Category Archives: Industry News

How To Realize Actual Savings From Green Renovation Projects

Here’s how to realize actual savings from green renovation projects.

You’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on a renovation with the goal of raising a building’s Energy Star score from 60 to 75 because your CFO wants an Energy Starcertification. Will it work? How will you know? Was the initial goal a real-world possibility based on experience, or just wishful thinking?

The idea of bridging the gap between a goal (or design intent) and actual efficient operation (i.e., achieving that goal) is just as critical to keep in mind for green renovation projects as it is for new construction. Setting realistic goals, commissioning all work (and recommissioning it down the road), and measuring and verifying that the work is meeting the goals on a long-term basis are three steps facility managers should take to ensure success with green renovation projects.

Defining the scope of the renovation — whether a relatively simple lighting retrofit or a full gut rehab — is the first step to setting realistic goals once the renovation is complete. According to Peter Strazdas, associate vice president, facilities management, Western Michigan University, this is often the most difficult part. Setting the scope, and thus the goals, is akin to setting the project program on new construction. But with renovations, it’s often more difficult to keep the intended focus.

“The program tends to get diluted, so we concentrate a lot on staying the course with renovations,” he says. “We carefully document the program for the renovation at the beginning, and more importantly, we document why we are employing certain strategies.” Strazdas says the reason for careful documentation is to show both his customers — the faculty and students who use the buildings — as well as his facility managers and technicians precisely why decisions were made at the front end. This limits changes and keeps the scope manageable. It also helps with ongoing efficient operations as the technicians know and understand why decisions were made.

“They may understand the technical stuff, but they don’t understand why, for instance, we chose LEDs or occupancy sensors. It’s terribly important to start this explanation at the beginning with the project program.”

Strazdas says Western Michigan currently has more than 300 renovation projects in the works, so it’s easy to see why it’s important to keep each project on target — in terms of both facility management goals and what the customer wants. At the end of the day, those are the two most critical factors that define whether a project is successful or not.

But how do you set realistic goals, then ensure that they‘re followed through to success? With new construction, an energy model is the go-to strategy for setting efficiency goals — and that strategy could work for renovations, as well. If the project is big enough, says Strazdas, the few extra bucks up front to model is worth it. “The model helps identify strategies that we could not have come up with on our own,” he says. “You can’t just work on the back of a napkin anymore.”

But a full-scale energy model for most renovation projects isn’t realistic. Jim Cooke, national facilities operations manager for Toyota Motor Sales North America, says his organization sets goals for renovations by comparing expected results with new construction. He says the first question is: “How close can we come with a renovation project to how efficient we are with new construction? Our goals for renovations definitely revolve around being able to apply lessons learned from new construction.”

Source: facilitiesnet

Budding Success with Green Roof Incentives


The silver city townhomes in Milwaukee, WI, earned a $172,278 grant from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District toward its green roof project.
PHOTO CREDIT: XERO FLOR AMERICA LLC

If you want your next roofing project to come up roses, you might consider growing some up there – and if you really want to gild the lily, plant some incentive funding into the plot.

“There is a lot of curiosity and apprehension about green roofs. Building owners have heard about them and only just begun investigating costs and support packages,” says Clayton Rugh, general manager and technical director of system supplier Xero Flor America. “Suppliers can help in the financial argument, but it’s important to go to your local utility to see what’s available.”

Where there was once little local, state, or federal funding for green roof projects, many incentives are sprouting up across the country.

“During negotiation, have a dialogue about what can be done for you in order to get the project approved. Municipalities recognize that these projects cost developers money, and in their quest to attract new development, they’re willing to play ball,” explains Dick Hayden, garden roof department manager at system supplier American Hydrotech. “Green roofs have real value, so utilities use incentives as part of the financing puzzle.”

Knowing what is available and what works will make your project a lush undertaking.

MUNICIPAL INCENTIVES AT A GLANCE
Below is a crash course on types of incentives available in different regions, according to the non-profit organization Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. If these aren’t advertised or available in your neck of the woods, do some digging or lobbying.

