Energy Innovators Jul05

Energy Innovators

Even as pandemic-driven lockdowns and stay-at-home mandates curtailed energy consumption in 2020, organizations in all types of industries remained focused on impactful conservation initiatives. Here’s a look at some of the companies that joined Yardi in receiving a 2021 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence Award, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy for initiatives that reduce energy consumption and mitigate climate change. BENTALLGREENOAK. Along with achieving ENERGY STAR certification for 81 properties, the Seattle-based global real estate investor continued benchmarking its assets’ sustainability performance against internal best practices and peers. BentallGreenOak also used ENERGY STAR metrics to measure the success of its energy efficiency strategies. FOOD LION INC. The Salisbury, N.C.-based retail grocery store chain expanded its LED lighting retrofit program to 32 stores, saving more than 9.2 billion BTUs annually. It also earned ENERGY STAR certification for 919 stores, which encompass 89% of its portfolio. HEXION INC. The Columbus, Ohio, producer of thermosetting resins, coatings, adhesives and specialty resins executed 52 energy projects that produced $2 million in savings. It also conducted treasure hunts at 23 sites that identified 131 potential projects. The Columbus, Ohio, company’s energy management program has reduced energy intensity by 28% and saved $14 million in costs since 2014. INTERTAPE POLYMERGROUP INC.  The Sarasota, Fla., manufacturer of paper and packaging products achieved a 6.8% reduction in energy intensity over 2019, part of energy savings equivalent to $6.4 million since 2009. The company also participated in several ENERGY STAR certification, Challenge for Industry and Find the Treasure activities. MERCK & CO. INC.  The pharmaceutical and healthcare company issued a letter of intent to purchase 60 MW of solar energy, matching the amount purchased in 2019. The Kenilworth, N.J.-based...

IN2: Fresh, Clean Tech Jun01

IN2: Fresh, Clean Tech...

What would make affordable housing more affordable? The implementation of cost-saving, sustainable features. Unfortunately, clean tech faces an uphill battle with adaptation in the industry. A national incubator aims to change that. Wells Fargo presents a program that promotes innovation in housing by assisting clean tech companies with an accelerated path to market. Three new residential housing technology companies just joined the incubator this spring—heading to a market near you. 3 The challenge with green innovation in affordable housing Innovative tech startups can have the amazing ideas and the promising products, but they struggle to find funding. Unproven technologies are often seen as a risky investment. The real estate industry is notoriously slow at adapting even proven technologies, which makes the challenge twice as formidable for green building startups. The journey to market is formidable for green startups, but not insuperable. Innovation Incubator (IN2) supports the research and development of the most promising startups. As a result, affordable housing builders and developers can feel more confident about investing in new sustainable housing technologies. IN2: the solution that fosters more solutions IN2 is a dreamchild. It unites the funding and industry savvy of the Wells Fargo Foundation with the research specialists and technology of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The program is part of Wells Fargo Foundation’s $1 billion commitment to affordable housing. Startups selected by IN2 receive $250,000 in non-dilutive funding to hone their innovations. They work side-by-side with experts at NREL and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Such collaborations give startups access to cutting edge research and testing. Startups also receive priceless networking opportunities, and their work is amplified throughout the industry.  Since 2014, the program has furnished product validation for 46 companies via NREL or the...

Energy Bulletins Apr29

Energy Bulletins

The following information is courtesy of the Energy Information Administration, a statistical and analytical agency of the U.S. Department of Energy that collects, analyzes and disseminates energy information. Post-COVID consumption lags The U.S. will likely take at least a decade to return to 2019 levels of energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions due to the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and global energy sectors. “The pandemic triggered a historic energy demand shock that led to lower greenhouse gas emissions, decreases in energy production, and sometimes volatile commodity prices in 2020,” says Stephen Nalley, the EIA’s acting administrator. Around the world, global demand for petroleum products in 2020 fell by 9% from the previous year. Just how long it will take production and consumption levels to return to their pre-pandemic levels depends on a range of factors including the pace of economic recovery, advances in technology and government incentives. “It will take a while for the energy sector to get to its new ‘normal,’” according to Nalley. Battery power charging up A significant number of battery energy storage systems will be added in the U.S. between now and 2050, at which time 59 gigawatts (GW) of battery storage will serve the power grid. Falling battery costs, growth in non-dispatchable renewables (such as solar and wind, which can’t be turned on or off at will) and tax credits are the key drivers of the capacity expansion. Wind becomes a force In 2019 and 2020, developers in the U.S. installed more wind power capacity than any other generating technology. Wind turbine capacity additions in 2020 totaled 14.2 GW, surpassing a record that had stood since 2012. The impending phasing out of the full value of the production tax credit spurred investments in this technology. Congress extended...

