Energy Upgrades Jan29

Energy Upgrades

The biggest annual industry event of its kind in Canada provided visibility for one of the key issues in property management. A session at the Property Management Exposition & Conference (PM Expo 2018) in Toronto featured case studies of building energy system upgrades from commercial real estate services provider Colliers International and Triovest Realty Advisors Inc. Martin Levkus, regional director for Yardi Energy, moderated the session. Phillip Raffi, national energy and sustainability manager for Colliers, a Yardi Energy client, discussed a recent update of a 665,000-square-foot mixed-use building in Toronto. The company leveraged utility incentive programs and rebates to offset the costs of retrofitting lighting, installing variable fan drives, redoing the exterior sealant to reduce heat loss through the building envelope, and replacing the building’s boiler with two smaller units. The project produced annual natural gas savings of $33,000, the company’s first BOMA Best Platinum certification in Canada and a 72% reduction in energy use intensity, the energy used per square foot per year. Colliers, which offers energy management planning for all of its properties, has targeted a 5% annual energy reduction for the building. Kit Milnes, national sustainability manager for Triovest Realty Advisors Inc., described enhancements to two properties in Mississauga and Edmonton, Canada, as “the right tools that spark the right actions.” Upgrades included real-time metering and submetering, lighting retrofits, integrated building automation system operations and an optimized HVAC system. The lighting retrofit produced 500,000KwH savings per year at the Mississauga building, which also earned an ENERGY STAR® score of 91 and a BOMA TOBY (Outstanding Building of the Year) award. Meanwhile, the Edmonton property earned LEED EBOM (Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance) Gold certification, a 97 ENERGY STAR score and multiple local and national awards for energy performance. The key to...

Senior Living Utilities Jan24

Senior Living Utilities...

Keeping up with utilities and energy costs is a hurdle for most senior living communities. Argentum senior living association recently reported on industry forecasts and trends: about 49 percent of decision makers said energy and utility costs are a moderate challenge for their business. About 5 percent of their peers reported energy and utility costs as a significant challenge. Electricity on the Rise The challenge arises from an increase in energy and utility costs. U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that commercial electricity prices increased 3 percent from 2016 to 2017. From 2017 to 2018, businesses witnessed an additional 1 percent increase. In 2019, EIA projects prices to increase an additional .6 percent to 10.86 cents per kilowatt hour. Not all regions are affected equally. The Pacific region may experience a 3.5 percent increase above the national average in 2019. On the lower end of the spectrum, the South Atlantic may experience an increase of only 1.5 percent. Some regions will enjoy a decline in costs. The West South Central may be relieved with a drop of -3.4 percent and New England with a drop of -2.4 percent. Natural Gas Projections The national average for gas prices is expected to average $8.02 per thousand cubic feet in 2019, up 1.5 percent from 2018. Regional variations above the national average include West North Central at 6.4 percent, East North Central at 5.9 percent, and Mountain at 4.2 percent. New England may receive an average price drop of -5.5 percent as well as the Middle Atlantic at -2.7 percent. “The declines won’t be enough to offset the sharp increases registered in 2018,” warned the report. Making Changes Overall, utility costs by square foot varied drastically. Some senior living communities reported costs as low as 69 center...

Energy Snapshot Jan17

Energy Snapshot

The Balance Sheet compiled prognostications on some key energy issues: Coal stays stable. After a two-year decline, global demand picked up in 2017 and 2018. China accounts for about half of the world’s consumption, and growing demand in India and Asian countries is offsetting declines in the U.S. and Western Europe. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that the country’s electricity generation share from coal will average 26% in 2019, down from 30% in 2017. Oil retreats. The International Energy Agency and OPEC cut their forecasts for global oil demand growth in 2019, reflecting lower economic growth assumptions. The last time world oil consumption fell was in 2008-09, driven by surging prices and the recession. U.S.’s natural gas role grows.  New liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in Louisiana, Texas and Georgia are scheduled to come online, doubling U.S. LNG exporting capability. China is a key driver of demand as the world’s largest gas importer. EIA expects the share of U.S. total utility-scale electricity generation from natural gas-fired power plants to be 35% in 2019, up from 32% in 2017. Politics play out. Climate politics will ramp up in the U.S. as the 2020 presidential election campaign gears up. In December 2018, leaders in the House of Representatives announced plans to establish a new panel, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. ‘Smart’ gets bigger. Investors and building managers will continue making green practices a core part of their business. “’Smart’ buildings are becoming more common because of new technology, which impacts building operations, and provides both efficiencies and connectivity which is increasingly being sought by tenants,” says the Counselors of Real Estate, an international property professionals organization. The Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit research and education group, adds, “Real estate has been proactive...

