Posts Tagged ‘demand response’

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, ['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

Pursuing a Property Portfolio in San Francisco: Marina Differentiates and Wins

August 19th, 2010 by Jim Crowder

Shell Ridge Property Management Co., Inc. maintains approximately 300,000 square feet of commercial space in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since 1980, Shell Ridge has specialized in asset management strategies for small medical offices. Its 15 buildings range from 40,000 to 100,000 square feet.

marina mechanicalShell Ridge’s medical office properties represent a desirable portfolio for mechanical contractors. Marina Mechanical, a 50-year-old company headquartered in San Leandro, Calif., began maintenance for a Pleasanton, Calif. Shell Ridge property five years ago. In the ensuing years of service, energy conservation was rarely discussed.

But when Marina began feeling heat from its competitors in the middle of a down market, it turned to its best customers to expand relationships.

Marina had obtained training on the BuildingAdvice energy services diagnostic platform in November of 2009, and began the process of leveraging its action-oriented reports as a differentiator.

Gamechanging Energy Services Offering

“We offered to show both the property manager and owner at Shell Ridge, some sample energy benchmarking and assessment reports,” says Denny Mann, Vice President of Service with Marina Mechanical, when explaining how he got the energy conversation started. “The property manager was actually very educated on energy benchmarking, and as a result, very interested. Once she saw the type of information the BuildingAdvice reports gave, she was extremely interested.”

“BuildingAdvice differentiated Marina from other mechanical contractors waiting to get their foot in the door,” says Denny.

Denny offered to do complimentary energy assessments on two Shell Ridge buildings. Shell Ridge has several buildings where Peak Day Pricing, a program of local utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), would come into play.

Peak Day Pricing (PDP) is PG&E’s demand response program, which acts as an incentive for business owners to curtail their facility’s energy use during times of peak usage. During the summer, PDP substantially raises energy prices on “event days” (above 98 degrees); businesses have a 24 hour notice when there will be an event to lower their energy usage for that day.  By charging a very high rate on event days, PG&E motivates customers to invest in strategies that will lower their consumption overall, and especially on the peak days.

Peak day pricing is specialized to the PGE territory, but not a unique phenomenon.

“Peak day pricing is definitely acting as a market stimulator for energy services and spurs client interest,” Denny said. “I think soon people will be lined up to get involved with energy reduction conversations.”

Taking Action

In going over the results of the assessment reports, conversations began about what Marina could do to help Shell Ridge avoid demand charges across the company’s property portfolio.

Which led to a second meeting with the owner, and an agreement to generate Energy Benchmarking Reports on all of the Shell Ridge properties to determine Energy Star scores.

“BuildingAdvice reports marked our transition from just being their mechanical contractor to forming a partnership. It completely transformed the relationship,” says Denny.

With portfolio-wide benchmarks on the docket, Marina took recommendations from the first two properties’ energy assessments to Shell Ridge ownership.

“BuildingAdvice helped us identify that the building was running when it didn’t need to be,” said Denny. Supply and reset strategies were created, so that the building was not not pouring 55 degree air into the interior when clients were not there, all of which were identified in the report.

Two low- and no-cost recommendations were approved and completed April of this year. Shell Ridge made the decision to complete the service based on the return on investment outlined in BuildingAdvice’s Energy Assessment Report. In addition to revisions to lighting and HVAC schedules based on peak day pricing, the report showed a seven-year payback on a demand control vent.

“We’re letting those changes take effect,” said Denny. After a 12-month period, savings achieved will be tabulated.

Next Steps and the Advent of Mandatory Energy Disclosure

As of late June, Marina wrapped up the energy benchmarking process on all of the Shell Ridge portfolio. Based on buildings’ Energy Star scores, Marina will make recommendations on which properties need energy assessments.

Looking ahead, the mandates of California’s Assembly Bill 1103 (AB 1103) state that non-residential business owners or their agents are required to input energy consumption and other building data into the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager system, which generates an energy efficiency rating for the building.

As of January 1, 2010, AB 1103 mandated disclosure of a building’s energy data and rating of the previous year to prospective buyers and lessees of the entire building or lenders financing the entire building. That deadline has since been pushed back, and the task of devising a disclosure schedule has fallen to the California Energy Commission (CEC). The CEC is in the process of drafting a new compliance schedule; January 1, 2011 is speculated to be the new required disclosure date.

New York City, Washington DC and other regions have adopted similar required energy data disclosure. Smart owners and managers are on the move to meet deadlines.

Net Impact

The ability to offer energy services differentiates providers. Marina knew a competitor was making an aggressive play for service agreements in Shell Ridge’s multiple locations. Yet, in the same timeframe Marina stayed in discussions with Shell Ridge by centering their meetings around energy services through BuildingAdvice.

“After going through BuildingAdvice training, we quickly realized that being able to offer our customers a systematic, low-cost / no-cost approach to reducing their energy consumption would change the way we were viewed.”

BuildingAdvice has “helped us retain current business and significantly raised the bar on the services we offer.”