s value home in September of 2009.

Longtime client Metro Realty Trust was “fairly receptive to the energy conversation,” says Fleming. A medical laboratory tenant occupying 20,000 square feet of a 55,000 square foot building was considering a move, partially due to its unavoidably high power usage and the costs associated. Metro Realty Trust knew that if it could lower the building’s energy costs, it would have a leg up on keeping the tenant.

Metro Realty Trust and Cannistraro saw eye to eye: improving the building’s performance would be good for the building’s profitability. Cannistraro did a free Energy Benchmark and formulated multiple-tenant utility information into a spreadsheet. Fleming showed Metro Realty Trust the damage: an EnergyStar score in the 30s (on a scale of 0 to 100, 100 is the most efficient).

The next step would prove to be a test of BuildingAdvice’s sales training. “Transitioning the client from a benchmark to an audit is the hardest part of the process,” said Fleming. “It all depends on the effectiveness of our presentation. How we present what we do is a key part of the process.”

By transferring the information into a separate template, Fleming presented a customized report in a format that worked for the client.

Based on the BuildingAdvice Energy Audit, Cannistraro proposed nearly $100,000 in retrofit and maintenance work for Metro Realty Trust.

In a few months, Metro Realty Trust had come up with the funds to complete the project.

“BuildingAdvice generated critical information to get the work done,” Fleming said. “It would have been difficult to justify without the information contained in the BuildingAdvice report.”

Right now, Fleming has two more audits pending – one for a hotel, the other for an office complex – and recently completed work that qualified for $8,700 in state rebates. Fleming estimates the client will save $15,000 per year in energy usage.

Images courtesy thefuturebuzz.com, J.C. Cannistraro, BuildingAdvice.

BuildingAdvice Energy Savings Grabs Spotlight

November 23rd, 2010 by Jim Crowder

You might have noticed we’ve been getting a lot of attention lately.

First there was the November 1 article in the ACHR (Air Conditioning Heating Refrigeration) NEWS, Contractor Scores With Free Benchmarking, highlighting the energy savings our BuildingAdvice channel partner Ed Brady of Sauer, Inc. uncovered at Fayette County Memorial Hospital in Columbus, Ohio this year (covered by The Building Advisor here).

After Sauer, Inc.‘s upper management decided to offer free energy benchmarks as part of its overall company strategy early in 2010, Brady, Service Account Representative for the Columbus location of the four-branch mechanical contractor, offered the service to Fayette County Memorial Hospital, Columbus’ two-building, critical access hospital. By summer’s end the benchmarking had amounted to over $750,000 worth of energy retrofitting service work.

“Contract customers weren’t biting at the energy services,” said Brady of his existing client base. “We found that by offering free benchmarking, we would definitely get potential new clients and some nice first meetings.” Moreover, “It doesn’t really take that much of my time to do the benchmarking.” By the following month, Brady was putting the energy services platform to work. – ACHR News

Another BuildingAdvice channel partner, J.C. Cannistraro in Watertown, Mass., got some love from Contractormag.com early this month with a spotlight,  Cannistraro finds energy auditing promising, profitable. Bill Fleming, HVAC Service Manager for the New England mechanical contractor, was the poster boy for finding energy savings for Metro Realty Trust, a Northeastern ownership in danger of losing a large medical laboratory tenant to high power usage and the costs associated.

JC Cannistraro's Vincent Ciampa verifying proper operation of a VFD (Variable Frequency Drive).

As Contractormag.com tells it, Fleming’s free benchmark resulted in a score the ownership couldn’t ignore. A powerful presentation, aided by BuildingAdvice, proposing $100,000 in retrofit and maintenance work, was fielded and funded in a matter of months.

“After Cannistraro entered the auditing market, a company committee selected a software tool called BuildingAdvice that was created by a company named BuildingAdvice. Fleming said the adaptability of the tool allows his people to generate statistics that show a client how much energy and money he can save.” – Contractormag.com

To top it all off, the ACHR (Air Conditioning Heating Refrigeration) NEWS hit us again with the Nov. 8 article “Home Health + Comfort: Commercial Energy Audits Are in Demand”

Our sexy sidebar tapped BuildingAdvice as “a company that offers contractors the marketing and technical tools needed in order to start improving the energy efficiency of commercial buildings.”

“The sales and marketing training piece teaches contractors how to build an energy services offering that fits into their existing approach to service. In addition, BuildingAdvice teaches their contractors’ salespeople to have the confidence to engage customers in conversations about energy.” – ACHR News

We confess, we like the attention. But we like people like Ed Brady and Bill Fleming in the spotlight even more.

Images courtesy ACHR News, Contractormag.com, and JC Cannistraro.

Proposed LEED Revisions Embrace Energy Efficiency

November 18th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

Last week’s roll out of public hearings for proposed revisions to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards mark a historic moment for the energy efficiency sector, as it is the first time the internationally recognized ratings system will address how a building is run once it is built.

The performance credit category measures a building’s operating performance. As LEED standards primarily address new construction decisions, the efficiency of the building was implied, but made “promises of efficiency that weren’t delivered,” said Clinton Andrews, a professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University in The New York Times recently.

LEED would collect and report this data anonymously through its Building Performance Partnership.

Another proposed change, the “integrated process” category, intends architects, engineers and contractors to sit down together in search of top building performance.

World's first LEED-certified parking garage in Santa Monica, CA

In the same week, The U.S. Green Building Council announced that 1 billion square feet of buildings, many of them in the United States, have now been LEED certified. Even the wry New York Observer – which, for the record, is tired of announcements on LEED-certified dog kennels, called the 10-year-old program “a pretty amazing accomplishment.”

Images courtesy inhabitat, USGBC.