Not just hot air Jan01

Not just hot air

Look up and there’s the sun, whose rays can be captured and converted into electricity. Peer down and see fossil fuels, the engine for much of the world’s economy. You need to burrow even further to find another key source of energy, one that’s driven by the molten essence of the Earth. Geothermal energy originates from the heat at the planet’s center. It can be captured as a source of electricity to heat and cool buildings with geothermal heat pumps, which transfer heat to buildings by pumping water or a special fluid through pipes just below the Earth’s surface. Geothermal energy can also generate electricity through geothermal power plants using wells drilled 1 to 2 miles deep into the Earth to pump steam or hot water to the surface. Tapping the Earth’s internal heat dates back thousands of years, with Roman, Chinese and Native American cultures using hot mineral springs for bathing, cooking and eating. The first geothermal plant, built in Italy in 1904, used steam to turn a turbine that powered five light bulbs. Today, more than 20 countries generate geothermal energy, according to National Geographic. Iceland and the Philippines meet nearly one-third of their electricity demand with geothermal energy, while18 power plants at the Geysers Geothermal Complex north of San Francisco comprise the world’s largest geothermal installation. The U.S., the global leader for installed geothermal capacity, provides more than 3.7 gigawatts to the national grid, according to the U.S Department of Energy. Although geothermal offers an environmentally friendly, renewable, reliable and stable energy source with the smallest land footprint of any major power source, it does have its drawbacks. These include the risk of releasing greenhouse gases that tend to congregate near geothermal power plants, power plants’ effect on fragile land stability, high...

Chic. Cozy. Smart. Dec23

Chic. Cozy. Smart.

Sidewalk Labs, the urban innovation organization of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has plans for a new neighborhood in Toronto. The 800-acre site, Quayside, will be the first of its kind. The Neighborhood Hip innovation and practicality combine on the streets of Quayside. “Torontonians want more affordable housing, faster ways to get around the city, safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists, [and] a cleaner and healthier environment,” said Jesse Shapins, Sidewalk Labs’s director of public realm. “That’s what we are aiming to do by creating this new neighborhood.” To fulfill this vision, the site will be composed of mixed-use developments and 12 mass timber buildings up to 30 stories tall. “If the primary load-bearing structure is made of either solid or engineered wood, it’s a mass-timber building,” says Tsay Jacobs director of the Building Technology Lab at Perkins+Will and a member of the International Code Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Tall Wood Buildings. The recently reimagined building method is a risk, but it bears great promise. Due to innovations in building technologies, the unique construction style is strong enough to support tall structures with timber frames. It is also non-combustible, a necessity for many existing building codes. Canadian builders lead the industry in mass timber construction. The new Toronto neighborhood has several experts on hand. In addition to durability and safety, mass timber construction can also be more sustainable. Sidewalk Labs estimates that construction carbon emissions will be 75 to 85 percent less than conventional construction. Getting around will also be more efficient. Quayside plans to connect to light rail for quick transit throughout the metropolitan area. A flexible streetscape is also in the works. Though the plans are not complete, the streetscape will meet Vision Zero guidelines and be suitable for autonomous vehicles. To boost pedestrian transit and cut traffic, covered walkways called “stoas” will help protect walkers from the elements. A floating walkway will connect Quayside with Promontory Park, an anticipated new greenspace. Pedestrians can also access the new Silo Park, which will be the star of the Parliament Slip inlet attraction. Efficiency has been worked into the power infrastructure as well. Grid energy for the buildings will be supported by photovoltaic panels, battery storage, geothermal wells, and sewer heat recovery. The ambitious combination of alternative energies aims to break tradition with neighborhoods that are dependent upon city utilities. The housing plan breaks barriers, too. Toronto has faced an affordability crisis for years. At least 50 percent of residences will be priced at 40 percent below market rate. Those homes will be evenly split between affordable and middle-income pricing. Sidewalk Labs intends to include senior housing in the mix. In theory, the new neighborhood will take less of a toll on waste management than conventional neighborhoods. In its Urban Consolidation Center, robots will collect waste and transport it through a tunnel system. As a result, neighborhood occupants will experience less noise, pollution, and traffic. Sidewalk Labs estimates that it will also be able to divert about 80 percent of waste from landfills. That’s more than twice the efficiency of traditional apartment communities. Quayside will rest on Toronto’s east waterfront with Quay Street and a spacious public walkway running parallel to the waterfront. It will support about 3,000 new jobs, a wellness center, a daycare, and elementary school. The Civic Data Trust Sidewalk Labs claims that the new project will be “the most measurable community in the world.” A multitude of sensors will capture user data in Quayside. That data will be used for public services and planning. No one—not even Alphabet—will own the data. Naturally, privacy issues have been a public concern. Sidewalk Labs is exploring solutions, such as a data trust and independent third-party oversight. That proposal has raised more questions since there are no established data trusts to serve as models. To date, Quayside is a fascinating concept. The final plan will be reviewed by Waterfront Toronto...

