New ENERGY STAR report Oct22

New ENERGY STAR report...

An ongoing series of research reports from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) details information from the hundreds of thousands of buildings who use ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager to track energy usage. The latest report focuses on renewable energy and trends in energy metering and efficiency tracking. Onsite renewable energy systems The report studies data from over 260,000 properties, determining that less than 1% (2,447 properties) are currently generating onsite renewable energy. However, even with this low total, the use of onsite renewables has increased ten-fold in the last decade. Among the most common property types who do generate renewable energy are retail stores, K-12 schools and offices. Schools and worship facilities account for the largest number as a percentage of their total properties, still only representing 2.4% each. By comparison, only half a percent of multifamily housing properties have implemented renewable systems. Where are these systems most commonly found? According to the study, California leads the way by a wide margin with nearly 1,000 properties. That number represents more than the next 10 highest states combined. Because the source energy conversion factor is lower for onsite renewable energy, these properties have higher ENERGY STAR scores by a significant margin compared to all properties (74 to 59). Data also shows that 55% of these buildings meet less than a quarter of their electrical consumption from onsite renewables. Metering challenges and considerations There are three primary types of meters that customers use, determined by local utility company standards and building electrical systems. The report dives into the types of meters, what information they do or do not provide and how this impacts energy benchmarking and efficiency goals. Net meters spin forward or backward showing net consumption of power, but do not tell you what was...

Water Wins Oct13

Water Wins

The cost of water can be deceptively low — it doesn’t include the energy expenses of pumping and heating the water. When you evaluate water and energy efficiency together, you’re in a better position to maximize resource and cost savings. Multifamily companies can get some quick wins with minimal effort and no (or low) capital expenditure. All you need to do is make some changes to operations and maintenance practices along with minor retrofits or replacements as needed. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense program recently shared strategies to save energy and water in the webinar “Reducing Costs with Quick Water Wins.” WaterSense is a voluntary program launched by the EPA in 2006 that provides a simple way to identify water-efficient products, programs and practices. In the webinar, the EPA’s Tara O’Hare highlighted the connection between water and energy, often referred to as the energy-water nexus, since every gallon of water has an energy footprint for pumping, moving, heating and treating water. To keep costs low, WaterSense offers the following tips: Review all bills for accuracy Check facility rate class and water meter size on bills Work with your local utility to correct any problems Identify leaks and waste O’Hare said that energy and water leaks linked to continuously running water comprise approximately six percent of water use and that potential financial losses from water such as a drip irrigation malfunction or an unattended water hose at night can amount to $4,300 or $16,000 per year, respectively. How can you make sure this doesn’t happen at your property? Conduct a walk-through to identify leaks (look for puddles and drips) and ask for the vigilance of employees and tenants to help identify leak and waste indicators as soon as they occur. Follow best practices You’ve...

ENERGY STAR Awards Oct09

ENERGY STAR Awards

In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded Yardi one of 191 ENERGY STAR® Awards for 2020 for national leadership in creating cost-saving energy efficient solutions. The company earned its second consecutive ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award, EPA’s highest level of recognition, for helping clients benchmark energy and water usage, widely promoting ENERGY STAR resources and earning ENERGY STAR certification for its corporate headquarters. And what did the other 190 award winners achieve? Their initiatives show that organizations in every sector of the economy – whether a real estate services leader, industry trade association, toothpaste manufacturer, baked goods pacesetter, top-tier university, venerable automobile manufacturer or aerospace behemoth – can find ways to protect the environment and save energy. Here’s a sampling of the most recent ENERGY STAR Award winners: Global commercial real estate services provider Cushman & Wakefield gave its tenants more than 20 presentations on implementing energy efficient practices and using ENERGY STAR-certified equipment. The company also trained vendors, brokers and building contractors in energy management goals and in using ENERGY STAR as a market differentiator. Cushman & Wakefield achieved ENERGY STAR certification for 130 buildings in 2019. BOMA International, a trade association for commercial real estate professionals, completed Year 2 of its W2 Challenge, an initiative to benchmark water use and waste output that was built with the support of a grant from Yardi. The organization also continued its ENERGY STAR-related education and recognition programs in 2019 and prominently featured ENERGY STAR in its videos, industry conferences, magazine, e-newsletters, webinars and social media. Bimbo Bakeries USA, whose brands include Thomas’, Sara Lee, Arnold and Entenmann’s, reduced energy use by 2.3% from the previous year and became the first major baking company to purchase renewable energy for 100% of its electricity...

