13 Jul

Implementing Your Energy and Water Strategy: Where to Start

Danielle Brocker Energy & water management

Making good on annual energy and water performance goals is hard.

Whether you’re a building owner or operator, work on-site or in a corporate office, your day-to-day work life does not revolve around energy and water performance. Other, more seemingly urgent priorities arise that continually postpone analyzing and taking action on energy and water usage. But, by devoting a small, focused amount of time, you can develop an energy and water strategy that will result in more efficient, sustainable, and profitable buildings. 

You can do this! And here’s how.

Set Tangible Goals

Take Bozzuto Management Company. In 2015, they sought to reduce energy across all company-managed properties and establish corporate sustainability goals. Bozzuto defined specific targets like their annual 3% energy savings portfolio goal, joined an energy efficiency initiative under U.S. Department of Buildings’ Better Buildings Challenge, and established a goal of increasing recycling by a minimum of 5% year over year across all communities.

By establishing a meaningful and achievable goal – the first of many focused on sustainability – we are able to share with our clients that we too are committed to high performance. We can work in partnership with them while growing and promoting a culture of sustainable operations internally.”

Peter Zadoretzky
Director of Sustainability, Bozzuto Management Company


Design and Implement Your Strategy

The first step many Bright Power clients, like Bozzuto, take to implement their energy and water strategy is to benchmark their properties. Through an analytics tool like our EnergyScoreCards™ cloud-based platform, they can gain a deeper understanding of their energy and water consumption, identify and prioritize opportunities for improvement, and measure and verify results after project implementation.

Realize Benefits

By defining their goals, outlining a tangible strategy, and implementing it, Bozzuto was able to achieve a 3% energy reduction in 2017 across their whole portfolio. This decrease in energy usage translates to nearly $1 million in savings compared to 2016 data measured in EnergyScoreCards and over $15.5 million in increased asset value across the entire portfolio. Not to mention being awarded ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for the second year in a row and named Property Management Company of the Year by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), showcasing that you don’t have to choose between doing what’s right for your business and for the environment.

Clients like Bozzuto Management Company are proving that with a sound energy and water strategy in place, goals can be met.

Check in next week when I’ll share why having an energy and water strategy is important, how to get projects done more holistically, and tips to staying on track so that you can reach your goals.

27 Jun

Why We Worry With Weather Weirdness

Dan Levin Energy Markets, procurement

Of the many things that move energy prices, weather is the most obvious of all. The equation is simple. Extreme cold in winter requires more fuel for heating, demand goes up, therefore price goes up. But not all temperature changes are as obvious as winter cold = high prices or summer heat = high prices.

Shoulder months (months between winter and summer) are often considered slow periods for energy price volatility. But even these calm periods can move the market. Unfortunately, this past April and May are good examples of how unexpected temperatures can alter market conditions.

You won’t be surprised to hear that outdoor temperatures are measured at thousands of locations around the country. But did you know that those figures are used to create a special metric measured by how much temperatures vary from a 65-degree benchmark? In winter these are known as “heating degree days – HDD” (degrees under 65) and in summer as “cooling degree days – CDD” (degrees over 65). The greater the number, the more heating or cooling is required.

In the tables below you can see the heating degree days for April and May and the cooling degree days for May. April was 36% colder than the five year average for the month, while May was 47% warmer. Additionally, May was so warm that it used 57% more cooling degree days than the five-month average.

HDD CDD April May 2018

So, why do we care?

We care because the temperature swings in these months have a direct impact on natural gas usage, stored volumes, and, ultimately, natural gas and electric prices. The combined effect of April and May 2018 produced an elevation in prices into a new and higher trading range (about a 3% increase). All supply bought for next winter is impacted by these months and will remain in place until the next market shift.

So What’s Ahead? El Niño, maybe.

Over the past few months, the surface water temperature in the Pacific has been rising and is heading toward an El Niño effect later this fall. So what does this mean for us?  Simply put, it will create warmer weather in the north, creating a change in the jet stream that will reduce the impact (but not the number of) hurricanes. The overall effect of El Niño is a moderately bearish change (unless usage and prices drop). While the arrival of El Niño and its strength are still uncertain, we can definitely take away an important lesson from this spring: when it comes to weather, expect the unexpected.

