Revisiting the 1920s Jan10

Revisiting the 1920s

Here’s a look at some energy milestones from the last time a ’20s decade dawned—a period described by Marquette University economics professor Gene Smiley as “the first truly modern decade.” Wind. In 1919, two Danish engineers advanced windmills’ state of the art by designing blades that worked like the wings of an airplane. Their “Agricco” could turn to adjust to the wind flow and automatically rotated to face into the wind. A German-developed windmill capable of producing electricity from wind and the U.S.-bred first wind power company followed in 1920 and 1922, respectively. Wind technology was superseded in the 1930s by power lines capable of transmitting electricity to rural areas. In common with other renewable energy sources, wind experienced a renaissance in the wake of the oil crises of the 1970s. Today, “renewable energy is seeing a boom in growth, with wind energy leading the way” and accounting for nearly 7% of U.S. electricity generation, according to the National Geographic. The World Wind Energy Assn. reports that global capacity for wind turbines reached 600 gigawatts by the end of 2018. There are 57,000 land and offshore wind turbines in the U.S. alone. Geothermal. At The Geysers, some 70 miles north of San Francisco, molten rock lying relatively close to the Earth’s service heats water in overlying permeable rock to very high temperatures. In 1921 an engineer drilled a geothermal well that powered a generator for lighting a local resort. In 1960, a steam-generated plant at The Geysers began generating electricity commercially. The Geysers stands today as the world’s largest commercially productive geothermal field. Its average output in 2017 was 647.7 net megawatts. Geothermal energy—which can be used for heating, cooling and generating electricity—contributes more than 3.7 gigawatts to the national grid, making the U.S....

Energy Pipeline Jan06

Energy Pipeline

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the U.S. Department of Energy’s R&D arm, has provided about $2 billion dollars for more than 800 potentially transformational energy technology projects since 2009. Here’s a sampling of projects currently receiving support from ARPA-E. Fill it up, fast.  The University of Illinois, Chicago, is designing a new high-power converter circuit architecture for charging electric vehicles quickly. “The reduced weight and size of the universal battery supercharger can enable both off-board stationary fast charging systems and [serve] as a portable add-on system for EV customers who require range enhancement and quick charging in 15 minutes,” ARPA-E says. The system’s bidirectional power flow capability enabling vehicle-to-grid dispatching offers another potential benefit. No-pain windows. Massachusetts-based thermal management solutions provider Aspen Aerogels and its partners are working on a cost-effective, silica aerogel-insulated windowpane for retrofitting single-pane windows. Silica aerogels are strong insulators that resist the flow of heat. The team’s design consists of an aerogel sheet sandwiched between two glass panes to make a double glazed pane. It would be manufactured using an innovative supercritical drying method that significantly reduces drying time. The windowpane could be used to replace, at substantially lower cost, single panes in windows whose thickness or weight preclude replacement with common double-pane units. Frozen hope. Massachusetts renewable energy technology provider American Superconductor (AMSC) is developing a freezer that doesn’t rely on harmful, inefficient liquid refrigerant systems and is more energy efficient than conventional systems. The solution uses helium gas as its refrigerant, offering hope for a safe, affordable and environmentally friendly approach to cooling. High-efficiency freezers could be mass-produced cost effectively and without polluting refrigerants. Scrap value. Lexington, Ky.-based advanced materials developer UHV Technologies Inc. is working to apply X-rays to distinguishing between high-value metal alloys found in...

New Energy Regulations Dec16

New Energy Regulations

Yardi recently hosted a series of webinars for property owners in the U.S. and Canada facing the prospect of complying with a raft of energy, water and waste benchmarking requirements. A new statewide ordinance in California, measures in a host of municipalities and the Energy & Water Reporting and Benchmarking Regulations (EWRB) in Ontario, Canada, require measurement and public disclosure of whole building energy and/or water efficiency. All told, 49 mandatory policies to leverage ENERY STAR® plus a like number of voluntary policies requiring commercial and multifamily property owners to gather, assimilate and submit data will be on the books next year. Energy experts Randy Moss, Kimmy Seago, Ashley Nelson, Carson Spraker and Ethan Arbiser used the webinar series to illustrate the process and benefits of ENERGY STAR, the industry benchmarking standard that shows how efficiently a building performs compared to other similar buildings. Challenges often associated with benchmarking include managing multiple vendors and data request processes, compiling multiple street addresses into a whole building, obtaining owner and tenant authorizations, ensuring data quality, and properly setting up data and reporting through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager®. As an ENERGY STAR partner that has benchmarked 320 million square feet within Portfolio Manager, Yardi has energy management software and certified experts that make collecting, assimilating and reporting required information much easier for building owners. Benchmarking steps include setting up properties in Portfolio Manager, requesting whole building utility data from providers, and verifying and submitting the data. The Yardi team also tracks regulation updates and properties’ compliance status. The webinar presenters pointed out that property managers can use information loaded into ENERGY STAR for purposes beyond compliance. These include earning certifications that exempt properties from audits and recommissioning and gaining access to low-cost green financing. Benchmarking can also help attract investors, many of whom factor ENERGY STAR scores into their investment decisions. Data gathered from benchmarking also helps property managers plan and evaluate future energy conservation measures and compete in internal and external energy-saving competitions. Learn what’s ahead in American and Canadian energy regulations and learn how Yardi, which actively manages ENERGY STAR compliance for more than 2,000 commercial and multifamily properties in many jurisdictions, can help you get...