Power Plays Oct07

Power Plays

While energy efficiency is important every day of the year in any economy, 2020 is presenting unique challenges along with big opportunities for companies and individuals alike and now is a great time for everyone to take control of energy use and utility costs. Using energy efficiently is the simplest way to lower utility bills, improve air quality and reduce environmental impact as part of a larger concerted effort. Driven by the mission to save money, cut pollution and create jobs, Energy Efficiency Day on October 7, 2020, is a collaboration of dozens of energy efficiency advocacy groups around the U.S., including the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Advanced Energy Economy, Alliance to Save Energy, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Regional Energy Efficiency Organizations and many others. As we come together for the fifth annual Energy Efficiency Day, the event website offers some great tips to deal with pandemic-related utility costs now and through the summer. A costly lockdown While working remotely and spending more time at home is helping to stop the spread of COVID-19, it’s not helping most people’s wallets. For areas in a home that need improvement to increase energy efficiency, workers usually need inside access. During a pandemic, that kind of exposure carries serious safety concerns. If you’re not ready to let utility pros into your home, what can you do? Consider a virtual energy audit. Check with your local utility companies to find out if they offer this convenience in your area. There are also some things you can do yourself to increase energy efficiency and stop the waste. Following are a few highlights and takeaways from the article Pandemic Hurts Efficiency Jobs But You Can Still Make Energy-Saving Upgrades. Seal the gaps Check around windows and doors as well as mail slots, electrical outlets and window-mounted AC units. Wherever you find a crack or gap, seal it with caulk or weather stripping. Replace filters Keeping your furnace and air conditioner filter clean will ensure they aren’t working harder than they need to — which saves you money, lowers emissions and extends the life of your equipment. Lighten up your bills Switch your bulbs to LEDs, which use up to 90% less energy to deliver the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs — and they last up to 25 times longer. Save water With a high efficiency showerhead, you can save more the 2,000 gallons of water per year, most of which is hot water, so you also get the savings on heating. While you’re at it, install an aerator in your kitchen sink — a pressure compensating model ensures plenty of flow power while it reduces water use. Want to learn more? Get the scoop on ways to save on your next energy bill for tips including ENERGY STAR® appliances and how you can take part in Energy Efficiency Day. For property managers and owners looking for ways to gain control over energy consumption and reduce costs, join a free webinar on energy solutions brought to you by Yardi, named an ENERGY STAR Partner of the...

