Tenant Billing Software - BMS vs. EMS

Hi, John Hobson here, new MACH Customer Operations Manager, based on the East Coast.  As many of my previous projects have involved tenant billing through a BMS, and as MACH authored a BMS vs. EMS blog previously, the team suggested I write a “new eyes” update based on my experience.

BMS Tenant Billing Thoughts:  

Most of the major Smart Building vendors such as Siemens, Johnson Controls, Trane, Schneider and Honeywell offer solutions which can integrate into a BMS.  

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However, as a PE and CEM, I often found the perceived benefit of a complex Tenant Billing system integrated with a BMS to capture the costs of thermostat and schedules changes was often NOT worth the cost and headache associated with the project.  

Some of the issues that we saw in our projects included:

  • High Upfront Costs - by definition a BMS upgrade can run in the tens of thousands

  • Customer “Locked In” - In my experience, tenant billing systems through the BMS typically require meters to be a specific manufacture or that some additional hardware (“gateway device”) be installed so the BMS will communicate to the submeters without issue.  These systems require additional costs in order for the vendor or controls contractor to configure the system and routinely provide software/firmware updates throughout the year.  This has the effect of locking in the building to a specific vendor for any future changes.

  • Not User Friendly - a BMS is designed with the building engineer in mind, and not the management and accounting teams that typically use the Tenant Billing application.  I heard many complaints from customers that the Tenant Billing application through the BMS felt overly complicated and unintuitive.  

  • Dollar Shortcuts - I also heard customer complaints that the BMS did not accurately reflect their bills because it relied on a simple dollar per kWh conversion to calculate all utility costs.

  • Expensive and Unwieldy Upgrades -  On one project, the project required additional points requiring me to upgrade my license, and required frequent software updates.  The vendor did not communicate the release of their software updates, so my customer had to tell me they were having problems with their BMS before we knew to update the software.  Updates required a site visit from the vendor which could take weeks, though some were more responsive than others.

EMS Tenant Billing Software Thoughts -

As I have gotten up to speed on MACH’s tenant billing software, I can see the advantages they and other EMS vendors have in building a modern platform outside of a BMS environment.  A few thoughts: 

  • Flexible and Cost-effective - MACH Energy’s Tenant Billing Software supports both manual meter reading and communicating meters.  As a result, you can choose to upgrade to communicating meters as your budget allows, and still have a portion of your meters read manually.  

  • Modern, user-based design - MACH’s cloud-based platform can assist all users: engineers, facility and property management and accounting.  The software supports accurate meter reading, calculating blended rates, creating tenant bills, sending data to accounting, and maintaining billing history.   

  • Mobile app - a “must have” today

  • Easy upgrades - unlike required site visits, modern software is cloud-based and software upgrades typically happen automatically

  • Tariff engine - key to accurately calculating actual utility costs and definitely not what I saw with the big vendors.  With a provider like MACH with a built-in tariff engine, a user can bill their tenants at any time of the month with confidence that their billing will accurately match their total utility and supply bills.

All in all, it was interesting to see and understand the differences an enterprise Energy Management Software (EMS) provides for tenant billing software. 

A more detailed discussion of MACH Energy’s Tenant Billing can be found here.

I look forward to meeting more MACH customers!

John Hobson

Tenant billing in action...video!

With demographic changes and recruiting challenges leading to leaner teams, many CRE owners, property managers, engineers etc. are looking to modernize an often antiquated tenant billing process.

Increasingly they are looking at energy management software and tenant billing software to streamline this process and increase cash flow.  In response, MACH hosted a tenant billing software webinar in December. 

The call was led by MACH veteran Cliff McAuliffe and special guest Joe Sesto of CBRE / Able.  The call was well attended, with 50-60% of attendees stating they have 15 or more meters to report on each month – a daunting task!

A big highlight was a Cliff and Joe production, a short, authentic video of the mobile app...look out Hollywood!

Thanksgiving for Energy Star

As we discussed in our Energy Star white paper a year ago, many industry participants believed the Energy Star program was at risk, though now it seems to be going stronger than ever.  It is great to see the industry collaborate to show the program’s value…what a difference a year makes!

We wanted to share a few Energy Star-related market updates:

  • CBECS scores changes - As pictured below, due to the many efficiency advances since the last 2003 CBECS survey, scores on average went down in some cases more than 12 points, which was expected.  

    Interestingly, when we ran the numbers, the typical MACH building saw a smaller decrease of ~4-5 points, which may imply users that are investing in energy management software are better prepared than the average building.

  • New York buildings – at various New York events, there were many conversations being had about the larger than expected Energy Star decreases experienced in buildings using steam, some more than 20 points.  One way to combat this is operating changes. A data point: MACH energy analytics identified on average operating improvements that could yield 5-6 points in score improvements.  Stay tuned.