Seasonal Savings Dec15

Seasonal Savings

If sustainability is a part of your branding, the holidays are your time to shine. Did you know that from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, Americans toss about one million extra tons of trash each week? The additional waste is mostly holiday packaging, wrapping, and shipping supplies. Americans are particularly wasteful with energy during the holidays, too. Households in the US consume more energy during the holidays that some countries do in a year. Multifamily properties can set new precedents for the holidays. Below are six tips to make your property more environmentally friendly and cost efficient. By implementing conservation techniques and rewarding resident participation, we can break the tradition of holiday waste. Sustainable Switches, Great and Small Do you have a healthy budget for sustainable upgrades, or are you’re advocating for Mother Earth with your bare hands? Below are a few tips for budgets of any size. Make the Switch to LEDs If you haven’t already made the switch to LED lights, do so. This includes your holiday lighting. According to Eartheasy, the average business can save about $3,700 per year, per 25 bulbs. Each LED bulb last up to 200,000 hours, meaning that you replace bulbs and strings of lights less often. Step Up Recycling After the holidays, host recycling hauls for residents. For example, invite residents to bring their outdated electronics down to a truck near the leasing office. It’s then a single trip to recycle tablets and smart phones for the entire community. (Many electronics store offer recycling services.) You can also invite a tree specialist to the property to clear Christmas trees. Some companies will bring a mulching truck and recycle trees on the spot! Improve Utility Billing Some residents decorate like there is no tomorrow. Others leave town or skip the décor...

Beat the Cold Dec11

Beat the Cold

Those summer tees and shorts are but a memory. With fall here and winter on deck, how do you stay comfortable at home without spiking your utility bills? Here’s a compilation of tips from the U.S. Department of Energy and other sources. Study up. Conduct an energy audit to find out where you can save and invest for long-term energy savings. Don’t miss sunshine. Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home. Close them at night. End the draft. According to energy services marketplace Choose Energy, up to 30% of a home’s heat can escape through low-efficiency windows. Cold air can lead into a home through cracks and gaps in windows and doorways. Covering windows and sliding doors with clear plastic film can cut about 14% from your heating bill. Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that still feel drafty. Seal any gaps with caulk or weather-stripping. Check the equipment. Have your heating system serviced. Replace furnace and heater filters as needed. Air filters should be replaced monthly. Clean the flue vents on wood- and pellet-burning heaters. Reset the temp. When you’re home and awake, set your thermostat as low as possible to remain comfortable. Turn it back 10° to 15° at nighttime and when you’re gone. A smart or programmable thermostat makes this easy. Get a smart ’stat. Almost half of monthly energy costs are controlled by your thermostat, according to Efficiency Vermont, and Choose Energy says a programmable thermostat can cut heating costs by up to 12%. Cut your losses. Close your fireplace damper when not in use to keep warm air from escaping up the chimney. Install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system for the fireplace. Add caulking around the fireplace...

World’s Brightest Nov12

World’s Brightest

The world’s largest single-site solar power plant recently commenced operation. It outpaces the leading solar power farm by a hair’s width and leaves America’s largest in the dust. Sweihan Power Plant vs. The World Japan’s Marubeni Corp Sweihan photovoltaic power plant, located in the United Arab Emirates, took two years to complete. The site contains 3.2 million solar panels that produce 1,177 megawatts of energy. For comparison, the largest solar power plant in the United States is Solar Star in California. It has 1.7 million solar panels that produce 579 megawatts of energy. That’s enough to power about 255,000 homes, reports Solstice, the leading solar power provider in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was the largest of its time when completed in 2015. Learn how the United States is nearing the end of solar ITC programs. Solar Star is, in fact, not among the largest solar farms in the world. India and China dominate the sun-powered energy. Shakti Sthala, Pavagada, Karnataka of India produces a contested 2,000 megawatts. It is followed by Kurnool Ultra Mega Solar Park of India which generates 1,000 megawatts. Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in China generates 850 megawatts. Kamuthi, Tamil Nadu of India offers 648 megawatts of power to nearby communities. Marubeni Corp, JinkoSolar Holding Co., and Abu Dhabi Power Corp. co-own the $870 million Sweihan solar farm. The project required eight international banks to secure funding. The UAE Energy Plan 2050 The project, also called Noor Abu Dhabi, is part of the UAE’s Energy Plan 2050. Introduced in 2017 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the energy plan is designed to produce renewable, nuclear and clean energy sources. The plan invests $163 billion in pursuit of a more sustainable and diverse energy supply including “44 percent clean energy, 38 percent...

