What does going “green” mean anyway?” Is it only about conserving natural resources? Or is it about reducing our carbon footprint—whatever that is? It usually encompasses those and more, but from a business perspective the question is: What green concepts do I need to embrace that will benefit my residents, my bottom line, and our environment?

Energy and utility conservation is the most tangible green concept, and the most likely to contribute financially to the organization. When a business conserves energy they are reducing a significant cost, (which usually rises every year) along with reducing demand for our finite, natural resources.

Energy conservation can be achieved by reducing the amount of energy (measured in kilowatt hours, therms and BTUs) expended in heating, cooling, and ventilating the building; illuminating the building (interior and exterior lighting); heating domestic/ potable water; powering appliances and equipment (including pool and spa pumps and heaters). The air-tightness of the building envelope (insulation, windows, doors, roof) contributes to the amount of energy usage. Another usage factor to incorporate is behavioral—how the on-site staff operates and maintains the community, and how residents utilize controllable energy drivers (including thermostat control, hot water usage, plug load, etc.)

The question becomes: Which of these areas are currently performing at optimal efficiency levels and in which of these areas can I achieve greater savings? An energy assessment can provide those answers.

Energy assessment defined
Community energy assessments, commonly referred to as energy audits, are a comprehensive, diagnostic-based evaluations of the buildings, systems, equipment and energy consumption at a multifamily community. The primary objective of performing the community assessment is to identify specific modifications that will reduce cost by improving energy usage and efficiency.

Upon completion, an Energy Manage-ment Plan details recommended modifications called Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs), in an report that includes financial data such as cost, rebates, savings, pay back periods and return on investment.
The Energy Management Plan becomes the owner’s or operator’s community-specific, comprehensive, strategic energy conservation action plan to save energy and cost ensuring the foundation for achieving an increase in net operating income and asset value. Energy management plans also help identify ongoing ways to significantly reduce energy consumption from energy using systems and components, operations and controls, preventive maintenance, and resident behavior.

A building’s life cycle
New construction of multifamily buildings provides ongoing energy saving opportunities from the beginning. Such buildings may be designed and built to earn the ENERGY STAR or other green building designations.

Energy efficiency elements are incorporated into the design and verified throughout construction to meet high-performance standards. Studies demonstrate that such buildings use fewer resources, have a smaller environmental footprint, and provide people with a better atmosphere. High-efficiency buildings tend to have higher occupancy rates, command higher rents, and retain value, or appreciate faster, than comparable structures in the same market.

An article from Business Week, Nov 12, 2009, entitled, “ENERGY STAR Rating adds $5M per Building,” cites The Berkeley Program on Housing and Urban Policy. The document suggests that tenants and investors are willing to pay more for an energy efficient building, and that rental rates are 3.5 percent higher per square foot with an Energy Star building versus non (6 percent higher effective rents), and sales prices are 16 percent higher.

Another report by Ceres and Mercer in the same article, indicates that, “companies who fail to factor energy efficiency into their real estate investment decisions might be assuming significant risk in the future and could be overlooking substantial opportunities to enhance returns,” and that operations and maintenance practices are critical to realizing ongoing energy savings opportunities.

The process
Energy Assessments are three tiered as identified by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE): Level I Walk-Through Assessment, Level II Energy Survey and Analysis, and Level III Detailed Analysis of Capital Intensive Modifications.

The most common level for potential savings, while balancing initial capital expenditures, is Level II. This audit assesses the potential energy savings and initial cost of said strategies through the building survey, energy analysis, and selected system performance testing. It breaks down how energy is used in the building, as well as a broader range of savings options, including simple capital investments.

Energy audits include utility data analysis, on-site inspections, consumption monitoring, energy modeling and energy conservation improvement planning.
Anatomy of an energy assessment; the focus of the audit: The first step of the audit comprises data collection and information gathering interviews. The information typically requested includes: utility consumption data (electric, gas/fuel, water, waste); building drawings (as-built); operation and maintenance manuals for large energy and water systems and equipment.