  • Energy Star and Tenant Billing Software –  we have seen continued interest in modernizing the submetering process with a large number of participants in our latest webinar.  And more than 60% said they had dozens of submeters!  Many of these loads are monitoring data center spaces, which can make Energy Star reporting challenging – which a modern tenant billing solutions that integrates with Energy Star can help automate to improve accuracy and timeliness.

  • Finally, the Energy Star program is still taking comments on the CBECS change – to leave feedback, please visit www.energystar.gov/scoreupdates. 

Happy Thanksgiving from the MACH team!

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Another Satisfied Customer: Lessons from Net Promoter Score

At MACH Energy, our goal has always been to provide our customers with a modern, intuitive energy management software in order to help commercial building management save time and money…and generally to make their job easier!

We often hear positive market feedback but quantifying and summarizing this data can be challenging.   It also can be difficult to see the full picture, as people may be reluctant to disclose frustrations in person or on the phone.  In an effort to better understand our customers’ satisfaction with our energy monitoring system, we initiated our first Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey.

The NPS system is a customer service and satisfaction metric that allows companies to see what their customers think about their user experience. The program enables software and other companies to monitor customer satisfaction, respond to feedback, and improve the product or user experience.  

Survey says…

Happily, we found the scores mirrored anecdotal evidence with the MACH Energy NPS score consistently 60+.  Over 50 is considered excellent and over 60 rivals Apple.

But what kind of feedback do we get? What are examples of satisfied customers?

  1. Savings – “MACH’s energy analytics helped us save over $50,000 a year in power costs.” 

  2. Make Your Job Easier – “The mobile app is so easy to use. Tenant meter billing used to take hours and now takes 40 minutes. No more Excel input!"

  3.  Focus on making customers happy - "Great product with awesome support"

Lessons

  1. We needed to communicate better about some features, like real-time data, which came up and has been available for more than a decade!  

  2. Some responses showed users grappling with their sustainability or ESG mandates (which we described in our last blog here.).  Another good reminder that energy analytics need to be intuitive and easy to use! 

  3. NPS is simply one metric – a good score, or a bad score, isn’t make or break 

We’ll continue to improve how we help you save money and time and make your job easier!

Please let us know how we are doing - if you have comments or questions about our modern energy management software, please connect at contact@machenergy.com.

Forecast from Capitol Hill: Dry Spell for Energy Efficiency?

Forecast from Capitol Hill: Dry Spell for Energy Efficiency?

Last year, the Trump administration announced a federal budget proposal recommending a 31% cut in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), jeopardizing successful programs like ENERGY STAR. Seemingly spared the chopping block for the remainder of 2017, its fate was threatened again when the fiscal year ended on September 30th. Though the ENERGY STAR program was preserved, the House of Representatives passed an appropriations package slashing its 2018 funding to $31 million, a 53% reduction from 2017’s funding of $66 million.

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Minimize Errors and Expedite Your Tenant Billing Process

Minimize Errors and Expedite Your Tenant Billing Process

Are you a property manager with a lot on your plate every day? Checking emails, generating reports, attending meetings, managing deadlines, checking more emails... So when do you have time for tenant billback? Are inconveniences like manually reading submeters, paper billing, and a slow turnaround time weighing you down? If so, let’s see how automated tenant billing can quickly and efficiently address these issues (and more!).

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Recognition and Requirement of Measurement and Verification (M&V)

In the wake of climate change and a growing interest in sustainability, cities and states across the nation are developing or have implemented energy and climate plans. Seeking to increase bottom lines while reducing environmental impacts, these programs often target multiple opportunities for improvement, including vehicle fleets, public lighting, and water and energy use. With buildings accounting for nearly 40% of total energy consumption in the United States, enhancing the performance of an area’s building stock can lead to significant impacts.

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Carr Properties And MACH Energy Strengthen Long-Term Partnership

Oakland, CA., June 12, 2017 — MACH Energy, the leading provider of commercial real estate (CRE) energy management solutions announced today the completion of a portfolio master services agreement with Carr Properties – a highly respected Washington, D.C. based commercial real estate pioneer. The agreement covers the Carr portfolio and demonstrates the higher level of partnership and commitment between the two companies.