Make Energy Efficiency Fun Oct25

Make Energy Efficiency Fun...

Commercial building owners and managers, especially those equipped with the Yardi Pulse Suite, can lead the way in optimizing energy consumption. But with tenants accounting for as much as 80% of the energy used in office buildings, energy efficiency requires nothing less than a full team effort. ENERGY STAR® suggests making the quest for energy efficiency collaborative, stimulating, rewarding and—last but certainly not least—fun for tenants. Advice in the program’s “8 Great Strategies to Engage Tenants on Energy Efficiency” guidebook from 2016 includes: Be transparent and open with timely information. That includes sharing energy efficiency goals, building energy use data and ENERGY STAR scores. Vornado Realty Trust, for example, launched an energy information portal that enables submetered tenants to access their energy usage profile and data. JLL publishes an annual building environmental report while Wells Real Estate displays ENERGY STAR scorecards that report progress toward sustainability goals. Leverage the ENERGY STAR brand, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says is recognized by 80% of Americans. The program’s resources include tip sheets, interactive tools and other guidance for inspiring tenants to provide energy consumption information. Beacon Capital Partners Inc. and Cushman & Wakefield are among the property managers that apply ENERGY STAR branding to its posters and other materials. ENERGY STAR also offers opportunities for positive visibility through certifications, competitions and other recognition. Educate tenants on their energy use and impacts and help them identify opportunities for improvement. Examples among industry leaders include CBRE, which sends letters rich with energy-saving tips; Beacon Capital, which hosts a plug load educational program; and Liberty Property Trust, which created a green guide web portal. Meanwhile, Cushman & Wakefield offers tenants a green office tool kit, Bentall Kennedy distributes a sustainable tenant improvement manual and JLL sponsors a “go...

NYC Climate Law Oct24

NYC Climate Law

New York City’s Local Law 97, part of a package of legislation comprising the Climate Mobilization Act, was enacted in May. It’s designed to drastically reduce carbon emissions by imposing stringent carbon emission limits for most commercial properties over 25,000 square feet. Impacting more than 57,000 buildings and aiming to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2050, the statute stands as “the most ambitious climate legislation for buildings enacted by any city in the world,” according to The Urban Green Council, a New York-based sustainability advocacy group. The law’s emissions calculations consider the total building load, not just base building energy usage. With tenants accounting for well over 50% of usage in many buildings, that means property owners should “carefully vet their business plans and be sure they are planning for this environment, since it represents a significant change for both owners and their tenants,” said James Nelson and Terri Gumula of commercial real estate company Avison Young, writing in Real Estate Weekly. Estimates of what city landlords will spend to comply with Local Law 97 run to $20 billion and up. With the first compliance period starting in 2024, that group is on the clock. Webinar offers resources Yardi energy experts Brian Fridkin and Maria Solobay recently presented a webinar hosted by Commercial Property Executive to give property managers tips on easing the transition to Local Law 97. A representative from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), a public benefit corporation that promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, also spoke about programs already in place in the state. The presenters listed prescriptive conservation measures required by the new law including adjusting temperature set points, repairing heating system leaks, insulating pipes and installing timers on exhaust fans. Additional steps supporting compliance include embedding efficiency requirements in future leases, upgrading lighting and lighting sensors in tenant spaces, and friendly energy-saving competitions. However, Fridkin pointed out, “For many buildings, just completing the required measures won’t be enough to meet the emissions limits in the law.” Owners will also need to invest in optimizing heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, fault detection and diagnostics, and metering equipment. Solar or wind generation installations are other options. “You can have discussions with tenants about upgrading their lighting or installing occupancy sensors in their spaces, which would reduce their monthly energy bill as well as move toward complying with the law. And you can have tenant energy competitions to see who can reduce their emissions the most. You might also work on switching out tenant HVAC units for more efficient ones or tying in a tenant’s HVAC to the building’s system,” Fridkin said. A key first step toward compliance is implementing real-time energy management (RTEM) to collect live and historical building performance data. This data helps building owners optimize the building’s energy consumption (ultimately reducing greenhouse gas emissions) and prove how the property is performing. RTEM systems can help improve ENERGY STAR® scores, a key consideration because the building types covered under Local Law 97 are already required to complete ENERGY STAR benchmarking every year under another law. Learn how Yardi technology and NYSERDA incentives support building managers who seek to leverage RTEM. Yardi is an approved vendor for NYSERDA’s RTEM program and an ENERGY STAR Partner of the...

