Tag Archives: LEED-EBOM

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

LEED-EBOM Commissioning Credits Focus On Maintaining Efficient Operations

LEED for New Construction currently provides elements that help link design and construction to operations, but because many are voluntary, they are typically underused. The most apparent opportunity exists within two areas of the Energy and Atmosphere category. The enhanced commissioning credit in the New Construction rating system specifically helps to bridge the gap from the end of design and construction to the operational phase. Specifically, incorporating commissioning activities such as opposed season systems testing generates a track record of operations and performance to analyze and troubleshoot ahead of long-term operations. Commissioning credits in LEED-EBOM pick up right where the New Construction system leaves off, leveraging the fact that, as performance decay never stops, neither should commissioning to help maintain efficient operations.

Even if a building was never commissioned in the first place, the best place to focus efforts is probably in the associated commissioning credits of LEED-EBOM. Either picking up where the design and construction commissioning agent left off, keeping the same commissioning agent on board for the early years of operation, or starting from scratch with the commissioning activities outlined in LEED-EBOM will likely provide substantial gains in operational efficiency. If it is possible to retain the design and construction commissioning agent during the operational phase of a building, it will be easier to incorporate knowledge about design direction, challenges, obstacles, and strategic success into the building’s operational life and future performance successes. Otherwise, building staff hired late in construction, or even after a building is occupied, will not gain the benefit of a building’s early history and lessons learned. Each building is unique in regard to where it has been and where it is going operationally, and the longer design and construction team members can stay engaged with building operations the better.

The other Energy and Atmosphere credit that can contribute significantly to optimized operations pertains to energy metering. The design team can properly segregate branch distribution to the various types of loads in a building, like lighting or HVAC, and provide the associated meters to aid the analysis of energy consumption. However it is the owner/operator of the facility who should still follow through with an annual program to fine tune performance over time. It may come as a surprise to many that for the most part, typical design practice provides very few tools to properly manage the energy-consuming systems in a building. Whether your building included system-level metering to begin with or not, LEED-EBOM incentivizes incorporating meters to measure “major end uses that represent 20 percent or more of the total annual consumption.” We can’t manage what we don’t measure, and a comprehensive metering program goes a long way in ongoing system management and troubleshooting of the issues that become routine in many buildings leading to reduced energy consumption over time.

Better Data Can Make LEED-EBOM An Easier Sell To Tenants, Owners

There are countless ways to tell a tenant or an owner that a LEED project is a good idea and should be high on their priority list, but it’s more effective to show them. Such projects are gradually becoming an easier sell; not only are the benefits becoming more well-known outside the facility management industry, but there’s also better data available to make the argument.

Transwestern’s Allan Skodowski says that, five years ago, if he suggested a green roof to an owner, “they looked at me like I’d grown a third eye.” Now, he can prove how the roof interacts with the rest of the building.

“Today, I say, ‘Well, if I put this green roof on, guess what? I’m going to reduce your sewage conveyance costs by 75 percent, and that equals X, and your payback is Y,’ and I have real data to show that,” he says. “Five years ago, seven years ago, I didn’t have that. It was just a gut, ‘Hey, I can do this, this is what I think it will be.’ Today, I have real, substantive data that shows that a building with a green label certification — LEED, Energy Star, even — generally has higher occupancy and generally is maintaining a bit of an edge relative to rental rates.”

Going hand-in-hand with better data is better equipment, which is often tested in a pilot installation to see if it delivers the expected combination of performance and savings. If it meets those goals, then it is expanded to the rest of the enterprise. And, with so many building systems seeing efficiency improvements, energy savings can be easily achieved, says Sheehy.

“Ninety-five percent of the buildings I go into still have 32-watt T8 bulbs,” he says. “I tell them, ‘Go throw a 28 (watt) right next to it, right now and tell me if you can see a difference.’ The eye can’t perceive the difference, and I tell them, ‘You just saved 12 ½ percent on lighting by making that switch.'”

Getting Easier

LEED-EBOM projects offer a variety of challenges regardless of facility type or occupancy type. But they offer a lot of benefits, too, and not just in terms of dollars and cents. While it’s up to the building owner to decide on a project and up to the tenants to decide whether they want to cooperate if needed, it’s becoming easier every day to make the argument.

“If you can do things in a building that are better for the inhabitants, better for the vendors servicing the building, and, as an added bonus, better for the environment — why not do them if they are free and easy to implement?” Molotsky says. “Is it better to have paint with high-VOC content or low-VOC content if the paint is the same color and there is no cost difference? Well, the answer’s kind of easy: Of course low-VOC.

“Is it better to have ceiling tile with recycled content, wall-board that does not off-gas, paper supplies and bathroom supplies with local delivery and recycled content, chemicals that are less problematic in an interior environment, trash diverted from the landfill and recycled, electronic waste that is recycled instead of thrown out, etc.? If all of these items can be done for no cost, which they all can, then why not execute and do them?”