“Incentives come in various forms, but a lot of entities don’t advertise them,” Hayden says. “They want to promote the green component, but the dollars are based on stormwater management. Replacing sewer infrastructure can cost billions.”

Even if you can’t collect monetary motivation, lowering the amount of impervious space on your property can give you an added floor on your building or extra parking space in your lot. Consider the possibilities:

  • Chicago, IL: Green Roof Permit Program – In addition to monetary incentives for stormwater and reducing the urban heat island effect, another bonus is an expedited building permit program.
  • Milwaukee, WI: Regional Green Roof Incentive – Earn $5 per square foot of approved green roof space.
  • Minneapolis, MN: Regional Green Roof Initiative – A discount of up to 100% on stormwater utility fees rewards properties that manage their stormwater quality and quantity with strategies including green roofs.
  • Nashville, TN: Green Roof Credit – Earn a $10 rebate for each square foot of green roof space.
  • New York, NY: Green Roof Tax Abatement – Earn a $5.23 rebate per square foot of green roof space, capped at $200,000 per project.
  • Philadelphia, PA: Green Roof Tax Credit – Earn a credit of up to 25% of all costs incurred to construct a green roof, with a maximum of $100,000 per project.
  • Portland, OR: Floor Area Ratio Bonus – Earn extra space based on the percentage of green roof area: 10-30% earns 1 extra square foot of floor area, 30-60% earns 2, and 60%+ earns 3.
  • Syracuse, NY: Green Improvement Fund – Moneys are available for projects utilizing green infrastructure. Nearly $4 million has already been awarded to 37 projects.
  • Toronto, ON: Green Roof Bylaw/Procurement – Earn $7 per square foot of green roof space.
  • Washington, D.C.: Green Roof Rebate Program – There is base funding ranging from $7-10 per square foot of green roof area depending on the project’s sewage shed area.

LEARN FROM SUCCESS STORIES
The World Wide Fund for Nature remodeled its headquarters in Washington, D.C. The facility added a green roof with the primary goal of reducing the first flush and/or peak flow of water during major storm activity. The project also coincided with an aggressive renovation to earn LEED-EB 2009 Platinum.

Its 28,000-square-foot green roof treats and retains about 416,250 gallons of stormwater annually, meeting both municipal and LEED guidelines. As a result of the reduced stress on the city sewer infrastructure, the project earned tax abatement of almost $200,000.

The Silver City Townhomes in Milwaukee, WI, are five structures housing 20 rent-to-own three- and four-bedroom units. Each building has a green roof, with the area totaling 11,577 square feet. They were funded with a $172,278 grant from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District.

Sources like these can be earned for your project, even if funding doesn’t appear readily available. The onus is on you to pursue and advocate for them.

“Push for policy in your area. Lobby and get representatives on board with green roofs and infrastructure,” suggests Andy Creath, owner and founder of Green Roofs of Colorado, a green roof designer and installer. “Just get involved.”

Source: buildings.com

10 Smart Building Myths Busted

Smart buildings are a no-brainer and more affordable than most building owners and investors realize.

Smart buildings have been proven to save energy, streamline facilities management and prevent expensive equipment failures. Yet, to many property owners and investors, the value of smart buildings remains a mystery. The fact is, in most buildings, we can demonstrate a strong business case for strategic investments in smart building systems and management technologies.

Not everyone is aware that the tremendous advantages of today’s affordable smart building management technologies easily justify the cost. The following are 10 myths about smart buildings, along with the facts:

Myth #10: Smart Building Technologies Are Expensive.

Myth Debunked: Smart building technology investments typically pay for themselves within one or two years by delivering energy savings and other operational efficiencies. One smart building management pilot program we worked on, for example, generated a positive return on investment within several months.

Myth #9: Smart Buildings are Only About Energy.