Pandemic-Inspired Sep29

Pandemic-Inspired

“To effect change, there must be a stimulation of a magnitude that means companies cannot do anything but make bold decisions to survive. COVID-19 is that magnitude.” — Stuart Carlaw, chief research officer for technology analysis firm ABI Research Amsterdam-based consumer trend firms TrendWatching and Business of Purpose created COVID Innovations to track technology innovations arising from the pandemic. Here’s a summary of some of the projects listed on the site. Japanese start-up Donut Robotics has devised a smart mask called C-Mask. It can be worn over fabric-based masks and connects to an app via Bluetooth, enabling it to transcribe speech to text messages that are sent via the user’s smartphone. It can also translate from Japanese into eight other languages. After debuting C-Mask in Japan in September, Donut Robotics is eyeing the U.S., Europe and China as potential markets. Meanwhile, Detroit-based Redcliffe Medical is marketing its own mask design. LEAF is a transparent device composed of medical-grade silicone that promotes safety while keeping the wearer’s identity, lip movements and facial expressions visible. It’s the first FDA-registered mask with N99-standard air filtering abilities and includes an antifogging feature. Can ultraviolet light provide a line of defense against the coronavirus in warehouses, schools, restaurants, supermarkets, offices and other venues? MIT thinks so and created a robot designed to disinfect spaces by emitting UV light. It’s already been used successfully at the Greater Boston Food Bank. A 3D camera helps the device navigate around obstacles while a 2D device measures distances by illuminating targets with light. Another robot, StrikeForce, comes from XENEX Disinfection Systems in San Antonio, which claims its invention can destroy the novel coronavirus in 2 minutes. The company’s LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots (a trademarked name) uses a xenon lamp to generate bursts of high intensity ultraviolet light. Restaurants, car dealerships, hotels, office buildings and gyms are among the potential candidates for StrikeForce, which is available on a limited basis in Texas, according to COVID Innovations in June. India’s TechMax hopes to ease workers’ transition back to multi-story office environments with its Sparshless solution, which allows touchless elevator unit operations. Summoning the elevator is as simple as placing your hand near a reader. Once inside, just point your finger at a button from about a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch away. Many people have stayed true to their favorite eateries with pick-up and take-out orders. Is it possible to create a similarly contactless dine-in experience? Pasadena, Calif.-based FreshBytes is one tech firm that thinks so. In June, the online ordering system provider, which claims to be the only company that allows restaurants to update their dine-in menus directly from a mobile phone, announced a system that lets customers scan a QR device to view the menu, order and pay directly from a mobile device, with the guest order automatically printed in the kitchen. There’s no exchange of pens, paper or payment cards, and guest turnover is faster. Another California enterprise technology platform provider, Presto, says its free Contactless Dining Kit received orders from more than 5,000 restaurants in five continents within two weeks of its launch in late May. And in Europe, British engineering firm Arup designed modular “parklets,” outdoor seating areas made from hardwood and screened from each other by plants and acrylic glass that let restaurant patrons enjoy onsite dining while maintaining social distances. They’re part of a “Liverpool Without Walls” project designed to help that city’s restaurants reopen. The first parklet was opened in July. Microsoft responded to spiraling global unemployment with a skills initiative designed to bring digital skill learning opportunities to 25 million people by the end of the year. The software giant will leverage its LinkedIn and GitHub resources to identify in-demand jobs and the skills needed for them, provide free access to learning content, and deliver low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools. Yardi responded to the pandemic with its own set of dedicated...

ARPA-E Update Sep10

ARPA-E Update

Earlier this year, The Balance Sheet summarized some energy technology projects sponsored by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which carries out R&D for the U.S. Department of Energy. Here are a few more active projects. Warm and cool on demand Syracuse University seeks to improve comfort for office building occupants with a near-range micro-environmental control system. The system would store the cooling produced by the compression system at night and release it as a cool breeze of air to make occupants more comfortable during the day. And when heating is needed, the system would draw heat from its phase-change material and deliver warm air. Syracuse claims that the control system, combined with an expanded set-point range, could save more than 15% of the energy used for heating and cooling while maintaining occupant comfort. “If successful, [the control system] could increase energy efficiency, reduce emissions produced by powering traditional HVAC systems, and enable more sustainable heating and cooling architectures for energy-efficient building design.” Building breath test Specialized sensors tip off a building’s HVAC system that carbon dioxide-exhaling people are around and need ventilation. A Purdue University team is working on small-scale sensing systems that would use mass and electrochemical sensors to detect the presence of CO2. The Purdue team believes that combining two unique sensing technologies into a single package for monitoring CO2 levels could reduce building energy use by nearly 30% without sacrificing occupant comfort. Chopping home energy costs Meanwhile, researchers at Texas A&M University are looking at new detection solutions for residences, specifically enhanced pyroelectric infrared sensors that track occupancy and activity. Whereas such detection sensors traditionally can only notice people in motion, Texas A&M’s proposed system would identify non-moving heat sources. Quantitative information on movement would come from an “optical chopper”...