26 Jun

What to Know, Now: Energy Market Update June 2018

Dan Levin Energy Markets, procurement

Summer begins. Still a buying opportunity.

The Bottom Line

Current prices for electricity and natural gas compare favorably to 2017 rates and present opportunities to reduce costs through supply contracts. Today’s lower prices are supported by record high levels of natural gas production.

What to know about 2018

While today’s prices are still low, there is concern this hot summer will cause high demand for electric generation to meet cooling needs. Continued increasing exports of liquified natural gas (LNG) will reduce available gas for winter storage. If both a hot summer and increased exports occur, there may be a reversal and prices may rise this summer and winter. If you have contracts expiring in 2018 or early 2019, you will want to price them early and evaluate your timing on completing your supply contracts. If you are receiving procurement services from Bright Power, we are already completing or planning this evaluation for you.

Why Act Now

In the past month, hot weather and hot forecasts have buoyed prices up, while increased production of gas has kept prices in range. These factors may fall out of balance, increasing the risk of higher prices this summer and winter. As many property owners and managers are risk averse, it is clearly a time to protect prices this summer and to prepare to capture the winter prices if the market remains favorable.

25 Jun

Mercy Housing Wins NAA’s ROE Energy Retrofit Award

Bright Power affordable housing, California

“On June 16 Better Buildings Challenge Multifamily partner Mercy Housing was honored with the National Apartment Association’s (NAA’s) Return on Energy (ROE) Energy Retrofit Award. The award recognizes smart, innovative solutions that successfully reduce energy in a quantifiable way by showing estimated return on investment (ROI) at an individual property.”

In partnership with Mercy Housing and Affordable Community Energy Services Company (ACE), Bright Power provided the following services at 205 Jones Street Apartments:

  • Installed heat pump hot water heating system
  • Installed Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs)
  • Insulated pipes
  • Upgraded LED lighting in common areas & resident apartments
  • Implemented low-flow fixtures on faucets & shower heads
  • Installed ENERGY STAR® washing machines

Read more here via Better Buildings.

 

21 Jun

Helping Water Become Part of the Conservation Equation

James Henshaw water
Photograph by James Henshaw

Many Americans do not anticipate or expect water shortages. Most of us are very accustomed to simply turning a faucet, or hose handle, to enjoy a continuous flow of clean water. This expectation might explain why so many of us take access to clean water for granted. But, the reality is that the water supply is increasingly fragile all around the world as consumption is increasing, primarily due to:

  1. Dramatic worldwide population growth, from roughly 2.5 billion in 1950 to an estimated 7.6 billion in 2018.
  2. Increased development, urbanization, and quality of life improvements. As populations continue to develop, urbanization increases and the demand for water per capita grows.
  3. The effects of climate change, including longer and more severe droughts.
  4. Increased consumption of natural water resources for industrial activity leading to increases in the energy-intensive processes of wastewater reclamation and desalination.

Even in the Northeast and Midwest, which contain 84% of North America’s freshwater, increasingly extreme weather means that we all need to watch our water use – not to mention the costs of literally flushing wasted water down the drain.

Why Water Conservation?

Water management and conservation are critically important to a successful sustainability strategy. We think water and energy management are not mutually exclusive, but rather should always be considered together. A projected $473 billion investment is needed in the U.S. alone over the next 20 years to provide and maintain drinking water infrastructure. There is no better time to begin implementing water conservation projects in the built environment. Here are two examples of how our clients have included water as part of their conservation equation.

Bright Power’s EnergyScoreCards benchmarking platform uncovered historically poor water performance in the initial analysis of a New York City client’s mixed-use multifamily and commercial building. Using our ‘Find, Fix, Follow’ approach, our team tracked down and fixed a previously undetected water leak. Fast-forward nine months and the client has reduced water consumption by 19%, saving $20,000. To prevent issues like this in the future, building management is implementing our MoBIUS service for ongoing monitoring. Once it is up and running, we are able to find and fix problems in real time.  

The five-year drought (2013-17) through much of California put tremendous stress on its water supply One of our California clients recently installed low-flow aerators and showerheads across eight multifamily buildings and have seen an approximate 1.9 million gallon reduction in water consumption. That’s almost three Olympic sized swimming pools of water conservation for this client every year!