Cleaner Trucks Initiative Dec19

Cleaner Trucks Initiative...

A recent proposal to tighten nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions aims to improve air quality. As a side effect, the changes will undoubtedly impact businesses. Can businesses expect to see shipping prices increase as fleet overhead rises? NOx is a type of air pollution formed during the combustion process in motor vehicles. The particulates have an adverse reaction on the environment and human health. By 2025, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates that more than 33 percent of NOx emissions will spew from heavy-duty trucks. To decrease those projected emissions, the EPA is drafting a new set of NOx emission regulations. The EPA recently initiated the Cleaner Trucks Initiative. The legislation updates federal NOx regulations, which have not been revised since 2001. Additionally, the proposal creates a single federal rule for an incongruent batch of federal and state guidelines. Several air agencies have petitioned the EPA for clearer guidelines and tighter standards for the trucking industry. The new plan will help to streamline compliance standards while promoting transport efficiency. The resulting changes will result in less particular matter and cleaner air. “The Cleaner Trucks Initiative will help modernize heavy-duty truck engines, improving their efficiency, and providing cleaner air for all Americans,” said Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said during a press conference. The initiative builds upon the success of previous legislation. Between 2007 and 2017, NOx emissions declined by 40 percent. The new challenge is to continue NOx emission decline without hindering economic growth.  John Mies, manager of corporate communications for Volvo Group North, has been a vocal supporter of the proposal. Past legislation has been “challenging but practical” he said. He added, “This is a great opportunity to update and streamline the certification and compliance processes, ensuring a focus on real-world emissions control with minimal impediment...

Sustainable Slopes Dec18

Sustainable Slopes

While offering mountains of fun in a winter wonderland, ski resorts also take sustainability seriously. Almost 200 resorts, more than 75% of the U.S. total, have endorsed “Sustainable Slopes,” the National Ski Areas Assn.’s (NSAA’s) Environmental Charter that incorporates principles for ski area planning, operations and outreach. As climate change concerns and consumers’ environmental awareness grow, NSAA and other ski resort stakeholders are devising strategies to “help ski resorts transfer the concept of sustainability from one involving a few disparate energy and efficiency projects to a comprehensive a holistic way of doing business, and one that will seriously enhance the long-term prospects of the areas that adopt them,” as described by the ski magazine Powder. The latest annual report from NSAA, a trade association for alpine resorts, summarizes progress in water conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste reduction and recycling made by more than 300 ski areas that responded to a survey. One destination highlighted in the NSAA annual report, Boreal Mountain Resort & Soda Springs in California, has pledged to reduce its 2011 emissions levels by 25% by 2020. Resort managers retired less efficient vehicles, retrofitted night lighting infrastructure and installed solar panels that will generate 325,000 KwH annually. Another resort, Montana’s Bridger Bowl, offers free electric bus service on weekends as an alternative to single-occupant vehicles. And Copper Mountain Ski Resort in Frisco, Colo., installed electric vehicle charging stations, commingled recycling, composting and scrap steel recycling, and completed a building lighting retrofit. Opportunities for sustainability extend to a ski resort’s sine qua non: snow. An NSAA fact sheet notes that while snowmaking isn’t considered a consumptive act—most of the water diverted from streams for snowmaking returns to the watershed—opportunities abound to execute the process more efficiently: employing efficient snow-guns to increase the...