ARPA-E Projects Apr23

ARPA-E Projects

Buildings account for 72% of the United States’ electricity use and 40% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions each year. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which carries out R&D for the U.S Department of Energy, sponsors initiatives by businesses and academic institutions to improve buildings’ energy efficiency. Here’s a summary of some active ARPA-E projects. Promoting a healthy cold According to ARPA-E, 5% of CO2 emissions come directly from air conditioning, which uses refrigerants that are greenhouse gases. American Superconductor of Ayer, Mass., is developing a freezer that doesn’t rely on harmful refrigerants and would operate more energy-efficiently than conventional systems. American Superconductor proposes to use helium gas as the cooler’s refrigerant, superseding liquid refrigerants that are eventually pumped out to the external environment. The eventual goal is the cost-effective mass production of high-efficiency freezers that do their job without pollution-generating refrigerants. Efficiency in motion A team at Boston University is developing an occupancy sensing system designed to estimate the number of people in commercial spaces and monitor how that number changes over time. The proposed system would generate occupancy estimates using advanced detection algorithms that interpret data streams from sensors and cameras. The occupancy data would enable the building control system to manage the heating, cooling and air flow to maximize building energy efficiency and optimize comfort. This could go a long way in making Boston office space, indeed office space across the world, more efficient. The project could “dramatically reduce the amount of energy needed to effectively heat, cool and ventilate buildings without sacrificing occupant comfort,” ARPA-E says. New pane, new gain Single-pane windows that are present in many buildings don’t insulate as well as double-pane units. Unfortunately, replacing them with newer, more efficient windows isn’t always feasible because of costs, changes...

Shine On

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have honored ENERGY STAR® partners from 39 states for outstanding leadership in reducing energy bills and tackling climate change. This year, Yardi has received the highest honor — the 2021 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Sustained Excellence Award. For the third consecutive year, Yardi has excelled as an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year in its ongoing commitment to help educate and support its clients through energy management software with a built-in dashboard for ENERGY STAR scores and benchmarking using ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®. Ongoing Excellence “ENERGY STAR award-winning partners are showing the world that delivering real climate solutions makes good business sense and promotes job growth,” said Michael S. Regan, EPA administrator. “Many of them have been doing it for years, inspiring all of us who are committed to tackling the climate crisis and leading the way to a clean energy economy.” The 2021 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award acknowledges Yardi’s technology solutions and ongoing philanthropic efforts across a variety of real estate sectors including: Helping more than 140 clients benchmark energy in over 3,500 buildings Benchmarking water in over 3,000 buildings Promoting the importance of ENERGY STAR scores to clients through education, training and visibility Including ENERGY STAR in Yardi’s energy management software dashboard Publishing more than 32 articles on the benefits of benchmarking, energy management and other conservation topics Providing digital courses for over 36,000 attendees from more than 58 countries during its virtual user conferences Again earning ENERGY STAR certification for its Southern California corporate headquarters Akshai Rao, vice president at Yardi, sees the award as a reflection of the company’s clients and their impressive achievements in energy management and conservation. “We’re proud of our clients’ achievements using ENERGY STAR resources to meet their business and sustainability goals. Our benchmarking increased by more than 50% over last year. This is due in part to rapid adoption of ENERGY STAR benchmarking to better understand remote work environment impacts on building energy use during the COVID-19 pandemic. We look forward to helping our clients and the industry gain even more ENERGY STAR benefits moving forward,” said Rao. Your Turn to Shine For a complete list of 2021 winners and more information about ENERGY STAR’s awards program, visit energystar.gov/awardwinners. To learn more about getting support for your company’s energy management and sustainability goals, join a free energy management...

Energy Updates Dec30

Energy Updates

Here’s a roundup of recent reports from the Energy Information Administration, the statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy: Wind power flies high in 2020 Project developers expect more than 23 gigawatts of wind turbine generating capacity to come online in the U.S. in 2020, far more than the previous record of 13.2 GW added in 2012. The impending phase-out of the full value of the U.S. production tax credit at year’s end is leading to more capacity additions than average this year, just as previous tax credit reductions led to significant wind capacity additions in 2012 and 2019. Texas has the most wind turbine capacity among states, with 29.1 GW installed as of August 2020 and another 4 GW expected by the end of the year. Wind’s share of U.S. electricity generation increasing from 7.4% in 2019 to 8.8% in 2020 — more than any other renewable electricity generation source. That share is expected to reach 10.3% in 2021. CO2 emissions reach lows In 2020, carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. energy sector could be 11% lower than in 2019, according to data collected through August and estimates through December. CO2 emissions are expected to fall by 19% for coal, by 13% for petroleum and by 2% for natural gas. Many of this year’s changes in energy-related CO2 emissions are attributable to COVID-19, including working from home, stay-at-home mandates, closed or limited operating hours for several types of businesses and travel restrictions. In April, monthly U.S. energy consumption fell to a 30-year low and emissions reached a record low. Winter bills holding steady U.S. households that primarily use natural gas or electricity will have slightly higher energy expenditures this winter, with households using propane spending 14% more and those relying...