Making Water Part of Your Energy Equation

Water waste can often be overlooked. It can occur in the form of a slow but constant leak in a toilet or could be an unnoticed open valve that is piped directly to a drain. The good news is, building owners and managers can contribute to water conservation by making relatively modest investments like:

  • Low-flow faucet aerators, shower-heads, and toilets (which some local governments require by law).
  • Sub-meters to monitor building, unit level, and/or equipment water consumption, along with a company to actually monitor the data and react to it.
  • Consumption-based billing of occupants to promote conservation.
  • Thoughtful irrigation system planning including low-flow heads, nozzles, and controls.  
  • ENERGY STAR rated appliances including laundry equipment and dishwashers.
  • Participation (where available) in Automated Meter Reading (AMR) which provides interval data for thorough tracking of water consumption. Upgrading water meters is also reimbursable in some markets.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac promote decreased water consumption by way of their financing programs, which offer refinancing based on water reduction or targeted energy efficiency thresholds. Additionally, the  EPA (with the help of Fannie Mae and other research) has developed a Water Score allowing multifamily building owners to benchmark their water consumption in comparison with equivalent buildings across the country. Through benchmarking, owners also receive key insights on how buildings are performing and how their performance compares to historical data.

“Water is the ‘blue gold’ of the 21st century,” said Noel O’Halloran, chief investment officer of KBI Global Investors, a €9.2B Dublin asset manager that has run a water strategy since 2000. Building owners and property management companies that take an aggressive, strategic approach to water conservation can potentially realize significant financial savings while doing their part to help humanity turn away from the carbon trainwreck it is currently heading towards.

 


 

Sources:

Elaboration of data by United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision. http://www.worldometers.info/world-population.

“Great Lakes Facts and Figures.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 12 Sept. 2017, www.epa.gov/greatlakes/great-lakes-facts-and-figures.

New York City Water Board. (2016). New York City Water and Wastewater Rate Report – FY 2017.

Current Reservoir Levels, NYC Environmental Protection Agency, www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/drinking_water/maplevels_wide.shtml. 4/17/2018.

Flood, Chris. “The New Oil: How Investors Can Keep Water Flowing.” Financial Times, Financial Times, 12 May 2018, www.ft.com/content/c63d219c-536f-11e8-b3ee-41e0209208ec.

 

20 Jun

Two of Many Reasons We’re Proud This Pride Month

Bright Power affordable housing

Bright Power is especially proud this Pride Month to share two groundbreaking projects we’re working on: Crotona Senior Residences and Ingersoll Senior Residences. Both projects will provide quality affordable homes for low-income seniors in an LGBT-friendly environment. They will each house SAGE (services and advocacy for GLBT elders) Centers onsite. Each marks the first LGBT-friendly, low-income senior housing in its borough – Cortona Senior Residences in the Bronx, and Ingersoll Senior Residences in Brooklyn.

These two inspiring projects will meet the unique needs of their future residents. And, by integrating sustainability, they will be comfortable, healthy, and enjoyable spaces that also keep operating costs low, ensuring long-term affordability.

“I’m proud that we can deliver energy efficiency and solar power to a diverse array of clients and populations across the City. We’re able to give residents high quality, healthy places to live, while at the same time minimizing environmental impact and keeping operating costs low. We look forward to working on more projects with HELP USA, BFC Partners, and SAGE.”Jeffrey Perlman, President & Founder

Crotona Senior Residences

Crotona Senior Residences

“Crotona Senior is a prime example of a well rounded, integrated project that hits all three pillars of sustainability equally (environment, social, economic). I’m proud to work on this project, in particular, because it addresses the unique needs of LGBT seniors. Times have changed, and I’m thrilled that Bright Power can be a part of projects that prioritize the needs of demographics that would have historically been looked over.” – Andrea Mancino, Director of New Construction

Developed by HELP USA and SAGE
Located in Bronx
General Contractor: Procida
Architect: Magnusson Architecture and Planning
MEP: Johnson & Urban

Design Details:

  • Balanced ventilation for enhanced indoor air quality
  • Airtight and high-performance building envelope
  • High-efficiency HVAC system
  • High-efficiency lighting and controls strategies to enhance the ambiance
  • Solar PV design and installation
  • Active design to promote physical health
  • Community spaces to designed to enhance well being
  • Non-toxic finishes and materials

We are ensuring long-term sustainability by providing these services:

  • Enterprise Green Communities (EGC) Certification services
  • 90kW solar PV system design and installation
  • Commissioning (Cx)
  • NYSERDA New Construction Program incentive procurement and services

Read more about the project in NYREJ.