Charged Up Dec10

Charged Up

ENERGY STAR® certifications have gone mobile. Originally geared toward properties and consumer products, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) efficiency program now includes a scoring system for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. In December 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its inaugural ENERGY STAR specification for electric vehicle chargers. An ENERGY STAR-certified charging station is defined as using 40% less energy than an uncertified one. As EV technology increases its foothold in the marketplace, its capabilities and ENERGY STAR endorsement offer substantial cost, convenience and sustainability benefits. Moving toward EV-compatibility EV sales are expected to top 1 million by 2020, up from about 200,000 in 2017. Some observers predict EVs will be the dominant mode of propulsion for cars by 2030, making charging an increasingly significant value consideration for multifamily and commercial property owners. Driving EVs and using ENERGY STAR-certified chargers can produce: Savings—EVs cost about half as much to drive per mile than standard gasoline-powered vehicles, according to this calculator. Property owners hosting charging stations for tenants and customers can control costs by anticipating the need for new EV equipment, upgrading electrical service to accommodate it, taking operations and maintenance costs into account, and researching incentives that make installations easier and less expensive Efficiency—EVs convert about 59–62% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels, whereas conventional gasoline vehicles convert about 17%–21% of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels Convenience—Most EV charging happens at home or work, giving property managers who offer this capability a competitive advantage. But what if those places aren’t available? Locate the nearest public charger location in the U.S. here Smart technology—Some ENERGY STAR-certified EV charger models use Wi-Fi technology for remote power monitoring and control of the charging state...

CA Benchmarking Dec08

CA Benchmarking

A California energy benchmarking law going into effect next June requires multifamily property owners to complete a potentially daunting array of information gathering and reporting requirements. Yardi’s energy management software and experts stand ready to make the process easy and painless. Under the mandate, known as AB 802, owners of multifamily buildings with more than 17 units, or gross floor area of 50,000 square feet, must report information on energy use from all energy meters using ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®. Reports to the California Energy Commission for 2018 are due to the California Energy Commission on June 1, 2019, and annually thereafter. Similar requirements for commercial buildings went to effect in June 2018.  Actions the commission recommends to meet the June 1 deadline begin by Feb. 1, 2019. Each building’s energy efficiency will be disclosed on a yet-to-be-established state website. “Publicly disclosing the performance of buildings will allow building owners and tenants to make better informed purchasing and leasing decisions, and the general public to better understand the buildings in which they live and work,” according to the California Energy Commission. Yardi is an ENERGY STAR Partner and is helping California users of the Yardi Smart Energy Suite get ready for AB 802. All owners of more than 330 California properties that rely on Yardi for ENERGY STAR benchmarking have retained the company in preparing for AB 802. Yardi Utility Expense Management, an element of the Yardi Pulse Suite, centralizes utility cost and consumption data and sends it directly into ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Portfolio Manager is an online tool for tracking energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. It also allows comparisons of a building’s energy performance against similar-type buildings. Elements of AB 802 compliance include setting up multiple measurement criteria for...

Building AI Dec07

Building AI

How can artificial intelligence (AI) benefit building operators? Matt Eggers, a Yardi consultant (and former vice president of Yardi Energy) and Yardi vice president Akshai Rao offered insights during a recent webinar hosted by Paul Rosta, executive editor of Commercial Property Executive. “Software is eating the world” and reshaping how people work and live; the various aspects of operating a building are no exception, Eggers noted. Many webinar participants and CPE readers say they plan to increase technology expenditures next year, but by 25% or less, which means building owners have to be smart about their investments. That’s where AI—the ability of machines and computers to perform cognitive functions normally associated with humans—comes in. Eggers Rao Rosta Optimizing building performance AI “learns as it goes,” detecting patterns in conditions affecting energy consumption without being requested, then prescribing recommendations. Outside of buildings, AI’s well-documented feats include beating chess grandmasters, winning at “Jeopardy!” and creating an image of a human face from scratch by learning from thousands of other photos. The expansion of digital data availability (“AI’s food and oxygen,” as Eggers described it), computing power and software enhancements, and cheap storage have made AI viable for the corporate world. And businesses have reacted in force: About 80% of webinar participants said they’re using AI or plan to within three years. Examples of how AI systems make a building more efficient include optimizing the setpoint (the target temperature) every 30 seconds to ensure comfort without using more energy than necessary; and learning from their past performance to react to changes in occupancy, weather and other factors. AI systems’ ability to perform continuous and small adjustments into HVAC settings translates into better performance through lower utility and equipment maintenance costs; increased tenant comfort that reduces service calls...