Step two encompasses site visits for further data collection on the current energy consumption and characteristics of: lighting, HVAC systems, water heating, pool/spa, building envelope, large energy and water using systems and equipment; operations and maintenance behavior and usage patterns; meters and key consumption data collection points.

Infrared thermal imaging and selected performance testing may be used. Site assessment is critical to getting a complete picture of the property’s true energy use due to the dynamic interaction of building components and systems, operations and maintenance procedures, and end user/occupant behavior.

The final step in creating an Energy Management Plan incorporates thermal energy modeling and simulation of the property for dynamic analysis and impact of specific energy and water use, including an energy end use analysis. A baseline scenario is then created, along with a model building, against selected energy conservation measures that can be applied in order to obtain the maximum energy performance.
The final report includes: energy conservation measures (ECM) with expected savings outcomes; financial savings of each ECM and relative contribution to financial performance goals, Net Operating Income advantage of the property including amount of investment, rate of return and life cycle costs; rebate procurement for any investments or work completed.

The report will include specific recommendations for: lighting retrofits; HVAC audit and upgrades; controls and control systems; high-efficiency pumps, motors and variable drives, if applicable; water conservation measures; building envelope thermography; operational changes in processes, if applicable; compressed air systems; steam systems (periodic maintenance, steam trap maintenance and piping insulation), if applicable.

Energy Management Reports can be phased, and according to a continual improvement method. This typically includes implementing no- and low-cost energy efficiency immediately, and then using those savings to help pay for larger investments. The ideal is to fully optimize efficiencies and eventually incorporate renewable energy sources into the community portfolio of assets.

The result
An Energy Management Plan will provide specific actions to achieve cost and energy savings. The financial analysis of the recommended energy conservation measures provide estimated costs associated with achieving the performance target and projected savings. Financial details can include possible sources of funding, rebates, and tax credits/deductions.

Studies support that an investment in energy efficiency on a property can be a solid investment, with a discernible return for your property. A 2008 Vanguard Group study determined that investing in energy efficiency in your multifamily operation has the highest return, and lowest risk, compared to most investment alternatives.

Other facts to consider: Energy efficient improvements save energy throughout the product’s useful lifetime. The long life of modern energy efficient equipment typically results in savings that are many times the investment cost. It is not uncommon to see Savings to Investment Ratio’s of 20+.

Many low cost energy efficiency improvements, like increased insulation or energy- saving occupant behavior, result in immediate energy savings and have almost infinite lifetimes.

The return on energy efficiency increases as the price of energy escalates.

Market differentiation
Not only can multifamily communities emphasize green in their marketing, they can tout low utility bills to the prospective renter, a real differentiator.

Another cutting-edge trend for builders of new construction is to publish an “MPG” (miles per gallon) label that provides (with all necessary disclaimers) an estimated monthly utility cost for each type of residence so consumers can have a realistic idea of the bill amount before they commit. This information can quantitatively show a score on how your apartments compare against various standards, and can be an effective sales tool.

On-site energy use assessment is only the first step in the correction of energy waste. Create long-term value with the creation of an energy team and energy policy. Consider including resident education and incentive programs, combined with a long-term program of costs and consumption monitoring and benchmarking, and a commitment to the implementation of the Energy Management Plan of energy conservation measures as the financial plan permits.

In light of growing energy use mandates and expanding regulation to achieve energy efficiency, consider the impact on your multifamily operation and the results of an energy assessment: consumption and cost savings, pass through value to your residents, and marketing and business recognition which promotes good-will.


71 Responses to The next big thing: Community Energy Assessments

  1. AJ says:

    I’m having difficulty finding contractors nationally to do energy audits for multi-family projects… Any suggestions or references?

  2. Luigi Fulk says:

    I simply want to tell you that I’m all new to blogs and definitely savored you’re web-site. Most likely I’m want to bookmark your site . You definitely have tremendous writings. Thanks a bunch for revealing your webpage.