Article By Casey Laughman, Managing Editor- http://www.facilitiesnet.com/

Keep Financial Considerations In Mind When Pursuing LEED-EBOM In Multi-Tenant Facilities

When launching any sort of upgrade or retrofit project, financial concerns are always top of mind, and that’s no less true for LEED certification, which can be time-consuming and expensive. While there are clear potential benefits to the certification, both financial — higher occupancy rates, higher rents, lower operating costs — and non-financial — less environmental impact, meeting overall sustainability goals, compliance with local standards — cost is always a concern, even as terms like green, sustainability and LEED become more well known.

“The language of sustainability is more common, but the financial motivators — they’re still the same financial metrics they’ve always been,” says Chrissa Pagitsas, director, property conditions and environmental risk, multifamily risk, Fannie Mae, which is involved in a large-scale project pursuing LEED-EBOM certification in multifamily housing. (See link on page 37.) “It’s still going to come down to a cost-benefit analysis, and (sustainability) doesn’t always win, because sometimes the metrics to measure the benefits aren’t there.”

In the effort to sell LEED-EBOM, it does help that the commercial real estate market is becoming more knowledgeable about sustainability, says Allan Skodowski, managing senior vice president/director of sustainability, Transwestern, and chairman of the board of directors, U.S. Green Building Council. Greater understanding makes it easier to define just how sustainability fits into the overall evaluation of a building, its worth, and what it can offer to both tenants and owners. But, again, cost is often still king.

“In a fair number of cases, it ultimately comes down to marketing: What is my competition doing?” Skodowski says.

Of course, cost is only one side of the financial equation. The other is comparing that cost to the savings and the payback you expect from the project.

As an example, SL Green has invested more than $10 million in various infrastructure projects since 2009. But, according to Black, the company is saving about $3.2 million in reduced energy spending every year, which made the projects no-brainers, even if they weren’t something that could be sold to tenants as solid corporate citizenship.

“The important part for us is saying ‘Look, we’re here to help meet and exceed those expectations'” of sustainability and environmental stewardship, he says. “But at the same time, we see this as a core business tool for us.”

Sheehy points out that when it comes down to it, the ultimate goal for those who own and operate multi-tenant buildings is to keep those buildings full. After all, it’s hard to save money on energy efficiency projects if the building is sitting empty.

“I will never sacrifice performance for sustainability, because at the end of the day, if these tenants are unhappy, LEED, or sustainability, means nothing,” he says. “If the building doesn’t perform, the owners don’t care about LEED.

“I don’t hug the tree coming in. I’m not wearing Birkenstocks through the building. My goal here is to come in, save water, save energy, reduce the waste, and make the indoor air quality better, and that’s what we focus on. We can do that without sacrificing any comfort to the tenants.”

One other way to approach the financial argument is to look for low-cost and no-cost solutions that you can pitch to tenants or owners. Some of Madrid’s tenants, realizing they were never going to remember to turn off the lights, bought inexpensive, 12-hour timers to shut the lights off, thereby saving themselves money while making it easier for Madrid and her team to meet their sustainability goals. A $40 timer, says Madrid, made a “huge” difference.

Article by: Casey Laughman, Managing Editor- http://www.facilitiesnet.com/

LEED-EBOM Purchasing Credits Are Recurring Challenge In Multi-Tenant Facilities

While every facility is different, every tenant is different and every LEED-EBOM project is different, there’s one particular challenge in multi-tenant facilities that is a recurring theme: The purchasing credits, which award points based on sustainable practices in purchasing ongoing consumables (e.g., paper, office supplies), electric-powered equipment, furniture, and materials used in facility alterations and additions, as well as the amount of mercury used in lamps and food.

LEED-EBOM requires the property management team to have a sustainable purchasing policy for everything that team can control. To get points beyond that, property managers have to get tenants involved. And that’s where things get tough.

“You have to capture 90 percent of the purchases for all the occupants in the building, and [tenants are] just not going to share that information,” says Gary Thomas, director of sustainability programs, CBRE, who has been involved in more than 160 LEED-EBOM certifications in multi-tenant facilities. He says that proprietary purchasing contracts and other factors make gathering that information difficult.

“Usually in a multi-tenanted building, I can’t run away from those points fast enough,” says Craig Sheehy, president and CEO, Envision Realty Services, a LEED consulting firm.

Both Sheehy and Thomas point out that this credit can be a tough nut to crack in single-tenant or owner-occupied space as well, especially in large corporate settings where multiple departments have their own purchasing authority. But it is a bigger hurdle in multi-tenant facilities. Often times, those points are simply out of reach, as are points that require surveying building occupants on things such as alternative commuting and occupant comfort.

The good news is that these are not deal breakers for certification. All told, Thomas points out, roughly 25 percent of points require occupant participation. “It’s a pretty good-sized number,” he says, “but at the same time, there’s enough outside of that that you really don’t need the tenants to participate or have much involvement in. A well-run, high-quality building — energy efficient, good water efficiency — those buildings are going to get certified almost regardless of the tenant participation.”