Myth Debunked: A smart building management system often can detect when a piece of equipment is close to failure and alert facilities personnel to fix the problem. Knowing the right time to repair or replace equipment extends machinery life, and reduces facility staff, operations and replacement costs. More dramatically, smart building management systems can prevent full-scale building system failures—potentially embarrassing to a Superbowl stadium host, but life-threatening in a hospital or laboratory.

Myth #8: Smart Buildings and Green Buildings are the Same Thing. Myth Debunked: Smart buildings maximize energy efficiency from building systems and ensure air quality, while a complete “green” sustainability program includes strategies beyond building automation systems. So, while “smart” and “green” features may overlap, they are not identical concepts. The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) explains the difference in Bright Green Buildings: Convergence of Green and Intelligent Buildings, a comprehensive report authored with Frost and Sullivan.

Myth #7: Industrial Facilities or Laboratories Can’t Become Smart Buildings.

Myth Debunked:  All types of buildings—whether residential or commercial—can be built or retrofitted to become highly automated and smart. Even highly specialized facilities such as laboratories can be outfitted with smart building technologies.

Myth #6: Smart Buildings Can Only Be New Buildings.

Myth Debunked: Some of the smartest buildings in the world are not new at all, but have demonstrated the return on investment in smart technologies. The Empire State Building, for example, has exceeded projected energy savings for the second consecutive year following an extensive phased retrofit begun in 2009.

Myth #5: Smart Building Technologies are Not Interoperable.

Myth Debunked: In the past, building automation equipment and controls were designed as proprietary systems. However, affordable new technologies, such as wireless sensors, now make it possible to gather data from disparate systems produced by any manufacturer.

Myth #4: Smart Systems Don’t Make a Building More Attractive to Tenants.

Myth Debunked:  Anything that improves energy efficiency, reduces occupancy cost and improves productivity is valuable to tenants, as numerous studies and surveys attest. Tenants and their advisors increasingly expect smart building features such as zoned HVAC, sophisticated equipment maintenance alert systems, and advanced security systems. As reported in JLL’s October 2012 Global Sustainability Perspective, smart systems provide benefits for tenants—and tenants recognize the benefits.

Myth #3: Without a Municipal Smart Grid, a Building Can’t Really Be Smart.

Myth Debunked:  It’s true that smart buildings gain functionality when supported by advanced electrical grids installed by municipalities and their utility company partners. But even without a smart grid, owners and investors can draw a wide range of benefits from smart buildings and a smart building management system that can monitor entire property portfolios.

Myth #2: Smart Buildings Are Complicated to Operate.

Myth Debunked: Combined with a smart building management system, a smart building is often easier to operate and maintain than a building that lacks automated systems. A smart building management system can integrate work-order management applications; pull equipment repair and maintenance data into performance analytics; and pinpoint equipment issues to a degree not humanly possible. For example, a smart building management system can diagnose a programming problem that has been undetected for 15 years, enabling facility managers to resolve a recurring equipment malfunction.

Myth #1: Smart Buildings Are a No-Brainer.

Myth NOT Debunked: This myth isn’t a myth at all — it’s actually true. As affordable new technologies are adopted, tenants are beginning to expect smart building features—and owners and investors are beginning to realize the return on investment in smart systems.

Leo O’Loughlin is senior vice president of Energy and Sustainability Services at JLL, the global professional services and investment management firm offering specialized services to clients that own, occupy and invest in commercial real estate. With 20 years of energy and sustainability management expertise, Leo helps clients incorporate energy and sustainability concepts into operations and project management, reducing energy consumption, utility expense and carbon emissions. He specializes in creating and analyzing project structures for energy efficiency, central utility plant and energy services outsourcing programs, managing the multi-disciplinary development of energy infrastructure assets and retrofit projects. He also manages business development, commercial structuring, financial and technical analyses and implementation of energy-related projects. Previously, Leo was an executive at several leading California energy companies. He holds an MBA from San Diego State University and a BS in mechanical engineering from Purdue University. 

Source: http://www.energymanagertoday.com/10-smart-building-myths-busted-0100847/

Overlooked Low- and No-Cost Energy Effiicent Opportunities

What is an often overlooked low- or no-cost technique for saving energy in building systems?