Smart Sustainability Dec11

Smart Sustainability

Full-service real estate company LBA Realty is continuing its portfolio-wide partnership with Yardi Pulse® as the company implements a Smart Building Program to enhance their sustainability strategy. LBA and Yardi® conducted an initial proof of concept pilot at a single property. In January 2019, LBA Realty adopted a phased approach to roll out Meter Insights and Fault Detection to eleven office properties in four different states. Leveraging pulse modular capability, these initial solutions provide real-time electrical meter monitoring and analytics, as well as HVAC fault detection and diagnostics. This allows the LBA engineering team and Yardi’s consulting services to identify hidden performance issues including extended run time, overlap in HVAC mode conditions and an inefficient sequence of operations. LBA now receives timely and accurate energy use data for 5.9M square feet of their office properties. Year-to-date, the program has resulted in energy use reduction of 16.2M kWh, which equates to savings at $0.32 per square foot. After gathering quantifiable results, LBA is now entering the second phase of implementation, Pulse Building Optimization. “With Pulse Building Optimization representing our artificial intelligence software, we look forward to realizing our vision of bringing intelligent buildings to life,” said Perry Schonfeld, principal and chief operating officer of LBA. “It is exciting to see the progress LBA Realty has made with a phased approach to implementation and the value of their incremental steps. We foresee continued success of LBA’s energy platform and growth of the Yardi-LBA partnership,” said Akshai Rao, vice president at Yardi. Download a brochure to learn more about the Yardi Pulse...

ENERGY STAR Talks Tech Dec04

ENERGY STAR Talks Tech

Utilities are the second highest controllable expense for property owners, so measuring and managing consumption is critical to control costs and minimize waste. The EPA’s ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year Award Winner Webinar Series session on October 8 focused on innovative technologies (Innovative Technologies Part 2) for achieving energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR’s Stacy Glatting was joined by Dan Egan, senior vice president of energy and sustainability for Vornado Realty Trust and Randy Moss, ENERGY STAR benchmarking team lead at Yardi. Egan and Moss shared compelling data about energy costs and talked about tech that makes significant savings possible for real estate operators. The big picture Forward-thinking commercial building operators are implementing a variety of innovative technologies for energy management. Egan shared how Vornado has piloted induction unit valves at its buildings. Moss discussed how Yardi clients have achieved cost savings and maximized performance using a smart software platform that includes artificial intelligence to manage sophisticated building controls. Data analysis from Yardi — incorporating wasted consumption estimates from ENERGY STAR — shows that after MRO, utilities are the second highest expense for real estate firms, and they are controllable with the right solutions. Consider these statistics: Estimated annual spend across controllable expense buckets for 1M sq ft in a portfolio is around $1,980,000 The average commercial building is estimated to waste 30% of its consumption Potential savings equal $600k annually for every 1M sq ft in a portfolio “It’s a data-driven proposition for energy efficiency. We must not only evaluate energy consumption for our buildings, but also more granularly understand tenant consumption and landlord/base building consumption to identify drivers of efficiency,” explained Egan. He noted that the regulatory environment in New York City and the entire state compels companies to consider utility data sources such as the carbon intensity of the grid, hourly pricing (and carbon) signals and future transmission planning when evaluating different energy efficiency projects. “ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® and ENERGY STAR® Tenant Space™ provide frameworks to obtain and monitor these types of data,” added Egan. ENERGY STAR Tenant Space is a new EPA recognition for sustainability in leased office spaces. Vornado Realty Trust’s energy goals Vornado is the largest owner of LEED-certified property in the U.S. and is a member of the Climate Group EP 100. According to Egan, Vornado’s “Vision 2030 Roadmap” includes a total energy reduction goal of 50% with same-store portfolio. In 2019, the company reported progress toward that goal with a 24% reduction in energy use. “Energy efficiency goals must be a tenant partnership,” said Egan. Considering the company reported about 60% of electricity costs are recovered via tenant submeter, that’s no understatement. Egan offered these takeaways after discussing the company’s approach to energy management: Innovative technologies are sometimes tried-and-true solutions that are repackaged with automation and informed by good data to support their value One must understand energy data at different points of the supply chain (from source to end use) to understand the value streams to add to the solution stack Energy efficiency and GHG emissions reductions are often correlated but not always, and rarely linearly Regulation and market signals will drive efficiency further and shift the focus towards electrification Yardi Pulse for energy management Yardi’s Moss talked about managing energy and achieving sustainability using connected and responsive technology. For a complete energy management strategy across your portfolio, you must automate utility invoicing with the ability to mine and validate invoice data, benchmark sustainability, get real-time meter insights and detect system faults as they occur through constant monitoring. With regard to best practices, an energy management system built into your property management platform to combine all your operational data will deliver the best results. Yardi Pulse enables commercial real estate operators to manage energy intelligence and automate energy equipment to lower costs, reduce consumption, keep tenants comfortable and improve efficiency from one connected platform. Plus, Yardi Pulse loads data into...