Energy’s Future Oct23

Energy’s Future

What’s the future of worldwide energy consumption? A recently published study of international energy markets through 2050 offers some clues. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. Department of Energy’s statistical and analytical agency, conducts annual long-term assessments of world energy markets. The EIA characterizes its compilation of current trends and relationships among supply, demand and prices in the future as “a reasonable baseline case to compare with cases that include alternative assumptions about economic drivers, policy changes or other determinants of the energy system.” Here are some projections from International Energy Outlook 2019: Global consumption World energy consumption will grow nearly 50% between 2018 and 2050, with most of this expansion coming from regions where strong economic performance is driving energy consumption. Asia represents the largest and fastest-growing region for energy consumption. The shift of manufacturing centers to Africa and South Asia, especially India, will spur energy consumption. The industrial sector, including mining, manufacturing, agriculture and construction, will account for more than 50% of global end-use energy consumption between 2018 and 2050. Buildings’ share of the world’s delivered energy consumption will increase from about 20% in 2018 to 22% in 2050. Renewable energy Renewables (including hydropower) will be the fastest-growing source of electricity generation until 2050, rising by an average of 3.6% per year. Wind and solar will account for over 70% of total renewables generation by 2050. Electricity generation from wind and solar sources will represent renewable energy sources’ biggest increases until 2050, reaching 6.7 trillion and 8.3 trillion kilowatt-hours (kWh), respectively, as these technologies become more cost competitive and receive support from government policies in many countries. Worldwide renewable energy consumption will increase 3% per year to 2050. Nuclear consumption will increase 1% per year. Hydropower’s share of renewables generation will fall from 62% in 2018 to 28% in 2050 because resource availability in Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries and widespread environmental concerns limit the number of new mid- and large-scale projects. (OECD is a 36-member group of countries with market economies.) Electricity Electricity generation will increase 79% until 2050, with consumption increasing in all end-use sectors. On average, consumption of electricity in more-developed OECD economies and developing non-OECD economies will grow 1% annually until 2050, while non-OECD consumption will grow 2.3% annually. Electricity will remain the main source of marketed energy consumption in the residential sector. Its use will grow by 2.5% per year globally as rising populations and standards of living in non-OECD countries increase demand for appliances and personal equipment. The transportation sector will consume more electricity as more plug-in electric vehicles enter the fleet and as electricity use for rail expands. Petroleum and other liquid fuels will remain the principal transportation fuel, however. Petroleum and liquids As a share of primary energy consumption, petroleum and other liquids will decline from 32% in 2018 to 27% in 2050. On an absolute basis, liquids consumption will increase in the industrial, commercial and transportation sectors and decline in the residential and electric power sectors. Residential natural gas consumption will grow by 0.7% per year, influenced by increasing use of the fuel for heating. Read the full International Energy Outlook 2019 report. Learn how Yardi technology contributes to energy conservation and sustainability...

ENERGY STAR Day

Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, is ENERGY STAR Day, described by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as “a celebration of energy efficiency” and a means to raise awareness of the benefits of favoring products and properties with ENERGY STAR® certification. And there’s a lot to celebrate. On average, ENERGY STAR-certified buildings use 35% less energy than typical buildings nationwide and command a premium of up to 16% for sales prices and rental rates. More than 34,000 buildings have earned certification, which requires an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or higher, meaning that such a building performs better than at least 75% of similar buildings nationwide. All told, ENERGY STAR and its partners have helped save American families and businesses more than $450 billion and over 3.5 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity since 1992 while also achieving broad emissions reductions. Another facet of the ENERGY STAR program has been similarly fruitful for industrial plants, while ENERGY STAR-certified homes, apartments and products are built to an equally high standard of efficiency. Yardi is intimately familiar with ENERGY STAR and its benefits. Property managers use the Yardi Pulse Suite to capture energy data for ENERGY STAR® benchmarking and reporting. The company employs experts who can help clients identify conservation opportunities and comply with ENERGY STAR and other standards. Yardi is also sponsoring a series of webinars this month on new ENERGY STAR compliance requirements taking effect in the U.S. and Canada next year. The EPA, co-manager of ENERGY STAR, has recognized Yardi as an energy efficiency leader. In April 2019, the company earned designation as an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year, the highest level of recognition the agency offers, in the service and product provider category. Check out the EPA’s toolkit for spreading awareness of ENERGY STAR Day through...