  3. It’s in point of fact a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m happy that you simply shared this useful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  4. game keys says:

    Woah this weblog is wonderful i really like studying your articles. Keep up the good work! You recognize, a lot of people are looking round for this info, you could help them greatly.

  5. groffel says:

    I’m now not sure where you’re getting your information, however great topic. I must spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for great info I used to be searching for this information for my mission.

  6. URL says:

    Thank you for sharing with us, I believe this site truly stands out : D. 937445

  7. Jake Ruston says:

    cleaning supplies ought to have earth friendly organic ingredients so that they do not harm the environment 585157

  8. I genuinely enjoy searching by means of on this internet web site , it holds superb articles . 78663

  9. Thank you for your very good information and feedback from you. san jose car dealers 943300

  10. our website says:

    Some genuinely marvellous function on behalf with the owner of this internet internet site, utterly outstanding content material. 737963

  11. Hi there! Nice post! Please do inform us when we could see a follow up! 900594

  12. So I have wondered in a very unique page good stuff you have here

  13. I just added this webpage to my feed reader, wonderful stuff. Cannot get enough! 886111

  14. bless you with regard to the particular blog post ive really been searching regarding this kind of information on the web for sum time right now as a result cheers 539883

  15. Have read a couple of of the articles on your web site now, and I truly like your style of blogging. I added it to my favorites blog web site list and will probably be checking back soon. 668303

  16. I loved this says:

    Superb weblog here! Also your web site loads up really quickly! What host are you making use of? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my web site loaded up as quickly as yours lol xrumer 738887

  17. But wanna say that this really is invaluable , Thanks for taking your time to write this. 755722

  18. online loans says:

    Hey mate, .This was an excellent post for such a hard subject to talk about. I look forward to seeing many more excellent posts like this one. Thanks 837239

  19. Yay google is my king aided me to locate this excellent site ! . 472297

  20. squidoo.com says:

    Cool post thanks! We think your articles are fantastic and hope much more soon. We adore anything to do with word games/word play. 721130

  21. link says:

    Spot lets start function on this write-up, I truly believe this wonderful web site requirements significantly a lot more consideration. I

  22. great site says:

    As I web website possessor I believe the content matter here is rattling great , appreciate it for your efforts. You need to keep it up forever! Great Luck. 252077

  23. link says:

    You produced various excellent points there. I did a search on the subject and located a lot of people will have exactly the same opinion along with your weblog. 615923

  24. Hi. Thank you for generating this website . I m working on betting online niche and have discovered this website utilizing search on bing . Will probably be certain to look much more of your content . Gracias , see ya. :S 727915

  25. Nice post. I learn something a lot more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content material from other writers

  26. A genuinely exciting examine, I could possibly not concur entirely, but you do make some genuinely legitimate points. 82322

  27. A genuinely exciting examine, I could possibly not concur entirely, but you do make some genuinely legitimate points. 885458

  28. I like this site very much so much superb info . 829284

  29. related site says:

    Woh I like your posts , saved to fav! . 466635

  30. that site says:

    one of the greatest system I know, thank you extremely a lot . 543935

  31. I got what you intend, saved it to my bookmarks , really decent internet web site . 776498

  32. More Help says:

    An intriguing discussion will probably be worth comment.

  33. bra says:

    I gotta favorite this internet web site it seems really beneficial . 528940

  34. I discovered your weblog internet site on google and appearance some of your early posts. Maintain up the exceptional operate. I basically extra the RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Seeking for forward to reading far more on your part later on!

