Tap into Tenants for Better Energy Management

October 30, 2014 by

With October being Energy Awareness Month, energy efficiency and sustainability are top of mind for commercial building owners and property managers. As demonstrated by the many articles and posts — such as this info graphic — found in the media this month, there is a wide range of things that can be done to help with your energy management programs.

There are simple tasks you can implement – such as switching to CFL light bulbs, using smart power strips, changing cleaning and maintenance schedules, and more. And there are more sophisticated energy solutions available as well — such as installing automated controls, improving your technical building infrastructure, and leasing your rooftop or land to solar developers, to name a few.

Tenant EngagementOne thing you might not know, however, is how much control occupants directly and indirectly have over your building’s energy use. According to ENERGY STAR, between 60% and 80% of the energy used in most office buildings is consumed by tenants within their spaces. And, plug loads typically total 30% of building energy use.

With this in mind, tenants can be a great untapped resource for improving energy efficiency. Educating them and changing their behavior can be key to the success of your energy management programs.

To help you engage your building occupants in your energy management plans and make them more effective, here are some simple, proven strategies you can explore:

  • Be Open — Transparency is critical for tenant participation. Share your plans and goals with them. Also, provide them with timely, current energy information. Some ideas include:
    • Provide a web portal they can access to track their energy usage profile and data
    • Display building scorecards
    • Create newsletters, email blasts, or other regular communications that keep tenants current with the progress towards the goals
  • Raise Awareness — Improving tenants’ understanding of their energy use and the impact of their actions can go a long way. Increase their general energy awareness and provide them with specific steps and actions to follow. Examples include:
    • Create educational programs and informational letter campaigns and email blasts
    • Display building signage, such as light switch covers that remind tenants to turn off the lights
    • Develop a web-based resource portal
  • Assess Current Practices — Determine your tenants’ current energy use and identify opportunities for improvements. For example:
    • Perform Tenant Sustainability Assessments to determine as-is state
    • Provide plans and checklists so tenants know what they can work on and improve
    • Create a Sustainability Improvement Manual for tenants
  • Empower — Allow your tenants to take an active role in improving the efficiency of their building. Examples include:
    • Create a joint tenant/owner/management council and collectively establish performance goals
    • Nurture energy champions among the tenants
    • Welcome tenant ideas and encourage them to participate and make suggestions
  • Incentivize — Be sure and express what you are trying to achieve and the tenants’ role in accomplishing it. Offer rewards (food, cash, prizes) and recognition for their participation. Ideas include:
    • Sponsor Lunch & Learns, Bagel Breakfasts, or Ice Cream Socials to educate, inform, and encourage innovation and idea sharing
    • Give plaques or trophies for tenants who participate in surveys or complete projects
    • Create friendly competitions
  • Communicate — Create an all occupant communication plan, establish a dedicated budget to host events and create materials, and connect with tenants in ways that have the most impact. For example:
    • Host events, display posters and info in the building lobby, or offer building tours
    • Regularly contact tenants with reminders, tips, and updates
    • Promote and celebrate successes
  • Leverage Energy Star — ENERGY STAR is recognized by 80% of Americans, and is a respected authority on energy efficiency. They have many ready-to-use tools, templates, and materials you can leverage including:
    • Tenant benefits letters
    • Office posters and materials you can co-brand
    • Certifications, competitions, and awards

For more on this and other ways you can improve your energy efficiency, check out the ENERGY STAR website.

Check Out Greenbuild for the Latest Energy Solutions for Facilities

October 22, 2014 by

EV Charging SolutionsABM will be at the 2014 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo in New Orleans.

If you are attending the show, be sure and stop by Booth #2531 to see our integrated facility sustainability solutions including:

Get more details at our website. See you there!

Celebrate October — National Energy Awareness Month!

October 20, 2014 by

Every year the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) designates October as Energy Awareness Month. This national effort was established by the DOE in 1991 to emphasize the importance of energy to the nation’s prosperity and environmental well-being, as well as inspire everyone to step-up their conservation efforts.

Commercial buildings waste up to 30% of their energy, according to ENERGY STAR. With that in mind, there is a lot building owners, property managers, and even occupants can do to improve their efficiency and reduce energy usage.

In honor of Energy Awareness Month, check out this informative Infographic. It includes some great energy-saving actions that require minimal time and resources.