Improving Comfort

Your tenant in the eastern wing is chronically cold. You’re fighting an uphill battle for safety as your tenant’s employees bring personal heaters into the space.  In the western wing, however, your tenant’s employees can’t get cool enough. They complain of high energy bills while swearing the humidity will lead to mold problems. Uncomfortable tenants are more than a headache. They are a threat to your bottom line. Thermal comfort can impact your tenants’ desire to renew their leases. Additionally, a commercial property with low thermal comfort may indicate inefficiencies in its climate controls or building envelope. High turnover and an inefficient building will adversely affect your bottom line. Thermal Comfort + Your Bottom Line The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers defines thermal comfort as the condition of mind that expresses satisfaction with the thermal environment. It is subjectively assessed by using the Comfort Scale or Thermal Index, both of which evaluate temperature, humidity, air velocity, and radiant temperature. As comfort is subjective, a commercial building’s thermal comfort ranking will vary from person to person. Health and Safety Executive recognizes an international standard which suggests that a building has “reasonable comfort” when at least 80 percent of its occupants are thermally comfortable. Improving Thermal Comfort in Commercial Properties There are three ways to notably improve tenant comfort and protect your investment: 1. Identify and Fix Leaks Address leaks in the building envelope. Contact a contractor to identify areas where your heating and cooling efforts are defeated by oversights in construction or maintenance. Resealing windows and adding weather stripping to doors, for example, are two quick fixes for drafts. Leakage significantly decreases the energetic efficiency of an HVAC system. As a result, the HVAC system may be working overtime to regulate indoor conditions. Have your units...

Energy Efficiency Day Oct02

Energy Efficiency Day...

If encouragement to “save money; cut carbon; breathe easier” seems more prominent than usual where you live and work, it’s because today is Energy Efficiency Day, and that’s the key message the event’s organizers are promoting. A nationwide alliance of energy efficiency advocacy groups sponsors Energy Efficiency Day to share “tips, tools and stories that promote the multiple benefits of energy efficiency, from lower costs to healthier homes,” as stated in the event’s website. About 450 local governments, universities, organizations, corporations and utilities are hosting an array of activities including expos, energy-saving device installations, free energy assessments and symposia with thought leaders. Organizers of Energy Efficiency Day, an annual occurrence since 2016, encourage people to stage their own events, such as a “treasure hunt” check of home appliance, lighting and insulation efficiency, and to share their experiences from the day (#EEDay2019). Technologies that lower energy bills and make properties more comfortable are part of Energy Efficiency Day’s focus—and have long been a staple of Yardi’s business. The Yardi Pulse Suite, an integrated set of software solutions, supports sustainability efforts by maximizing efficiency across all property types. “October 2 is Energy Efficiency Day. But efficiency is year-round,” says the event’s website, which pretty well summarizes Yardi’s approach as well. Every month last year, for example, the company benchmarked more than 1,700 buildings across 47 client portfolios in 27 compliance jurisdictions in ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®. A grant to the BOMA Water and Waste Challenge helped property owners and managers improve their water and waste management practices. Ongoing leadership, innovation and commitment to environmental protection earned Yardi designation as an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year. The company joined GRESB’s Global Partner program this year as a sustainability consultant and solution provider. Yardi promotes energy management...