 

Ingersoll Senior Residences

Ingersoll Senior Residences

BFC Partners with SAGE is developing Ingersoll Senior Residences and will be Brooklyn’s first senior living environment that promotes diversity and safety for LGBT elders. Ingersoll Senior Residences will be a 17-story, 145-unit building that will ensure apartments are affordable to those earning below 60% of AMI while 30% of the units will be reserved for formerly homeless seniors. The onsite SAGE center will provide social services and supportive services for all residents. 

Developed by BFC Partners and SAGE
Located in Brooklyn
General Contractor: BFC Partners
Architect: Marvel Architects
MEP: Rodkin Cardinale

Design details:

  • Balanced ventilation for enhanced indoor air quality
  • Airtight and high-performance building envelope
  • High-efficiency HVAC system
  • High-efficiency lighting and controls strategies to enhance the ambiance
  • Active design to promote physical health
  • Community spaces to designed to enhance well being
  • Non-toxic finishes and materials

We are ensuring long-term sustainability by providing these services:

  • Enterprise Green Communities (EGC) Certification services
  • Commissioning (Cx)

BFC won CHPC’s Impact Award for Housing this April for their work on this project. Learn more about the project in NYHC.

18 Jun

Bright Employee: Michael Brusic

Bright Power Bright Employee

Michael Brusic Technical DirectorWe’re proud of the intelligent, passionate, and hardworking people that make up the Bright Power team. Each month, you’ll get a chance to meet one of them, understand how they contribute to the organization, and what makes them excited to come to work every day.

Meet Michael Brusic, Technical Director.

What are some of the things you like most about working at Bright Power?
Bright Power has allowed me to indulge my curiosity with a fascinating breadth of projects. In the last two weeks I’ve troubleshot variable speed drives on a cooling tower in Manhattan, kicked off repairs on a standing column well geothermal system in the Bronx, scoped out the fire protection system for an energy storage project in Brooklyn, and helped lobby for changes to New York State’s energy policies on distributed generation. I don’t think I’d get to do all that – and more – anywhere else. Bright Power encourages curiosity, and our leadership gives us the space and freedom to pursue interests like these because they understand that doing so will only grow our experience and capabilities.

I also feel fortunate that the impact of our work goes far beyond saving energy.  Improving the spaces where people live and work can help to reverse historical injustices and improve lives.

What are some projects and accomplishments you’re most proud of?
There’s a project we’ve been developing for almost four years that is closing on its construction financing this month. It will be one of the largest deep-energy retrofit projects on affordable housing in New York City. It will involve fuel conversion, a new heating plant, controls, rehabilitation of the ventilation system, lighting, and distributed generation. At the conclusion of the project, Bright Power will be acting as the complex’s energy manager to help make sure that the project remains a success post-construction. I see that as a culmination of many different services that Bright Power provides.

I’m also proud to be able to work on our distributed generation projects, many of which are helping to define the business case for, and drive forward the regulation of, complex multi-technology distributed generation.

Finally, I am honored to have served as the official commissioning agent for Bright Power’s new kegerator system and am excited about our plans to take it partially off-grid.

What’s the one service offering we have that you think is the most beneficial to clients and why?
Though it’s hard to pick, I think our commissioning and retro-commissioning services are unique. The goal of these services is not to deliver a product, but to deliver performance. Many traditional architectural and engineering firms don’t take responsibility for how a building performs operationally. There is tremendous value in having someone on your team who is willing to take the responsibility of both ensuring that the systems that were designed are installed and set up correctly, and also to ensure that they continue to operate effectively and efficiently. I think this can and has been valuable to our clients.

