What it’s Like to Utilize Remote Consulting: The Palatine’s Story


More and more leaders in real estate are creating sustainability goals to help mitigate their carbon emissions while increasing resident comfort. Nuveen Real Estate is one of those leaders. Nuveen Real Estate has tasked its asset managers and property managers to reduce their properties’ energy intensity to help the company achieve a portfolio-wide 30% by 2030 energy reduction target.

To get them there, Nuveen Real Estate has called on Bright Power to help their multifamily properties find areas of energy and water waste, fix the root causes, and follow the performance to ensure their properties are on track to meet their sustainability goal.

The Palatine, a Nuveen Real Estate property managed by Bozzuto Management Company, located in Arlington, Virginia has been working with Bright Power’s remote consulting and support team to repair an HVAC rooftop unit (RTU). We sat down with Peter Brosnan, Property Manager for The Palatine, to learn more about his experience and next steps.

Bright Power: Give us some background. What made you reach out to Bright Power’s remote support team?
Peter: Bozzuto Management Company and Nuveen Real Estate are both committed to sustainability. We got on a call to discuss what steps The Palatine was taking to contribute to the company’s 30% energy reduction goal. We reviewed our past performance in EnergyScoreCards. We had already done several things that reduced our electricity consumption but saw that our gas usage had drastically changed. Our HVAC servicer had already told us that a rooftop unit needed to be replaced or dramatically overhauled and that explained the drastic change in gas usage. This started other conversations about Bright Power’s remote support capabilities.

Bright Power: Tell us more about the HVAC issue.
Peter: Our HVAC vendor told us that we would need a replacement for our rooftop unit (RTU). There were maintenance issues and inconsistent temperatures. We also saw some leaking. It wasn’t impacting residents, but it easily could have if we didn’t address it. The conversations about energy performance turned into conversations about the RTU. We have great resources at Bozzuto to help understand maintenance costs, but I don’t have the expertise on RTUs personally.

Bright Power: How did Bright Power help?
Peter: The bigger thing is that this is a huge project. A full replacement of both RTUs was over $350,000! On several occasions, we sent Matt Brown on your remote support team some work order tickets to review them, and he even got on a call with our vendors to make sure we got a clear picture of what we really needed.

We have a specific bidding process and it’s really important that the scope of our bid is accurate, but also consistent. We needed each of those bids to be the same, so there was a lot of back and forth. We collected different proposals for replacing and overhauling the RTU. I actually got on a call with Matt to confirm what should be in our proposal. And so that was really helpful as well. Matt looked at all of them to make sure we were comparing apples to apples across the proposals.

In the end, Matt found that we could replace specific parts rather than the whole RTU! That’s huge savings right there.

Bright Power: What are the next steps?
Peter: We chose a vendor and contracts are in place. Now we’re working on getting the work scheduled. There’s a lot that has to get completed as far as permits. The vendor we selected has been on site a few times just to cover their bases, but basically, the next step is a project schedule.

Bright Power: What advice would you give another property manager if they found themselves in a similar situation?
Peter: Be patient and work through all the information you’re given. And let all of the information come to you before making a decision. I think what really helped is just how thorough we went through everything. We have the resources on our side, but being able to talk to an expert directly and work through the process is incredibly helpful.

There is so much going on with property management on a daily basis, on the ground level, and things as big as this can go poorly if it’s rushed or if vendors do not have your best interests in mind. In this case, we could have ended up unnecessarily replacing expensive equipment, but instead, we are only replacing parts. That’s because we used the resources we have and were thorough.

Bright Power: What is something that you wish you knew from the start?
Peter: The issue seemed to have gone on longer than we realized. So I wish we had figured it out earlier. But really simply, I didn’t know that we had this resource in Bright Power. We never utilized remote support or consulting. I think there are probably other situations where Bright Power could have come in handy.

Bright Power: How do you see using Bright Power’s remote support and consulting in the future?
Peter: Mostly, it’s finding ways to continue to lower our energy consumption. It’s important and valued by Bozzuto as well. And that’s what really started the conversation. Also, if any instances like this arise in the future where you know there’s something wrong and you need a second opinion. That’s something I went to Matt with right away and asked him how we could narrow down our scope. Things like that—I would not hesitate at all to contact Bright Power.