Reducing Energy Consumption Sep26

Reducing Energy Consumption

Utility expenses are one of the biggest controllable expenses in commercial buildings. Yet an average commercial building wastes 30% of its energy consumption due to inefficiencies and lack of proper management. This highlights an opportunity to take a more proactive approach on measuring energy consumption and implementing solutions to improve how a commercial building operates. A reduction in energy consumption is good for the bottom line and is great for the environment. It is estimated that a reduction of between 25% and 30% in real estate energy emissions could in turn help the US and other nations hit the Paris Agreement targets within the next 10 years, which would be a remarkable achievement. Yardi has developed a comprehensive energy management platform for commercial and build-to-rent real estate portfolios called Yardi Pulse. We believe having a better understanding of utility and energy consumption is an important ‑ first step in developing strategies to reduce consumption and improve efficiencies in how a building operates. Our energy solutions have been available in the US, for a number of years and are currently being deployed to international markets, including the UK. Yardi solutions have traditionally been focused on servicing the back o­ffice of real estate investors, owners and operators to manage their property portfolios using Voyager – our enterprise resource planning platform. This focus on real estate has allowed us to gain a deep understanding and data set of how buildings are managed, the expenses associated with utilities and the costs associated with running the mechanical and plant operations in a building. Yardi Pulse has been created as a software-driven energy strategy that is comprehensive in terms of functionality, easy to use and provides a short payback period for clients. Yardi Pulse has three core functional modules. Utility Expense Management is crucial to understanding and documenting energy consumption in a building and across a portfolio. By leveraging machine learning to provide automated validations to ensure that utility expenses are correct, late fees, bill errors and over payments can be reduced. Detailed consumption data in turn helps provide valuable portfolio benchmarking. This granular consumption data in turn becomes the starting point to build an effective energy strategy. Energy Intelligence is the second building block, which is fuelled by real-time data being collected through Internet of Things (IoT) real-time metering devices installed in the buildings. This enables visibility to compare usage, savings and spikes between time periods across an entire portfolio to highlight outliers. This data allows clients to make incremental but powerful changes. Energy e­fficiency Energy Automation is the third building block, designed to maximize building performance with energy automation technology that prevents HVAC system problems by proactively detecting faults and providing alerts. This also allows clients to automate their heating and cooling to optimize tenant comfort and minimize wasted HVAC costs. Tackling the energy e­fficiency of a building can be daunting, as it is often difficult to understand where to start or how to calculate the benefit of an investment. We have found that an incremental strategy by focusing on first gaining visibility into consumption and demand can reduce costs by 2% to 5%. Over time, building owners and operators can identify their highest cost/highest ROI assets as candidates for energy automation. This then leads to additional cost savings exceeding 10% to 15%. We expect cost savings to increase, as we further develop artificial intelligence and machine learning engines to analyse larger data sets on consumption as well as other data points that will be collected with the deployment of additional IoT sensors in buildings. The market has also seen an increase in demand from investors and tenants for more energy efficient buildings. From an investor perspective, an energy-efficient building is one of their investment criteria. Not only does an energy-e­fficient building increase the appeal of the investor, but it also tracks higher-value tenants that rank sustainability and energy e­fficiency in their decision...

Sunny Outlook Aug27

Sunny Outlook

Solar power is a burgeoning alternative energy source that accounts for 1.6% of total U.S. electricity generation and encompasses enough installed capacity to power 12.3 million homes. It’s the second-fastest source of new generation on the U.S. power grid, but it’s not flawless. Arrays that capture solar energy don’t work at night or when obscured by cloud cover, atmosphere or seasonality. The United Nations estimates the global population will be 9.6 billion by 2050, so the rush is on to find new ways to generate large quantities of clean energy. For decades, scientists have explored putting solar arrays where night never falls and clouds don’t form and power transmission need not be interrupted by fickle weather or unfavorable orbital tilt. Specifically, in geostationary or low-Earth orbit, where satellites could capture solar energy, convert it into a microwave or a laser and beam it to Earth. Ground-based receivers would then convert the energy into useable electricity and add it to the electric grid. “If solar power is going to be the principal so-called ‘dispatchable’ baseload source of power that replaces today’s fossil-fuel-powered electric-generating stations, inherently you have to have the generating source be available all the time,” environmental scientist Dr. Deanna Conners wrote in 2018. Efforts to put space-based solar power generation into production have been hindered by cost and technology impediments. But recent developments are bringing the concept closer to reality. In 2018, scientists at the California Institute of Technology announced that they created a prototype lightweight tile, the building block of solar arrays capable of harnessing and transmitting solar energy from space. Earlier this year, China announced plans to place the first solar power station in geostationary orbit by 2050. Other countries in Asia and Europe are working on their own projects. A...

Sustainable Fun Aug21

Sustainable Fun

Want to cut costs across your portfolio while improving environmental conditions for future generations? Of course you do. You can achieve both when you turn sustainability initiatives into games that get residents and tenants involved. The basic tools below can help you get started today. Gamification: Undercover Education (and Self-Help) Meetings, lectures, and classes on saving energy rarely alter our habits. Feedback, seeing the results of our actions often in real-time, has proven to help to change habits. That’s where gamification fits into your energy-saving strategy. What is gamification? In short, it’s implementing game design elements in non-game contexts. It’s making something that tends to be unexciting and intangible more exciting and interactive. Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development in the Netherlands published research on the gamification of energy savings. Researchers concluded that solely issuing smart meters in buildings did not result in optimal energy savings. It was also necessary to change residents’ energy usage behavior. Games proved to be an effective way to heighten awareness and alter user habits. Historically, residents and tenants are slow to change comfortable behaviors even if we know that we can save money. That’s because changing our behaviors takes effort, such as closing blinds before we leave the building to minimize radiant heat or using an app to turn off lights and outlets. None of those tasks takes much effort. But any task is yet another thing to do in a world where we already feel too busy! Gamification helps to take the effort out of changing our comfortable behaviors and makes conserving resources more entertaining. Copernicus Institute details the following components for effective gamification of energy savings. What Makes Gamification Successful? Gamification can be simplified for both commercial and multifamily properties. The American Council for an Energy Efficient...

