A Thanksgiving message from our CEO, Jeff Perlman
A few weeks ago, a Bright Power employee attended a tenant meeting at a building that recently completed a heating system upgrade project with us. Tenant meetings can sometimes be like walking into the lions’ den, but in this case, the first thing he received was not a roar but a hug from an elderly lady. “Thank you! My apartment has never been more comfortable – I haven’t had reliable heat in years, until now,” she said.
Moments like this crystalize why we do what we do. Together, we make buildings better, which makes people’s lives better, and, importantly, makes those buildings more valuable and reduces our harmful impacts on the planet. It is a winning proposition all around. And we are thankful that this is the work that we get to do every day.
In this time of Thanksgiving, when we reflect on what is important to us, and especially now, as we try to heal the wounds from a bitter, bruising election season in which facts were often ignored, I want to reaffirm our commitment to some of the basic truths that we live by here at Bright Power.
Climate Change Isn’t Going Anywhere…and Neither Are We
Protecting and preserving our planet has always been and always will be a no-brainer for us. In the last few years, we’ve been fortunate to have strong support from federal and state governments who are committed and connected to our mission of reducing the negative impacts of buildings on the planet. It’s hard to know how the incoming president and his administration will coincide with this mission, and it’s safe to assume that we may encounter some new obstacles. But regardless of what happens at the federal level, states, municipalities and, importantly, the private sector will continue to lead.
We can’t lose sight of the important progress we’ve made. Over the last 8 years, we have largely been able to transform the conversation from “why should we reduce carbon emissions and other negative environmental impacts of our buildings?” to “how can we do better?”
With many major cities, large swaths of people and some of the most valuable property at risk of being submerged (or turned to inhospitable desert) in the coming decades, we need to work hard to prevent the worst outcomes while also planning for the impacts that wilder storms, more severe draughts and more vicious floods will have on business, the economy, humanity and the planet. All of this directly impacts our work and our clients. For example, CBRE has written about how rising sea levels effect real estate developers, Morgan Stanley about how climate change impacts investors, and the head of the Reinsurance Association of America about the climate change impacts on the insurance industry .
Our Work is Good Business
For better or for worse, saving the planet isn’t the sole driver of most decisions. Fortunately, the work we do at Bright Power to save the planet also makes good business sense. Wasting resources like energy and water is bad business and bad for the bottom line – that’s never going to change. And the benefits are more than just saving on operating costs – implementing best energy management practices leads to more comfortable spaces that are easier to lease, longer lasting equipment, and fewer emergencies and unplanned equipment replacements. A building with better indoor air, better light, fewer toxins, on-site clean power generation and lower operating costs is a more desirable building. And a more desirable building is a more valuable building. (In fact, acknowledging and evangelizing the business benefits of our work might just advance our cause with the new president and his administration…)
Resiliency is Key
We talk a lot about resiliency, often in the context of new and exciting backup power technology. But now more than ever, it’s important to talk about resiliency in a broader context. Being resilient means being able to bounce back after a hit, a storm, a change. And times they are a changin’.
Being resilient means being prepared, having a strong foundation, and clear plans and principles to turn to when something unexpected occurs. At Bright Power, we’ve spent the last 12 years building a great track record and a strong network of forward-thinking partners who understand the value of what we do for each other. We are so thankful to get to work with and for you every day. It’s because of our great achievements together that I know we will be able to bounce back from whatever tries to push us off course.
Lastly, I want to put a few things in writing that were always a part of who we are as a company, but seem like they should be made explicit given what we have heard in our national discourse over the past few months.
At Bright Power we celebrate the diversity in our workforce, are proud of our support for working mothers, and aim to create a comfortable and safe working environment for all of our employees regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or country of origin.
We are committed to making this world a better place for everyone: for you, your employees and your residents; for us, our families and our friends; as well as for all the other people and creatures all over the globe whom we may never meet. We believe that this isn’t just the right thing to do – it is the way to build a great, long-lasting and important company.