MACH Energy and Carr Properties have worked together for over eight years. The partnership is defined by collaborative innovation and mutual vision. Carr Properties’ portfolio will continue to advance time and energy savings through MACH’s hallmark platform, including these recently added features:

  • Easily customized portfolio reporting, including multiple segment comparisons such as regional views, HVAC system types, etc.
  • Automated tenant billing for both manual and communicating sub-meters
  • Measurement & Verification (M&V) tool for evaluating capital projects

“At Carr we understand the value of energy management through energy analytics,” said Max Greninger, Property Sustainability Manager at Carr Properties. “We have collaborated with MACH for many years, most recently on their M&V tool. They listen to what is important to us. It isn’t surprising to see how incorporating our feedback and others in the industry has led to intuitive, best-in-class software analytics and visibility.  MACH has also invested in a team of experts, so that set-up and ongoing support is quick and productive.  All this contributes to us tightening, and maintaining, our building operations.”

MACH Energy looks forward to helping Carr Properties once again enhance its asset values through rigorous analytics, solid energy savings, and a robust reporting system. “We have seen operational efficiencies and savings increase over time with the MACH Energy software. Their engagement with us has our entire team thinking about how to operate more efficiently. And MACH has streamlined many of our monthly building’s task requirements and improved our portfolio reporting functions,” added Rodney Lambert, Carr’s Director of Engineering. “We look forward to continued improvements with MACH as we spearhead new initiatives to improve our buildings.”

Jon Moeller, CEO of MACH Energy, stated: “Carr has demonstrated exceptional market leadership by making energy efficiency a key part of their culture and we couldn’t be prouder to have worked with them for now eight years and counting. More importantly, we are pleased Carr’s efforts have resulted in long-term energy efficiency success, supported by our software and expertise, including our CRE veteran Cliff McAuliffe. Both Carr and MACH will continue this momentum as we collectively grow.”

To find out more:

 

About MACH

MACH Energy is a leading cloud-based and mobile provider of CRETech energy and water management solutions for commercial real estate property managers, operators, engineers, and owners. With some of the nation’s most iconic buildings under management, MACH counts hundreds of commercial, REIT, hotel and corporate building owners as customers encompassing over half a billion square feet of properties across the country.

 

Company contact:
contact@machenergy.com

Media contact:
marketing@machenergy.com

MACH Energy Launches New M&V 2.0 Capabilities

Measurement and verification functionality leapfrogs market by making project analysis easy and accurate

OAKLAND, CA, June 7, 2017 — MACH Energy, the leading provider of energy management software, announced the launch of its new version of Initiatives featuring Measurement and Verification (M&V 2.0) capabilities. MACH’s software allows commercial real estate operators, 3rd party partners, and progressive utilities to track and quantify differences in energy use load patterns over time. MACH’s products currently manage iconic landmarks, hotels, and office buildings nationwide, such as the World Financial Center in New York, the San Francisco Ferry Building, and the Aon Center In Chicago.

“MACH’s Initiatives has already helped us achieve significant savings and is a convenient reporting tool for our asset managers,” said Max Greninger, Property Sustainability Manager of Carr Properties .“The new M&V functionality helps us evaluate and communicate “What if” scenarios and actual savings to the team, and also assists in ROI reporting and calculations. We’re glad that MACH continues to innovate with functional and useful tools like these.”

“We’ve taken a standards-based approach to project and operational changes and integrated them into our easy to use Initiatives,” said Brian Glynn, MACH’s Senior Vice President of Product Management. “This solution also leverages MACH’s extensive experience with meter based data and our robust tariff engine. It is already employed in a multitude of use cases, including tracking capital and operational project savings, estimating potential projects, and demonstrating third-party verification. It will enable building teams to accurately evaluate their projects, and communicate those savings to all stakeholders.”

The M&V function is an expansion of Initiatives, MACH’s existing tool that automatically identifies operational savings opportunities. M&V tracks the savings of any energy project by enabling users to apply their own custom specifications whether these variables are already implemented or are being evaluated. Additional features include:

  • Tracking a project’s savings over the course of the equipment’s life
  • Utilizing MACH’s normalized baseline, or provide a custom baseline
  • “What if” project justification with the calculation of annualized savings, payback period and return on investment (ROI)
  • Portfolio view to analyze projects across buildings
  • Adjusting savings for capital costs and rebate incentive programs
  • Automatic email reporting at user configurable frequencies support a range of different stakeholders
  • Provides approachable executive level reports with analysis and visualizations

The M&V solution is based on a number of standards that define savings projections and the measurement and verification process. These include ASHRAE Guideline 14, International Performance Measurement & Verification Protocol (IPMVP), and the Department of Energy’s Measurement and Verification Guidelines.

 

About MACH Energy

MACH Energy Inc. is a leading provider of CRETech energy management solutions for commercial real estate property managers, operators, engineers, and owners. With some of the nation’s most iconic buildings under management, MACH counts hundreds of commercial, REIT, hotel and corporate building owners as customers encompassing over half a billion square feet of properties across the country.