Nearing Zero Aug20

Nearing Zero

The processes and technology needed to start moving to “net zero” buildings—those that produce enough renewable energy to meet their annual energy consumption requirements—are available today. How to make them widely understood, accepted and implemented was the focus of a recent webinar featuring Akshai Rao, Yardi vice president of procure to pay and energy, and other industry experts. ENERGY STAR® estimates that the average commercial building wastes 30% of its energy consumption. Real estate is the fourth largest generator of greenhouse gas emissions; if that industry alone cut its emissions by 30%, the U.S. could hit the Paris Agreement targets, Rao told the webinar audience. This means there are significant monetary as well as societal incentives for achieving net zero. “Because energy is a building’s second largest controllable cost, it can really eat into investor returns. Having a cohesive energy strategy is one of few things the real estate industry can do from an operations perspective that increases portfolio value,” Rao said. Any hope of achieving a net zero building or portfolio, he said, starts with understanding a building’s load factors and prioritizing which buildings to invest in, which is based on benchmarking the portfolio against the industry with ENERGY STAR. ”There’s so much cost and consumption data to be gained just from utility bills. Rather than just approving and paying them, you can achieve portfolio-wide insights and property cost/consumption trends that help identify capital investment that can reduce consumption,” Rao said. Properties can couple this data with real-time metering to visualize the demand profile of a building, which can highlight tactical actions for reducing spend. Once you have data on your portfolio, the next step is to identify properties to invest in for the highest energy savings return. Several solutions on the market...

Energy Automation Jul29

Energy Automation

Dallas-based multifamily community manager Pinnacle sought to reduce utility late fees and increase vacant utility cost recoveries at 170,000 residential units that it manages. “We needed to automate the entire process—payables, receivables, consumption data analysis and reporting that drilled down to a granular level of detail,” said Nicole Ellery, the company’s ancillary performance manager. Doing all this required replacing its cumbersome manual utility consumption tracking and billing with the Yardi Energy Suite. One element of the suite, Yardi Utility Expense Management, receives, validates and completes payments for Pinnacle’s utility bills. Another part, Yardi Utility Billing, monitors and bills residents for their utility consumption, which helps the company recover vacant unit costs, monitor usage, forecast utility revenue and cut waste with consumption alerts. How has the Yardi Energy Suite worked out for Pinnacle? The bottom line, Ellery said on a utility expense management panel at the most recent Yardi Advanced Solutions Conference (YASC), is “lower late fees across the board.” That happened because the comprehensive solution for utility billing, energy management and submeter data administration helps the company “track how properties are performing with line-by-line data down to the individual meter level as opposed to only invoice data.” “When we onboard a new property, we can see red flags such as high consumption on a meter and follow up with an investigation,” Ellery said. “Our property managers and accountants can drill down to each general ledger account and invoice if anything looks off and see what’s going on. We can see gradual increases in consumption and process invoices as soon as they come in.” She added, “We have saved thousands of dollars every year by nearly eliminating late fees. The suite vastly simplified our vacant unit recovery process, so it maximizes income too. We’d be...

Retail Rewards Jul24

Retail Rewards

The sustainability framework that leading retail property owner, operator and developer Macerich operates under calls for eliminating energy waste and nearly eliminating emissions, water waste and landfill impact. Evidence of Macerich’s success in translating these “Innovating to Zero” principles into best practices includes a No. 1 GRESB Benchmark ranking for four years running among North American retailers and a Top 30 onsite generation designation in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based S&P 500 company has generated 16 megawatts of grid relief and saved more than 300,000 KwH annually with solar panel installations and LED retrofits. It’s the only U.S. retail real estate company to earn the highest “Climate A List” ranking from CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), the world’s most comprehensive collection of self-reported environmental data. Another accolade came in the form of a Commercial Real Estate Digital Innovation (“Digie”) Award in the Most Intelligent Building Project category that Macerich received at the Realcomm ׀ IBCon conferences in June. Macerich recently marked another notable milestone: the 10-year anniversary of a multifaceted energy management sustainability program that has reduced the company’s environmental impacts while squeezing every ounce of efficiency from its operations. The company’s plan called for using advanced energy management software to combine internet of things data with additional logic and analytics functionality. The goal was to turn disparate charts, graphs and reports into coherent, actionable intelligence for operations teams and managers across 51 million square feet of real estate in 15 U.S. states. The software central to achieving that vision, the Yardi Pulse Suite, integrated Macerich’s central energy management systems with utility billing, energy data collection and the Yardi Voyager property management and accounting system. The suite enables connection, analysis and display of building information from Macerich’s...

Chic. Cozy. Smart. Jul23

Chic. Cozy. Smart.