What are some of your hopes for the future of Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) and Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) in NYC?
REV, and the sub-efforts of VDER, represent a tremendous leap into the unknown for New York State and for the energy industry globally. I’m concerned about how fast the first phase of VDER was put into place and about possible negative impacts to the solar industry in New York State. But in the long term, I think the state’s willingness to “move fast and break things” represents an opportunity to revolutionize how a vast spectrum of technologies interact with energy markets. I hope that the State and the many diverse stakeholders in the REV proceeding will work together to tackle the vast amount of work that will be necessary in the coming years to do REV and VDER correctly with just the right amount of disruption.

 

04 Jun

Village East Towers Gets Their Cogen Units Delivered

Bright Power CHP, Resiliency
Village East Towers receives their two 65 kW Capstone cogeneration units and backup generators. Generators are on the left and the cogeneration turbines are on the right.

 

Village East Towers (VET) had their two 65kW Capstone cogeneration units delivered the last week of May.

The project design pairs the two cogeneration units with backup generators for added resiliency. The cogeneration units will provide electrical and thermal energy savings for the residents along with backup power in the event of an electrical blackout.

Bright Power first began working with the board of VET, a 434-unit Mitchell-Lama multifamily residential cooperative located on East 10th Street and Avenue C, in 2016 to conduct a feasibility analysis. VET’s architect then hired Bright Power to provide Design and Implementation services to ensure project success. The scope of work also includes replacing some of the electrical infrastructures at the property.

Bright Power has been working with VET’s architects, contractors, and the board to complete the project – set to be completed later this summer. To help offset the cost of the project, the co-op received a $9.95 million federal resiliency grant from HUD that was locally administered by the HDC.

Read more about the exciting project here.

21 May

Bright Employee: Jamil Ellis

Bright Power Bright Employee

Jamil Ellis CTOWe’re proud of the intelligent, passionate, and hardworking people that make up the Bright Power team. This month, we’re excited to introduce a new member of our team.

Meet Jamil Ellis, Chief Technology Officer.

What are some of the things you are excited about in your new role at Bright Power?
I always look to use my technology skills for good. I want what I do to have an impact and push the needle on creating more healthy buildings. I’m excited about the opportunity to work with people who are passionate about using their skills to make a positive impact on the planet. I find that technology is better used when there is a real impact on the physical world and a big bonus if it saves the planet.

Tell us about a project or accomplishment for which you’re proud.
One of my first leadership experiences at Major League Baseball comes to mind. I worked to rebuild the entire video experience in one off-season. The deadline constraints coupled with my love of baseball made it especially rewarding.

What’s something people might not know about you?
I speak Ukrainian at home with my wife and daughter. My daughter is trilingual – she speaks Ukrainian, Spanish, and English. I’m also working on two podcasts in my spare time.  Take a listen here and here. I also love karaoke and organize this Meetup group.

What’s the future of technology look like at Bright Power?
The future of technology at Bright Power will be guided by everyone here at the organization. I want to start a continual conversation about what the future will bring. Technology is always changing and is not one size fits all. It will take all of us working together to get the right solutions for our business.

What are some trends that you are seeing in the industry that excite you?
Everything going on with smart buildings, sensors, and meters is game-changing. Specifically getting new data streams and using that data as another tool will allow us to even more effectively deliver the right solutions for each building.

17 May

What to Know, Now: Energy Market Update May 2018

Dan Levin Energy Markets, procurement

It’s not easy to buy the low, but make sure you don’t buy the high.

The Bottom Line

Right now, the market and pricing are telling us that a two or three year fixed rate agreement is the safe and smart choice. Going long, as in buying longer-term fixed rate contracts, is the safe bet right now. With third-party supplier pricing for electric and gas still comparing favorably to 2017 and winter 2018 rates, many customers are pulling the trigger and capturing a near market low, before the tide changes.

What to know about 2018

Today’s prices are low, based on high levels and efficient natural gas production in the US. However, there is a serious concern that the upcoming hot summer may cause higher demand for electricity to power additional air conditioning. This would reduce the amount of gas we have in storage for later use and cause market volatility. If this happens, gas prices may rise this summer and impact winter prices as well. If you have contracts expiring in 2018, we recommend evaluating your future contract now!

Why Act Now

Many property owners and managers are risk adverse. It’s better to capture a 5% guaranteed year to year cost savings than take a risk that could result in a 30% cost increase! We help our clients choose the right plan for their budgets and their risk levels. Right now, the market and pricing are telling us that a two or three year fixed rate agreement is the safe and smart choice.