Scenario: You started benchmarking a customer’s building as part of your PM program. Things were progressing nicely then Energy Star decided to mash things up to make it a little more interesting. You get a call from the client mildly concerned about a 30 point drop in their score in two months. You got a crash course in statistical analysis (stayed in a Holiday Inn Express that night) and have talked your client off the ledge. Now what?
My last couple of posts have focused on the recent changes in Energy Star Portfolio Manager’s underlying data set, CBECS. Those posts attempted to focus on the “How” and “Why” it happened. In this post I want to challenge you to think about “What” you and your team can potentially do to correct the reductions in scores, regardless of how much they've dropped. Driving up the score will lead to the benefit of measurable reductions in building operating costs, one of the most powerful value propositions in our industry.
Assuming you have met with the client and explained that the drop in score is more than likely about factors outside of their control, the conversation should then shift to the steps you can take to build a plan to drive down consumption. These steps should include:
- Review the ESPM inputs including utility bills, meters and building inputs like occupancy, # of computers, and other variables that are included to drive the score.
- Any other factors that may have increased consumption that aren’t included above including but not limited to additional square footage added, any new equipment that has been added, changes in business condition, etc.
- At this point our clients generally run an Assessment of the facility. This entails placing wireless sensors in zones throughout the building to look for relatively inexpensive ways to correct problems. These low and no cost measures may be implemented independently or integrated with more comprehensive recommendations as discussed below.
For clients that are qualified and motivated, these drops in score have acted as a catalyst to drive deeper investment by owners. We’ve seen situations where:
- Tenants have made Energy Star certification a condition of their lease
- Municipalities and certain Government legislation require specific actions for ESPM scores that fall below certain score thresholds. The Seattle, WA market is a great example of this with their "Tune Up" program.
- Owner occupied facilities that are committed to sustainability and Energy Star is their platform for attacking their carbon footprint.
Energy Star is going through a process of statistically validating the impacts these changes are having and is formally conducting a review process so there may be further adjustments. However, we are hearing from our clients a lot of their clients appear to be moving forward.
Scenarios like these are driving further investment into tools like real time building analytics and capital planning that drives equipment and controls upgrades.