Regardless of who occupies the Oval Office, and how much support we get from the Federal government, we will continue to find opportunities to deliver solid business value that improves our communities and preserves the planet.
Real estate owners and managers are often spooked by energy and water investment projects for a variety of reasons. Maybe they’re haunted by unsuccessful past projects or maybe the results are just ghosting them. Whatever the reason may be, success lies in the approach. Below are some of our top tricks that will help you reap the treats of an intelligence-driven approach to energy and water management.
Don’t be Caught by Surprise
There’s nothing like an unsuspected scream or menacing shadow to scare the bejeezus out of you. However, scary situations are often avoidable with careful planning and awareness of your surroundings. For example, locking into a fixed-rate energy procurement contract is a proactive way to manage the cost of energy supply against volatile (and sometimes terrifying) market prices. This is a particularly useful strategy to consider in a mild autumn, when prices are stable. If you’d like to learn more about this winter’s energy market predictions, check out our blog on the subject here.
Survey the Whole Scene (or don’t just grab the first pumpkin that you see)
When you hit the pumpkin patch, you need to survey your options before landing on the perfectly shaped, sized, and inspirational gourd. That’s how we recommend implementing energy projects too, especially across a large portfolio. For example, take government and utility financial incentives: the SoCalRen program is an amazing opportunity to upgrade properties in Southern California at very low cost, but which properties should you choose? By evaluating your entire portfolio, you can assess where your investment dollars will have the biggest impact and show the highest returns.
Don’t be on the Losing End of Dramatic Irony
If only you could explain to the horror movie lead that answering the door is a poor choice because you know what is lurking on the other side. Alas, they can’t see the whole picture. Buildings are complicated environments with sprawling, interrelated systems and you want someone who can think holistically across all of them in order to effectively manage energy and water. Just because there is a heating problem doesn’t mean that the solution is in the boiler room. In fact, sometimes the source of the problem isn’t related to the equipment at all. In multifamily buildings, residents are as important a factor as any to consider when diagnosing any problem. This is why we recommend whole-building audits and continuous energy management services. Having our engineers go inside a building, speak with residents, and examine all of the systems’ functionality is crucial in diagnosing the root of an issue and presenting an informed solution. Providing continuous expertise and energy management lets us help you anticipate problems and recommend how to avoid them. Otherwise you’re liable to be frightened purely because you’re operating with incomplete information.
Don’t Jump to (Scary) Conclusions
As any parent can attest, some of the scariest things are the things that we don’t understand. And the only way to combat that is to probe a bit deeper and to figure out what is actually going on. It’s like in the Wizard of Oz when they finally peek behind the curtain…or those big, spooky Halloween displays that make your five-year-old scream and cry until you show him that it is just a toy (with an on-off switch), not a real skeleton coming to life.
For example, one of our clients always found water on the floor of their boiler room. Noticing that it appeared to be leaking from the bottom of their water-tube steam boiler, they called the manufacturer’s representative to come out, drain, and inspect the boiler. When he opened it up and saw corrosion on the tubes, the rep said “it’s all gotta go.” Our client was looking at frightening repair costs, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Before rushing into anything, we helped our client select a nondestructive testing (NDT) company and supervised a more thorough ultrasonic testing of the boiler tubes. When the results came back, they were surprising. The corrosion had looked bad, but there was actually minimal loss of tube wall thickness. When we leak-tested the boiler, there were just two pinhole leaks and a leaking joint. The root cause was likely that this boiler had run much more than the standby boiler, and therefore experienced many more heat up and cooldown cycles. The rep replaced the two leaking tubes, we fixed the control logic so that the lead boiler would rotate weekly, and together we filled, started, and tested the boiler – just in time for heating season.
There is so much to gain from strategic energy and water management. From avoided capital costs to utility bill savings and resident retention, the list of benefits is hard to pass up. But in order to get the treats, it’s important to bear in mind these tricks.