Let’s Save the World Nov26

Let’s Save the World...

The recently released UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report shocked everyone who was paying attention. In short, attempting to mitigate temperature rises to 1.5 percent by 2050 (which already seemed impossible to most) is too little too late. The globe is on a trajectory to see temperatures rise more than 3 percent by that time. The resulting flooding, droughts and superstorms will be catastrophic. A drastic shift in energy sourcing and usage is necessary to limit economic and humanitarian costs. Fortunately, drastic doesn’t mean impossible. Microgrids and carbon dioxide recycling are two available solutions that can make substantial impact. Microgrids Microgrids enable centralized power generation, storage and delivery. They offer more efficient power transmission, reduce costs for consumers, and decrease the duration of blackouts which can save lives and protect economies. A microgrid can “cut air pollution from the electric utility sector as much as 30 percent by 2030, saving 34,000 deaths a year,” states Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative. The systems offer more immediate benefits as well. Hurricanes Florence and Michael, for example, resulted in nearly $100 billion in property damages. After factoring in electricity outages and stalled commerce, Accenture estimates that such storms can cost economies $150 billion per year. The implementation of microgrids would reduce the economic impact of natural disasters by quickly restoring power. Microgrids also facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources with flexible scalability. Local organizations do not need to wait on utility companies or governments to implement more sustainable practices. Solar panels, roof-mounted wind turbines, and other sustainable energy devices can be used as the primary energy source on individual projects. Several power companies are exploring the power, efficiency and reliability of microgrids. Edison International, Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Duke Energy, San Diego Gas & Electric are just...

Doing More Nov15

Doing More

“Do more with less”—a philosophy that some fear is a recipe for exhausting people and systems. But a recent webinar sponsored by the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Assn. (PRSM) showed how the right technology, when properly executed, can benefit workers and businesses—and cut operational costs by tens of millions of dollars. The webinar shared best practices for choosing and implementing technology, as well as improving internal processes to make global management work. Commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE, which manages communications services provider Sprint Nextel’s real estate operations, including its building automation systems, highlighted its energy journey and the implementation of Yardi Pulse Central Control, former Proliphix, in more than 1,200 U.S. retail outlets operated by Sprint. Chris Gardner Cole Schooland Ken Cooper After taking over Sprint’s real estate operations in 2009, CBRE used technology and improved processes to lower Sprint’s operating systems costs by $35 million, generate more than $750,000 in energy savings, reduce energy costs by 14%, and cut the company’s small box retail division’s maintenance costs by 15-20%, Chris Gardner, real estate manager for Sprint Nextel, told the webinar participants. A CBRE audit revealed more than 2 million hours of unnecessary run-time. Dedicated to investing in long-term solutions, CBRE greatly expanded its use of Yardi Pulse Central Control to optimize building lighting and control heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems with cloud-based remote management software. The solution enables easy scheduling adjustments and safeguards for continuously monitoring temperatures, thermostat settings and potential equipment malfunctions, ensuring each building only uses the energy it needs. But investing in the right solution meant taking the conversation far beyond mere energy savings to address maintenance costs, asset health, employee efficiency and even revenue. According to webinar participant Cole Schoolland, this requires a multifaceted...