Sidewalk Labs, the urban innovation organization of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has plans for a new neighbourhood in Toronto. The 800-acre site, Quayside, will be the first of its kind. The Neighbourhood Hip innovation and practicality combine on the streets of Quayside. “Torontonians want more affordable housing, faster ways to get around the city, safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists, [and] a cleaner and healthier environment,” said Jesse Shapins, Sidewalk Labs’s director of public realm. “That’s what we are aiming to do by creating this new neighbourhood.” To fulfill this vision, the site will be composed of mixed-use developments and 12 mass timber buildings up to 30 stories tall. “If the primary load-bearing structure is made of either solid or engineered wood, it’s a mass-timber building,” says Tsay Jacobs director of the Building Technology Lab at Perkins+Will and a member of the International Code Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings. The recently reimagined building method is a risk, but it bears great promise. Mass Timber + Modular Construction Due to innovations in building technologies, the unique construction style is strong enough to support tall structures with timber frames. It is also non-combustible, a necessity for many existing building codes. Canadian builders lead the industry in mass timber construction. The new Toronto neighbourhood has several experts on hand. In addition to durability and safety, mass timber construction can also be more sustainable. Sidewalk Labs estimates that construction carbon emissions will be 75 to 85 percent less than conventional construction. How? A combination of mass timber construction with modular technologies will allow for a significant portion of the building to take place off site. Modular construction cuts back on street closures, traffic congestion, scaffolding construction, site congestion, and a host of other disruptions and safety hazards. “We can build and manufactured building and have it stacked in a matter of months and have almost none of that disruption,” says Karim Khalifa, Director of Building Innovation with Sidewalk Labs. “By manufacturing, we should be more efficient and be able to drop down the cost to build these buildings.” Modular building also cuts back on the cost of renovations in the future. Modular spaces can be more easily customized as the needs of the resident or tenant change. “I can take a wall panel, make it become unclipped, and a new wall panel will be clipped in. The turnover time now will only be weeks,” says Khalifa. Buildings that permit greater customization may minimize cost construction and urban sprawl. As young families grow into larger families, for example, they may be able to grow in place. Quayside neighbourhoods become fluid, shifting with the needs of the community. “The landlord has the flexibility of taking that unit that might be one bedroom and combining them into family units to keep people on site,” says Leslie Gash, VP Development at Waterfront. Getting Around Getting around will also be more efficient. Quayside plans to connect to light rail for quick transit throughout the metropolitan area. A flexible streetscape is also in the works. Though the plans are not complete, the streetscape will meet Vision Zero guidelines and be suitable for autonomous vehicles. To boost pedestrian transit and cut traffic, covered walkways called “stoas” will help protect walkers from the elements. A floating walkway will connect Quayside with Promontory Park, an anticipated new greenspace. Pedestrians can also access the new Silo Park, which will be the star of the Parliament Slip inlet attraction. Efficiency has been worked into the power infrastructure as well. Grid energy for the buildings will be supported by photovoltaic panels, battery storage, geothermal wells, and sewer heat recovery. The ambitious combination of alternative energies aims to break tradition with neighbourhoods that are dependent upon city utilities. The housing plan breaks barriers, too. Toronto has faced an affordability crisis for years. At least 50 percent of residences will be priced at 40 percent below market rate....

Energy Education Jul14

Energy Education

Yardi didn’t have to venture far recently to share sustainability expertise with an audience eager for innovative energy efficiency ideas. The company provided top-level sponsorship plus an exhibit and speaker for the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC), a forum for research and case studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, just a few miles from its headquarters. The four-day gathering included more than 700 California higher education professionals including sustainability coordinators, construction, energy and environmental managers, engineers and facilities directors along with faculty and students. Experts from Yardi shared how the Yardi Pulse Suite, an integrated set of software solutions, supports sustainability efforts by helping reduce energy costs and consumption across all property types. They provided examples of the company’s success in helping property owners benchmark to ENERGY STAR® and make energy efficiency investments, and shared how Yardi promotes energy efficiency and sustainability through webinars, articles in trade publications, educational sessions at industry conferences and other activities. CHESC attendees learned that Yardi further displayed its sustainability sensibilities by achieving ENERGY STAR certification for its headquarters in 2018 and installing a real-time online dashboard that shows consumption data for each building at the corporate campus. In April 2019, the company’s initiatives earned designation as an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year. “It is our hope that tools like ours will continue to help property owners and managers be more successful with energy initiatives and comply with new mandates like the California 2030 Green Building Goals,” Lexi Beausoleil, marketing campaigns specialist for Yardi energy solutions, told the conference, adding that technology can be a powerful tool for engaging people to “see the impact of their behaviors and empower them to make better choices.” Other presenters at the conference’s opening session included Dominique Hargreaves, deputy...