Energy Tips for Buildings


Trending: Micropower

October 10, 2014 by

Micropower TrendsWhat’s new with micropower? According to a recent Forbes article, it is quietly taking over the energy market. How do we know? Thanks to the recently updated RMI Micropower Database that has made tracking the global progress of renewables very transparent.

Started in 2005 and updated with a fifth edition in July of 2014, the RMI Micropower Database’s latest revelation is that as of 2013, micropower now produces about one-fourth of the world’s total electricity!  Other findings of note in the article include:

  • Nearly half of the world’s electricity was produced with little or no carbon release (when you include big hydroelectric dams and nuclear power)
  • Modern renewables alone (other than big hydro dams ) reached 1.95 times nuclear power’s capacity in 2013 and should exceed its annual electricity output by 2015
  • More new renewable capacity than fossil-fueled plus nuclear capacity was added in 2013
  • For micropower for mobile phones and personal computers, the race goes to the quick — but photovoltaic power worldwide is scaling up even faster than mobile phones

Coined in 2000, micropower is an umbrella term for electricity generation by small-scale fuel cells and gas turbines. The term generally refers to renewables and cogeneration. Energy gained from micropower is essentially carbon-free, more efficient, more reliable, less wasteful, and cheaper as compared to energy generated from traditional power plants and refineries.

For more of the latest trends in micropower, read the complete Forbes article.

CA Title 24 Energy Building Standards to Get Major Renovation

September 22, 2014 by

title 24To boost energy savings for the state even more, the California Energy Commission (CEC) has begun the process of updating California’s building energy code known as Title 24. The new 2016 standards, which serve as minimum efficiency standards for new construction and major renovation, will include even more cost-effective efficiency measures that will save building and home owners thousands of dollars, conserve millions of gallons of water, and avoid tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a recent Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) blog post, the updates will also help lay the groundwork for meeting California’s Zero Net Energy (ZNE) goals. ZNE is a state initiative that requires all newly constructed buildings and homes to produce as much energy as they consume — something they will achieve through a combination of energy efficiency measures and distributed renewable energy, such as efficient lighting and solar power. New residential construction will need to meet ZNE mandates by 2020 and non-residential by 2030.

What is Title 24?

Title 24 sets the requirements in California for everything related to a building’s energy use — from lighting to insulation. The standard was first adopted in 1977 and has delivered tremendous benefits over the past several decades, including saving Californians more than billions in reduced electricity bills while cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, reducing the need for new power plants, and cutting peak electricity demands. The standards have helped Californian keep per capita electricity use flat over the past three decades while the rest of the country saw per capita electricity use increase by 50%.

The last update to the standards in 2013 were implemented in July 2014, and are expected to result in 30% less energy consumption for non-residential and 25% less for residential buildings over the previous 2008 Energy Standards.

Expansion to Other States Being Considered

As part of the new updates, the CEC is proposing to make Title 24 equivalent to ASHRAE 90.1-2013, a national model code adopted by states other than California, in places where it has fallen behind. This includes updates to the requirements for:

  • Indoor and outdoor lighting
  • Non-residential envelope efficiency
  • HVAC and water heating equipment efficiency

For residential, the Title 24 enhancements under consideration include:

  • High performance walls
  • High performance attics and ducts
  • 100% high efficacy lighting
  • Credit for photovoltaic systems
  • Tankless water heaters

In total, the changes could save an estimated 195.3 gigawatt-hours in the first year of implementation, reducing emissions equivalent to those produced by 28,000 cars. According to the NRDC, though, the CEC has left some cost and energy savings on the table with these measures, and they can do more, particularly for non-residential buildings. Here are their comments.

Title 24 Commissioning Report Requirements

Another big change is that commissioning reports are now required by Title 24 for the installation of advanced lighting controls systems, and must be completed by a Certified Acceptance Test Technician.

To become certified, technicians and their employers must attest to their proficiency and understanding of the latest Title 24 standards through a state-approved program such as The California Advanced Lighting Controls Training Program (CALCTP). Becoming certified as an Acceptance Test Employer through CALCTP allows companies to send their technicians through the CALCTP course to become Certified Acceptance Test Technicians. Once complete, certified technicians are able to complete and submit the commissioning reports now required by Title 24 standards.

The CEC plans to finalize the updated standards by May 2015 and they will take effect in January 2017. For more detailed information on this, check out the NRDC blog post.