Improving Energy Efficiency Aug26

Improving Energy Efficiency

Class A commercial buildings get all the fanfare. They have the nicest amenities, the best views and, of course, the highest rent. But let’s not overlook the value that class B and C spaces bring to communities and business owners. Often located in suburban areas or lacking glamour that high rises provide, these buildings still possess many advantages and simply don’t get the same type of recognition. A recent ENERGY STAR® report stated that 94% of all U.S. commercial buildings were properties under 50,000 square feet. Because class B and C buildings significantly outnumber class A, they can lead the way in contributing to a cleaner environment, improved leasing practices and cost savings techniques. At the recent 2020 Virtual BOMA Conference, Marta Schantz, senior vice president of Urban Land Institute (ULI), explained three major challenges for class B and C owners in regard to energy efficiency: Information constraints – Stakeholders are so consumed with day to day operations that energy efficiency gets put on the backburner. Lean on your property manager for data and best practices and educate yourself about building benchmarks to understand what’s working or not. Resource constraints – These buildings don’t have the budget or staff size of class As, so they often lack someone specifically assigned to energy projects, or a third party hired to oversee this aspect of the portfolio. Funding constraints – B and C class buildings typically don’t have capital planning funds to invest in larger retrofits with up-front costs. Owners also may not be able to take on long-term debt. How can a building owner overcome some of these challenges? Primarily, there are financing options available so that B and C owners can reach long term savings goals: cost recovery in terms of lease forms, utility on-bill financing, commercial property assessed clean energy financing (C-PACE), among others. As Schantz explained, an HVAC retrofit alone may not provide the necessary ROI, but bundled with LED installation or sensor installation, it can provide long-term savings with a relatively short-term payback process. As explained in a 2020 BOMA report, class B and C properties could save 15% on energy costs with basic low- to no-cost initiatives, or even up to 35% with the larger investments detailed above. BOMA’s research has found that sustainability initiatives can reduce operating expenses for class B and C buildings between $0.26 and $0.61 per square foot and increase the net operating income for these properties between 2.4% and 5.6% per year. What are some of the simplest energy solutions to implement? According to Joey Cathcart, associate at the Rocky Mountain Institute, here are some of the best low-cost, quick payback measures for energy savings across property type: LED lighting: LEDs use significantly less energy and last much longer than incandescent lighting. Controls/Sensors: Install LED’s in high-use areas and controls or sensors in low-use areas like closets and restrooms. Programmable thermostats: Simply program your temperature setting in times of low or no occupancy. Energy audits: Establish a baseline and identify where improvements can be made. Local authorities often provide grants for these projects. Window filming or shading: Reduce demands on HVAC and reduce solar radiation with tinting or shading. Lease provisions and green leases help increase investor, owner and tenant interest. “They help to overcome split incentives, improve transparency and indicate a commitment to sustainability,” Cathcart said. He detailed three low cost components to drive the highest lease impact: Integrate new building expectations by implementing low or no cost strategies into standard operating procedures. Integrate language into leasing that includes periodic energy audits. Tenants see this as a commitment to sustainability. Document operating best practices to optimize performance in common areas and tenant spaces. “The best time to integrate provisions is either during tenant renewal or at the beginning of a new tenant lease,” Cathcart explained. Eugenia Gregorio, founder and principal at Gregorio Sustainability, presented a case study of The Tower Companies...

Experts Assess Jul15

Experts Assess

Along with tracking the momentous public health and economic implications of COVID-19, renewable energy advocates are keeping a close eye on how the pandemic is affecting the Earth’s environmental well-being. The International Energy Agency, which advocates for sustainable energy policies, reported that average global road transport activity fell by 50% of the 2019 level in the first quarter of 2020, while aviation activity declined 60%, spurring an unprecedented decline in world oil demand. The U.S. saw a 50% reduction in the use of jet fuel and 30% less gasoline consumed; meanwhile, natural gas use in commercial and residential buildings dropped by almost 20% from late March to early June of this year, according to a study of COVID-19’s effects on energy and the environment by researchers from the MIT Sloan School of Management, Yale University and Northwestern University. Reductions spark optimism “Overall, these reductions reflect a 15% total reduction in daily CO2 emissions, which is the largest annual percentage decline for the U.S. in recorded history,” says MIT Sloan professor Christopher Knittel, one of the researchers. The recent drop in consumption and emissions offers a glimpse of a cleaner future – if the effort is sustained after the crisis abates. In the wake of COVID-19, “it is essential that we build back better. We need to create a more resilient and sustainable clean energy system in order to reduce the risk of facing the catastrophic crises that climate change could bring,” says Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, writing for the World Economic Forum. That means prioritizing structural changes that “make a real difference for the energy transition in the longer term” rather than jumping on “the bandwagon to push the green agenda in short-term relief packages,” say researchers from ETH Zurich’s...