Zeroing In Nov05

Zeroing In

It was a different era in 1997, when Portland, Ore.-based New Buildings Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes energy performance improvements in commercial buildings, was founded. LEED and ENERGY STAR® buildings, Living Buildings, market adoption of renewable energy to any measurable degree—all were yet to come. “Reducing energy use was almost exclusively driven by utility efficiency programs focusing largely on fluorescent lighting upgrades,” NBI reflected recently. Today, At least 50% of customers have the option to purchase renewable electricity directly from their power supplier according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Energy conservation has become considerably more sophisticated in a report NBI recently released to coincide with the organization’s 20th anniversary. While still small in relation to total buildings and floor space, zero building development in the U.S. is accelerating, according to the report. Zero energy buildings—defined by the U.S. Department of Energy as a property or community where “on a source energy basis, the actual annual delivered energy is less than or equal to the on-site renewable exported energy”—are gaining favor across virtually all property types. The recent NBI report, “Getting to Zero Status Update and List of Zero Energy Projects,” highlights nearly 500 zero energy commercial building projects across the U.S. Projects owned by for-profit companies account for 26% of the list.  Privately held buildings account for 46% of zero energy buildings, with K-12 schools representing 18%. By contrast, NBI’s first Getting to Zero Status Update in 2012 reported just 60 commercial and multifamily buildings or projects that were either verified as zero energy or approaching that level. Zero energy buildings had the potential to grow in popularity, Greg Zimmerman, executive editor of FacilitiesNet, said in 2010, because they are “the embodiment of sustainability because net-zero is a model that is self-contained—no...

Energy Futures Oct31

Energy Futures

The recent World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC) 2018 in Charlotte, N.C., addressed factors that impact an organization’s energy performance. we asked Christy Cannon, an account executive for Yardi Energy, about her experience at one of the year’s major energy conferences and technology expositions. Christy, what did you gain from the conference? Cannon: The classes are very beneficial to me because it’s a conference by and for energy managers. This is my wheelhouse! I’ve been doing energy management for almost 20 years and attending this conference for almost a decade. I’m also proud that Yardi has supported the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), presenter of the conference, for years by sending attendees and serving as a corporate sponsor. Q: Why was this year’s WEEC special for Yardi? A: This was the first time Yardi Energy had a booth at WEEC. Also, all nine of our group are certified as energy managers by AEE: Kushal Shah, Rahsan Stewart, Ray Segars, Alex Gonzalez, Arturo Perea, Ankita Gupta, Dan Rice, Dan Cordero and me. When I joined Yardi in 2012 I was the company’s only Certified Energy Manager. The addition of eight CEMs reflects Yardi’s commitment to supporting clients’ energy management and sustainability needs. Q: What were the main takeaways from the conference? A: Presenters outlined three trends to watch for in 2019. One is the evolution of blockchain, whose potential application to the energy industry includes microgrids comprising multiple buildings, each of which having their own generation, that enable peer-to-peer energy trading with no utility involvement. Generation capacity, pricing, and transaction details could be shared with everyone in the microgrid in real time. It also has potential scalability and security advantages. Q: What was the second key trend? A: The role of artificial intelligence (AI) in shaping energy demand management....

Utility Advantages Oct30

Utility Advantages

Along with learning more about property and investment management solutions, clients used the most recent Yardi Advanced Solutions Conference (YASC) to share experiences and best practices. Representatives from Streetlane Homes, Holland Partner Group and Legacy Partners discussed in a panel session the benefits they have gained from Yardi Utility Expense Management, which receives account information and utility data directly from utility companies serving properties and generates payments to those providers. Streetlane Homes: Got their weekends back Streetlane Homes, a Roofstock company, is a leading provider of property and asset management services for single family rental home portfolios and saved more than $100,000 in overhead costs and reduced late fees by 90% within eight months of implementing Yardi Utility Expense Management in November 2017. “The solution relieved our corporate office of processing 17,000 utility invoices per month. With our previous utility service system, we had to audit every bill. That’s a lot of paperwork and manual labor that Yardi has taken off our hands,” said Teresa Taylor, vice president, finance for Streetlane Homes. “Having Yardi Voyager internal systems already in place made for a seamless transition to Yardi Utility Expense Management.” She added, “We had nine people working Saturdays and Sundays working on utility invoices. Nobody does that now. I was signing 400 checks a day. Now I have all that time back for more important tasks, and only two people are dedicated to accounts payable.” The Yardi Utility Expense Management support team also tracks and resolves service disconnections, keeping Streetlane Homes residents happy. “If there’s a late fee, Yardi calls the provider and gets it reversed,” Taylor said. Holland Partner Group: Proactive customer service Joanne Bush of Vancouver, Wash.-based property owner and manager Holland Partner Group faced workflow and invoice management issues that were...

Pretty + Efficient? Oct26

Pretty + Efficient?