Flexibility Holds Key Nov25

Flexibility Holds Key...

COVID-19 has had a jarring impact on commercial real estate in the form of health risks, stunted growth prospects, permit and construction delays, reduced income for property owners and the acceleration of e-commerce at the expense of physical stores, among other disruptions. The pandemic precipitated what global management consultant firm McKinsey & Company calls “an unprecedented crisis for the real estate industry.” What will the CRE landscape look like when the pandemic fades? For one thing, new building codes designed to limit the risk of future pandemics could affect standards for HVAC, square footage per person and amount of enclosed space. Office building tenants will almost certainly be driven “to look beyond their traditional building preferences. In this new environment, tenants will gravitate towards the properties that best solve for flexibility, adaptability, and well-being,” according to Erin Saven and Evan Danchenka of Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning firm. Maria Sicola, a founding partner of real estate planning services provider CityStream Solutions and sales and training consultant Integrity Data Solutions, believes tenants will likely make their space “more personalized and less communal – we will likely not return to all-private offices and fancy conference rooms. But all space – personal and meeting — will need to be viewed with more breathing room.” And, of course, cleanliness will command more attention than ever. Commercial Property Executive predicts that “some products and techniques that have been used in medical office buildings and in hospitals are going to be brought to the office sector,” such as microbe-resistant door handles and elevator buttons and sanitation with ultraviolet light. Amenities as differentiators Building owners and developers, for their part, would be well advised to explore “new real estate design strategies that can differentiate them from the competition and...

Did COVID-19 Spark Nov19

Did COVID-19 Spark

Some industries, such as technology and online media, are doing well amid COVID-19, even as the pandemic cuts a swath through virtually every public health, political, social and economic structure. Other segments of the economy, such as travel and hospitality, face a perilous future. And what about the vital energy sector? Before the pandemic hit, energy demand was projected to grow 12% between 2019 and 2030, as developing nations broadened their power generation capacities. But COVID-19 “has brought the generation of energy from fossil fuels to breaking point,” says the World Economic Forum, with global energy demand declining by 5% in 2020. Despite a larger population and world economy, demand in 2050 will be about the same as it is today, according to risk management and quality assurance experts DNV GL, due partly to the effects of COVID-19. “The scale of the fall in demand, the speed of change, and how widespread it has been have generated a radical shift that seems to be more than a temporary short-term drop in demand for fossil fuels, at least in the power sector,” Nelson Mojarro, a World Economic Forum advisor, said in June. That development has opened the door for renewable energy generation to play an even more prominent role on the world energy scene. Renewables, including solar, whose cost has fallen by 82% over a decade, are the lowest-cost source of new power generation, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. That trend is expected to hold over the foreseeable future. And COVID-19, Mojarro says, “has had a game-changing effect in accelerating the clean energy transition in the power sector.” Within 10 weeks of the start of widespread lockdowns, according to data compiled by the International Energy Agency, the U.S. increased its renewable energy consumption...

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 imported or exported. Bi-directional meters tell you how much energy was imported and how much renewable energy was exported. The least common, dual meters have two devices, one to measure import and another for export. The main billing issue, as described in the study, is that only reporting net consumption makes it challenging to benchmark energy performance. To assess this accurately, you need all energy use, regardless of source. Portfolio Manager accurately incorporates onsite renewables into efficiency calculations. Developers may be willing to retrofit older meters with newer versions in order to capture renewable energy generated onsite exported back to the grid and the amount of grid energy sent to the building. The report goes into further detail about renewable energy certificates, inaccurate billing and metering practices, and thoroughly explains the flow chart connecting energy, meter and property. While the total number of buildings reporting onsite renewable energy continues to grow, it still represents a fraction of total properties. Data will become more available to customers as more meters support accurate measurement of onsite renewable energy. Until then, it’s hard to paint a detailed picture of efficiency and even harder to invest in a mix of strategies to achieve great energy use...

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...