Energy Benchmarking Jul04

Energy Benchmarking

When you invest in your energy strategy, the rewards are proportionate. Simply put, the upgrades can pay for themselves. You just have to get the ball rolling first. That was just one of the key takeaways from our recent webinar on energy efficiency with McKnight’s Senior Living. Randy Moss of Yardi led the discussion on ENERGY STAR benchmarking and best practices for providers, and he was joined by Christopher Wright from Merrill Gardens, who shared his company’s own experience with tracking energy usage and reducing spend. Merrill Gardens’ road to energy success Starting in 2016, Merrill Gardens was required to record and report their energy usage by the city of Seattle. And at first, everything was done manually. Staff were pulling data from paper bills and accounting systems to upload into ENERGY STAR for benchmarking. Eventually, the city’s utility provider enabled automated data sharing, which simplified the entire process. The state of California soon followed with regulatory requirements, and seeing the writing on the wall, Merrill Gardens began rolling out benchmarking at all of their communities nationwide. Like in Seattle, many utilities needed manual data entry at first, but nowadays, the majority allow automated data transfer. By late 2019, Merrill Gardens had a year’s worth of data, which gave them great visibility into their buildings’ usage compared to one another. “Based on those sorts of trends, we already had the ability to identify buildings to focus special attention on for CapEx and operation improvements,” said Wright. Unfortunately, the pandemic brought new hurdles, but that only sharpened their focus. “In early 2020, like everyone else, we discovered our resources were suddenly and unexpectedly limited, while at the same time, savings and operational efficiencies were even more important,” said Wright. “Partnering with Yardi over the last...

Energy Matters May27

Energy Matters

As the COVID-19 crisis drives up labor and equipment costs in senior living, providers are looking for sure-fire ways to save without sacrificing on care or quality. One avenue that few providers have pursued is energy management. Not considered a significant challenge by many, utility spend actually ranks as the third highest expense, after payroll and food. It’s also much easier to tackle from a cost-control perspective than you might think. Yes, swapping in LED light bulbs is one way to shrink the energy bill, but the real advantages (and savings) start with just knowing how much energy is used. By benchmarking your communities’ energy consumption, and you open up many possibilities to conserve. There’s more value in a cohesive energy strategy than just saving money, too. Many residents appreciate and look for a building that follows sustainable practices. In fact, the baby boomers are more eco-conscious than their Gen X and millennial counterparts are. Those over 65 are three times more likely to say they live in environmentally friendly ways “all the time.” If that weren’t reason enough to revisit your energy approach, consider that state, county and local jurisdictions are increasingly asking real estate operators — senior housing included — to record and report on their usage. Take Seattle for example. Back in 2013, the city passed a resolution in pursuit of carbon neutrality that requires non-public buildings larger than 10,000 square feet to disclose their utility benchmarking data. For Merrill Gardens, based out of Seattle, that meant they had to quickly roll out centralized utility tracking. So how’d they pull it off? And what benefits have they seen since? Join us on Tuesday, June 16, at 10 a.m. PDT (1 p.m. EDT) for a live webinar with McKnight’s Senior Living to...

