Bridging the Gap Between Energy Use Goals and Energy Use Results

The commercial real estate industry prides itself on accountability and execution, but even many of the leaders in the field are failing to meet the expectations of tenants and the markets in one crucial area.

Facility and property management teams as well as other key players in the commercial real estate industry are increasingly prioritizing energy efficiency and energy reduction strategies.  A study released by Honeywell and KRC Research in the fall surveyed hundreds of building operators, and almost all respondents indicated energy efficiency was important.  However, their buildings averaged a “smart building” score of 35/100.  The American Institute of Architects, which reports each year how many professionals accept the challenge to reduce energy use by 60%, provided another example of this trend.  Although more and more professionals take the pledge each year, the results do not meet the goal; the average reduction fell short at 34%.  As a community, building management professionals are committing to energy efficiency, so why are so many properties failing to make significant progress?

A troublesome myth proliferating throughout the commercial real estate and energy efficiency space professes that the solution to reducing energy use is through expensive retrofits and installations.  Many property managers or owners may balk at the expenditure required to install building automation system, smart elevators, smart lighting or any other costly upgrade promised to modernize buildings and reduce energy use.  Aside from the risky capital expenditure required by these retrofits, management teams can only guess at the actual impact of any given installation on a building’s energy use without a legitimate data-driven analysis.  Whether a building management professional is looking to fulfill a pledge to reduce use by 60%, or improve their Energy Star score, or create energy savings, they need accurate, real-time data on their buildings’ operations and energy consumption to know where to begin. By providing critical analytics and illustrative graphs, Energy Management Systems (EMS) empower property management teams to accomplish and even surpass their energy efficiency goals. 

For building engineers or facility managers who are looking to cut down spending on energy use and optimize their building’s operations, EMS is the natural first step .  Whether or not a property has a Building Management System, which automates controls of the buildings operations, EMS can be installed easily and inexpensively. Many building management teams will choose to adopt EMS as their first and only step towards energy efficiency, especially after their properties experience the immediate energy savings that EMS delivers, not to mention the time-saving features such as automated budget creation and Energy Star score reporting.  For others, EMS is the first step that provides crucial insight into future retrofits.

Although EMS has proven to improve customers’ Energy Star scores, cut energy spending and reduce emissions, some property management teams may seek additional building upgrades to meet their energy efficiency goals.  Dan Probst, the Global Chairman of JLL’s Energy and Sustainability team and an expert in the field, articulates three tasks necessary for a successful energy efficiency improvement plan.  Probst recommends that decision-makers rank the energy impact of each potential project, review energy consumption with energy engineers, and use a “baseline energy model” to predict costs, savings and performance indicators.  If executed properly, these are the steps that will lead to choosing the project with the best ROI.  In the abstract, this prescriptive process seems it would indeed guide a management team towards a solution for energy efficiency.  But in reality, decision-makers cannot so easily acquire accurate statistics and usage analytics.  EMS fills the information gap so  your property can follow best practices when it comes to evaluating retrofits and renovations.  

Clearly, the commercial real estate industry is facing a large gap between energy efficiency goals and actual reduction in energy use.  MACH’s flagship EMS software platform, Insights, bridges that divide so property management teams can overcome the obstacles preventing their buildings from achieving significant energy use reduction.  The software monitors your buildings utility usage and analyzes thoseat data into actionable reports that inform solutions for energy efficiency.  Properties equipped with Insights will stand above their peers when it comes to meeting energy goals.