Tenant engagement is a valuable tool to educate and get occupants on board with a building wide energy and sustainability program. How a space is designed and occupied plays a big role in the overall building energy performance, which is reflected in a building’s Energy Star rating. We are also working on Tenant Star, which will recognize energy efficient leased space and provide a voluntary platform to benchmark tenant spaces. Another building wide solution to consider are demand response programs which reduce peak energy demand through pre-cooling and load shedding and which are incentivized through many utility programs.

Answers provided by Wendy Fok, project director, High Performance Demonstration Project of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Center for Market Innovation.

Source: http://www.facilitiesnet.com/energyefficiency/article/Overlooked-Low-and-NoCost-Energy-Effiicent-Opportunities–14996?source=part

Ensuring the Most Energy Efficient Equipment

How can facility managers make sure they’re getting the most energy efficiency out of new or upgraded building equipment?

Ongoing energy use measurement and diagnostics will help optimize energy performance and keep building systems operating smoothly. There are new building energy management applications which bridge between data collection to diagnostics, alerts, and work orders, but an excellent facilities manager is the key to success. It’s also a tremendous asset to have tenant billed for actual energy consumption. Sub-metering tenant spaces with easily accessible, simple energy reports allow both building owners and tenants to understand energy use and costs. This transparency makes it easier to keep things running as planned and adapt as necessary.

Answers provided by Wendy Fok, project director, High Performance Demonstration Project of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Center for Market Innovation.

Source: http://www.facilitiesnet.com/energyefficiency/article/Ensuring-the-Most-Energy-Efficient-Equipment–14995?source=part

Big Strides in HVAC and Lighting Efficiency

There have been big strides made recently in efficiency in HVAC and lighting. What do you see as the next area that offers the potential for improved energy efficiency?

Tenant spaces typically account for 50-70 percent of a building’s overall energy use, and building owners who effectively engage with tenants to build out and operate energy efficient leased space will improve the building’s overall energy performance and comfort while both sides can benefit financially. Office equipment plug loads are the primary energy driver in leased space and managing these ‘phantom loads’ through outlet switches and computer energy management software can be cost effective strategies.

NRDC’s High Performance Tenant Demonstration Project is focused on energy use in leased commercial space, and the economic benefits of building owner and tenant collaboration, and the projects are realizing strong returns of 25 percent IRR and payback periods well under 5 years.

Answers provided by Wendy Fok, project director, High Performance Demonstration Project of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Center for Market Innovation.

Getting Back On Energy Budget After a Rough Winter

Most of the country had a pretty rough winter, and that led to a lot of people going over their energy budget. What can facility managers do now that the weather’s improving to help make up for some of that spending?

Spring is an excellent time to take stock of a building’s annual utility expenses and map out an energy saving strategy, at an asset and portfolio level. A walk through energy audit, retro-commissioning, and project identification are steps which will help a facility manager understand how building systems interact and where the ripe targets for energy savings are. Reviewing the building’s sequence of operations, and making adjustments to schedules, temperature and flow rate set-points in HVAC equipment are easy opportunities. A comprehensive energy efficient lighting and plug load reduction projects are also cost effective ways to reduce energy waste in buildings.

Mild spring temperatures and longer daylight hours also offer good opportunities to make HVAC and lighting adjustments. Outside air economization and free cooling, as well as for variable frequency drives on HVAC equipment serve to reduce cooling energy, and this is the best time to use operable windows. Don’t forget to make sure that the heating systems are shut off and the appropriate controls are functioning so that steam or electricity is not wasted unnecessarily. Capturing natural daylight by raising shades and adjusting lighting controls and timers to take advantage of longer daylight hours is an easy energy saving strategy.

Source: http://www.facilitiesnet.com/energyefficiency/article/Getting-Back-On-Energy-Budget-After-a-Rough-Winter–14993?source=part

Answers provided by Wendy Fok, project director, High Performance Demonstration Project of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Center for Market Innovation.