What’s Ahead for Energy May06

What’s Ahead for Energy

  The U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy’s statistical and analytical agency, provides annual projections for U.S. and world energy markets over the next 30 years. Highlights from the latest release: Overall U.S. energy consumption will grow more slowly than gross domestic product as energy efficiency continues to increase. Purchased electricity consumption will increase by 0.6% and 0.8% annually in the residential and commercial sectors, respectively, due to increased demand for electricity-using appliances, devices and equipment. In 2019, 44% of residential light bulbs were LEDs, the most efficient light bulb technology available, and 17% of commercial lighting service demand was met by LED bulbs and fixtures. By 2050, these shares will reach 90% and 88%, respectively. Energy-related CO2 emissions decrease initially then rise closer to 2050 as economic growth and increasing energy demand outweigh improvements in efficiency. After initially falling, total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions will grow modestly in the 2030s, driven largely by increases in energy demand in the transportation and industrial sectors. Emissions in 2050 will still be 4% lower than 2019 levels. Increases in fuel economy standards will drive a 19% decrease in U.S. motor gasoline consumption through 2050. The U.S. will continue to export more petroleum and other liquids than it imports as domestic crude oil production continues to increase and domestic consumption of petroleum products decreases. Renewables/biofuels Renewables will be the fastest-growing source of electricity generation due to continuing declines in solar and wind capital costs coupled with federal tax credits and higher state-level targets. Total renewable generation will exceed natural gas-fired generation after 2045. Without distributed generation sources, particularly rooftop solar, electricity consumption in residential and commercial buildings would be 5% and 3% higher, respectively, by 2050. Generation from renewable sources will rise from 18% of total generation in 2018 to 38%. Solar photovoltaic (PV) will contribute the most to the growth in total renewable generation, increasing from 13% in 2018 to 46%. Although onshore wind generation will more than double, its share of renewable generation will go from 37% to 29%. The U.S. will add 117 gigawatts of new wind and solar capacity between 2020 and 2023. Electricity is the fastest-growing energy source in the transportation sector, increasing by an average of 7.4% per year as a result of increased demand for electric light-duty vehicles. While gasoline vehicles will remain the dominant vehicle type through 2050, the combined share of sales from gasoline and flex-fuel vehicles (which use gasoline blended with up to 85% ethanol) declines from 94% in 2019 to 81% because of growth in sales of battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles. The percentage of biofuels (ethanol, biodiesel, renewable diesel, and biobutanol) blended into U.S. gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel will increase from 7.3% in 2019 to 9% in 2040. Commercial and industrial space Total delivered energy consumption in the U.S. buildings sector will grow by 0.2% annually as energy efficiency improvements, increased distributed electricity generation and regional shifts in the population partially offset the impacts of higher growth rates in population, number of households and commercial floor space. Lower costs and energy efficiency incentives will result in efficient LEDs displacing linear fluorescent lighting as the dominant commercial lighting technology by 2030. Commercial PV capacity will increase by an annual average of 3.4%. Residential space S. total delivered residential energy intensity, defined as annual delivered energy use per household, will fall by 17% between 2019 and 2050 as the number of households grows faster than energy use. Factors contributing to this decline include gains in appliance efficiency, onsite electricity generation (e.g., solar photovoltaic), utility energy efficiency rebates, rising residential natural gas prices, lower space heating demand and population shifts to warmer regions. Residential PV capacity will increase by an average of 6.1% per year, accelerated by rising incomes, declining system costs and social influences. Learn how Yardi software can increase energy efficiency...

Gold Diggers Apr24

Gold Diggers

In 2019, hundreds of organizations including real estate firms used Energy Treasure Hunts to reduce energy use by up to 15 percent and they’re hoping for even more participation in 2020. As explained on the ENERGY STAR® website, Energy Treasure Hunt teams walk around facilities looking for quick ways to save energy. Those fast fixes can add up to big savings, which is like finding buried treasure. Companies from various industries participated in the inaugural year’s Energy Treasure Hunt including AMLI Residential, Bozzuto Management, Colgate, Allergan, Kilroy Realty Corporation, Columbia Association, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Nissan. For multifamily and commercial real estate operators, the Energy Treasure Hunt checklist, called a Treasure Map, includes a detailed audit of lighting, building envelopes (inspecting all doors and windows for gaps and damage), equipment and plug loads and HVAC systems. Using energy efficient lighting, improving insulation and managing power usage proved to be a few easy ways to save money, and thousands of dollars in potential annual savings were uncovered. Here are some highlights: Kilroy Realty Corporation found a potential annual savings of $20,300. Top savings opportunities identified: Retrofit the exterior lighting in all parking areas Retrofit lighting in all indoor common areas Conduct retro-commissioning For AMLI Residential, the audit revealed a potential annual savings of $7,800. Top savings opportunities identified: Implement checks to ensure correct set points in vacant and common areas Insulate hot water heater supply piping within the HVAC closets Use power management setting on business center and leasing office computers Bozzuto Management Company discovered a potential savings of $10,190. Top savings opportunities identified: Implement LED retrofits Install lighting controls and sensors Establish thermostat setting standardization While identifying precise dollar amounts in potential savings is exciting, even before an Energy Treasure Hunt most companies realize...

