Owners and managers are often spooked by completing energy and water improvements for a variety of reasons. Maybe they’re haunted by unsuccessful past projects or maybe the results are just ghosting them.
Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that 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 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 energy audits and MoBIUS® real-time energy management (RTEM). Having our engineers go inside a building with proper COVID safety precautions or speak to site staff remotely will help us examine all of the systems’ functionality. The assessment and discovery phase, whether it be remote or on-site, is critical in diagnosing the root of an issue and presenting an informed solution. Providing ongoing and real-time energy management expertise lets us help you anticipate problems and recommend how to prevent them. Otherwise, you’re liable to be frightened purely because you’re operating with incomplete information.
Don’t Just Grab The First Pumpkin 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 and water improvements, especially across a large portfolio. Take government and utility financial incentive programs for example. NYSERDA’s FlexTech Program offers up to 75% of the cost to study deep carbon reduction across your entire multifamily portfolio. And, the Low Carbon Pathways Program will provide over $750 per apartment for implementation. The new Tri-County REN Multifamily Program in California is another opportunity to upgrade properties at a low cost. The program will be able to serve 1,600 apartments annually. But which properties should you choose? By evaluating your entire portfolio, Bright Power can assess where your investment dollars will have the biggest impact and show the highest returns.
Don’t Be Spooked!
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 can be a proactive way to manage the cost of energy supply against volatile (and sometimes terrifying) market prices. If you’d like to learn more about upcoming energy market predictions, contact our energy markets team.
Don’t Jump to Scary Conclusions
Some of the scariest things are the things that we don’t understand. And the only way to combat that is to probe 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 her 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 cool-down 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 the heating season.
Look for Energy Vampires
Be intentional about what you and your occupants plug in. With more people working from home, there’s been an increase in the number of plugged-in devices in multifamily properties. At the same time, office buildings, which still might have significantly reduced occupancy, may still have all devices plugged in as if they have 100% daily occupancy. Plug loads add up! Studies have found that plug loads account for around 30% of electricity usage in offices. In high performance buildings, plug loads represent a higher percentage of overall building energy consumption, sometimes more than 50%! To fight vampires, we all have to work together. Encourage building occupants to unplug devices when they aren’t in use and utilize smart plugs to help reduce energy consumption. If you own or manage an office space where most occupants do not venture in daily, energy vampires are lurking around every corner. Remind your tenants to unplug before they leave.
Drips Don’t Just Provide Dramatic Tension
In horror films, dramatic tension can build through dripping noises. But drips can be much more sinister than they seem! Dripping faucets or showerheads and running toilets can all make for a horrific water bill. There are many actions individual occupants can take to ensure they prevent water waste. Still, building owners and operators need to understand their property’s usage to ensure there isn’t a sequel to that scary water bill. Our Energy Analysts utilize our EnergyScoreCards platform to monitor and analyze building water and energy consumption. They look for trends, alert building owners to spikes in consumption, and provide actionable insights so that scary water bills don’t become recurring nightmares.
There is so much to gain by having strategic energy and water management partner, rather than remain spooked by the darkness in the unknown. 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.