  35. that site says:

    I really glad to locate this web site on bing, just what I was seeking for : D as properly saved to favorites . 736212

  36. A quite exciting go by way of, I could not agree completely, but you do make some genuinely legitimate factors. 164099

  37. Typically I do not read post on blogs, nonetheless I would like to say that this write-up really forced me to have a look at and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, quite excellent post. 358230

  38. I like this site very much, Its a really nice situation to read and get info . 342562

  39. I dugg some of you post as I thought they were handy quite valuable 543441

  40. SEO says:

    Aw, this really is an extremely good post. In thought I would like to put in spot writing like this moreover – spending time and actual effort to create a very good article

  41. simo says:

    I must test with you here. Which is not one thing I normally do! I enjoy studying a submit that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment! 609951

  42. Skulpturen says:

    hi, your website is really good. I truly do appreciate your give good results 422148

  43. Fairly uncommon. Is likely to appreciate it for individuals who consist of community forums or anything, internet website theme . a tones way for the client to communicate. Outstanding job.. 550705

  44. Source says:

    Thanks for an additional informative post. Where else could anyone get that kind of info in such a simple to comprehend way of presentation. 817763

  45. next page says:

    Outstanding post, I believe weblog owners need to larn a whole lot from this site its rattling user friendly . 974155

  46. Bonuses says:

    Aw, this became an extremely good post. In thought I would like to set up writing like that in addition – taking time and actual effort to create a fantastic article

  47. Aw, i thought this was an really very good post. In notion I would like to invest writing in this way moreover – taking time and actual effort to manufacture a quite very good article

  48. This really is a excellent common sense write-up. Really beneficial to 1 who is just locating the resouces about this part. It will undoubtedly aid educate me. 472368

  49. Eidiseis says:

    Sweet site , super pattern , rattling clean and use friendly . 623936

  50. More hints says:

    Really fascinating information !Perfect just what I was looking for! 982015

  51. I believe this internet site contains some quite amazing data for every person : D. 182357

  52. Read more on that great Post, I linked to you Thank you. 749556

  53. I like this post, enjoyed this, regards for posting

  54. Generally I do not learn from articles on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up pressured me to check it out! Your writing style amazed me. Thanks, very great post.

  55. schützen says:

    This kind of publishing appears to get a lot of visitors. It provides a great unique twist upon the issues. I guess having something traditional or perhaps substantial to give info on is the central aspect.

  56. This is a great web page, could you be interested in doing an interview about just how you designed it? If so e-mail me! 311701

  57. You got a really superb site, Glad I noticed it by means of yahoo. 584512

  58. ghdflghkdfs says:

    Very good article! We are linking to this great content on our website. Keep up the great writing.

  59. love this says:

    Not what I was hunting for but wonderful anyway! Nice one!

  60. Good day very nice site!! Man .. Excellent .. Superb .. I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds also?I am glad to search out so much helpful information right here in the post, we need work out more techniques on this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  61. I have been exploring for any high-quality articles or blog posts on this kind. Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this site. Studying this information – So I’m glad to express that I’ve a the feeling that I came upon exactly what I needed. I seach a lot – certainly will make sure to not put you out of my mind. I will; give this web site a look regularly.

  62. I have fun with, cause I found exactly what I was having a look for. You have ended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

  63. Wow, superb blog format! How long have you ever been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The entire look of your website is wonderful, let alone the content!

  64. Thanks , I have recently been looking for information about this topic for a long time and yours is the greatest I’ve discovered till now. But, what about the conclusion? Are you sure concerning the source?

  65. payday loans says:

    I saw two other comparable posts although yours was that the most
    beneficial so a large amount

  66. Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I to find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot. I am hoping to provide something back and help others such as you helped me.

  67. I relish, result in I found just what I used to be looking for. You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

  68. Paulette Lemma says:

    Useful information, thanks for sharing them in this article.

  69. Mary Kriete says:

    post and also the rest of the website is also really good.

  70. Issac Maez says:

    I simply want to tell you that I am just beginner to weblog and absolutely enjoyed your web-site. Likely I’m planning to bookmark your site . You surely come with awesome posts. Cheers for sharing with us your web page.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Please enter the CAPTCHA text