New Solar Mandate Apr09

New Solar Mandate

Sacramento is one of the first cities to renegotiate its path towards sustainable power. Since the inception of California’s rooftop solar mandate, several municipalities have scrambled to accommodate the push towards clean energy. Sacramento may be the first of many cities to take advantage of a loophole in the mandate. Community solar The California Energy Commission approved a proposal from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) that would allow developers to use offsite solar panel installations in some new construction. The community solar option would allow developers to explore more cost-effective options for powering homes off-site. The existing community solar provision applies to shaded apartment buildings and single-family homes. The approved proposal opens the door for developers to choose rooftop solar or SMUD’s community solar for any project in the municipality. Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment explains the implications of the new provision. “There is a really strong precedential value here,” he said. “This is a new regulation that just went into effect, and this community solar piece of it hasn’t really been tested, and so it’s going to set a precedent for years to come for how utilities and real estate developers will respond to this regulation.” New yet weakening regulation? In essence, the new mandate is already accepting exceptions. Rooftop solar advocates fear the broader implications.  Laurie Litman, member of the climate group 350 Sacramento, expressed her apprehensions: “The concern is that if it’s cheaper for developers to not put solar on people’s homes, then they’re going to opt for that choice,” says Litman. “That’s going to undermine the solar homes mandate throughout the state because then other areas and other utilities will ask for that waiver as well.” Secondly,...

Star Power Mar31

Star Power

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, using energy efficiently is one of the fastest and most effective ways to save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs and meet growing energy demand. Yardi has once again been named ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year. The award celebrates companies demonstrating superior leadership, innovation and commitment to environmental protection through energy efficiency and ENERGY STAR. ENERGY STAR provides information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed energy efficiency decisions. Thousands of industrial, commercial, utility, state and local organizations — including more than 40% of the Fortune 500® — rely on their partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to deliver cost-saving energy efficiency solutions. The award acknowledges Yardi’s effort to educate and support clients with benchmarking services and technology solutions across a variety of real estate sectors. In 2019, Yardi helped more than 100 clients benchmark energy in ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® for over 2,300 buildings, leading to a nearly 110 percent increase from the previous year. Yardi helped clients benchmark water in over 2,000 buildings, a 300 percent increase from 2018. In addition, Yardi actively promotes ENERGY STAR benefits, publishing more than 20 articles and providing resources for benchmarking energy performance and energy management such as  webinars, client conferences courses, executive briefings sessions and other activities. “We are very proud of our clients’ continued success in using ENERGY STAR resources to achieve their corporate and community sustainability goals and we look forward to helping them and the industry reap even more ENERGY STAR benefits going forward,” said Anant Yardi, president and founder of Yardi. The company has earned ENERGY STAR certification for its corporate headquarters in Santa Barbara, Calif., and helps its real estate clients measure success and provide visibility into their ENERGY STAR...

Get Current Mar13

Get Current

The U.S. Energy Information Administration distributes information on energy-related trends and milestones. Here’s a sampling of recent postings from the EIA’s Today in Energy news and information resource. Renewables on the rise The EIA projects that electricity generation from renewable sources such as wind and solar will surpass nuclear and coal by 2021 and natural gas in 2045. Most of the growth in renewable electricity generation comes from wind and solar, which account for about half of renewable generation today. These technologies will account for nearly 80% of the renewable total in 2050. New wind capacity is expected to continue at much lower levels after production tax credits expire in the early 2020s. Growth in solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity will continue for both utility-scale and small-scale applications through 2050 because of declining PV costs. In April 2019, U.S. monthly electricity generation from renewable sources exceeded coal-fired generation for the first time. Wind blows by hydro In 2019, annual wind generation exceeded hydroelectric generation as the top renewable source of energy generation in the U.S. for the first time. Wind generation totaled 300 million megawatthours (MWh) in 2019, exceeding hydroelectric generation by 26 million MWh. Energy consumption heats up World energy consumption will grow nearly 50% by 2050, with the growth focused in regions where strong economic growth is driving demand, particularly Asia. The industrial sector, including refining, mining, manufacturing, agriculture and construction, will account for more than half of end-use energy consumption through 2050, by which time global industrial energy consumption will reach about 315 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu). Transportation energy consumption is slated to increase nearly 40% by 2050 and is largely driven by developing countries with non-market economies. Energy consumed in the buildings sector, which includes residential and commercial structures, is...

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...