If a commercial or residential building is a sustainability engineer’s dream, is it OK that it looks like a shoebox?  Is it worth living in a five-star palace if its carbon footprint is bigger than Godzilla’s? Is it possible to strike a balance so a property can look beautiful from the outside with an equally gorgeous ENERGY STAR score inside? Many industry leaders think so. “There has been a real increase and a focus on creating projects that are sustainable, from the way they look at the site and systems, to design materials that are used in the projects,”  Bob Tiscareno, founder and principal of Seattle architecture and urban design firm Tiscareno Associates, said in December 2017. Those design materials include timber (lighter than steel and concrete while soaking up carbon), recycled materials and a concrete under development that would use bacteria to repair cracks. Buildings that successfully intertwine beauty and sustainability include The Commons, an apartment building near Melbourne, Australia. Described by one writer as “a beacon of green and thoughtful design,” The Commons has earned multiple accolades since opening in 2013, including awards for residential architecture and sustainable architecture from the Australian Institute of Architects. Its features include thermal efficiency and simple ceiling fans superseding air conditioning, glue-free recycled bricks and shared clotheslines in lieu of dryers. In 2017, projects cited by the American Institute of Architects as exemplifying the integration of “great design, great performance and sustainable design excellence” included a science building in Fall River, Mass., that’s “not only elegant and inviting, but also a model of sustainability”; a university campus near Pittsburgh that generates more energy than it uses; and a sanitation vehicle garage in New York City that integrates “innovative architectural design with sustainability and a sensitivity to...

High Energy Gathering Oct11

High Energy Gathering

The recent International Facility Management Assn. World Workplace 2018 (IFMA WW18) attracted about 4,000 real estate professionals to Charlotte, N.C., to learn about managing properties more efficiently and improving building occupants’ experience. World Workplace is the world’s largest series of facility management conferences and expositions. Yardi was a sponsor, exhibitor, and session leader at World Workplace this year. Regional director of Yardi Energy, Annette Durnack delivered a presentation titled, “The Future Is Now: Increase Your Contribution by Leveraging Artificial Intelligence for Buildings and Beyond,” which focused on AI’s ability to optimize building operations for maximum efficiency and comfort. The presentation sparked a lively Q&A exchange with the full-house audience, with many audience members seeking details on uniting multiple building automation systems to decrease maintenance and repair costs. Educational sessions at IFMA WW2018 covered topics such as sustainability, emergency preparedness, building occupant engagement, and more. “A principal theme among those at the conference was the realization that, now more than ever, knowledge is power. I was pleased to demonstrate that solutions such as Yardi Pulse provide an unprecedented degree of intelligence for facilities management,” said IFMA WW18 attendee Christy Cannon, an account executive for Yardi Energy. Brennan McReynolds of CBRE, a Yardi client, presented the firm’s new mobile app, called “360,” that combines features that employees use in their personal lives and the workplace. The app features interactive floor maps, location tracking within buildings, food ordering, meeting room reservations, and more.  The 360 app expands the wide adoption of GPS services, automated reminders, mobile food delivery, and smart scheduling tools used in personal lives to the workplace, with a few helpful additions. Another speaker, Dr. Gabor Nagy of Haworth, which specializes in optimizing the efficiency of a building’s occupants, continued the focus on building occupants. Nagy discussed the evolution of workplace collaboration, noting that companies are becoming increasingly focused on bolstering group collaboration. Some employers have reduced the physical boundaries between employees to foster collaborative work. According to Nagy, individual participation can be further encouraged by providing calm spaces away from the workstation where employees can engage in “focus work.” Reducing the physical barriers between employees is one step in creating a collaborative environment, Nagy said, but it is equally important to focus on the elements that make individuals want to share their ideas in the first place. Read about Yardi’s views of AI and its increasing role in the property management industry as discussed at the recent IREM Global Summit 2018. Learn how the Yardi Smart Energy Suite can help property managers reduce energy consumption, improve occupant comfort and meet sustainability...

40 Sustainable Cities Oct11

40 Sustainable Cities...

Nearly four decades after President Carter adventurously installed solar panels on the White House, America’s energy transition away from fossil fuels has seen only modest progress. 2007 marked the first year in history when more than half of the world’s population lived in cities, and the U.N. estimated that, by 2030, urban settings will be home to nearly two thirds of the global population. However, it was just in March 2017 that monthly electricity generation from wind and solar exceeded 10% of total U.S. electricity generation for the first time. As America’s vibrant cities grow at an unprecedented pace, so does the importance of sustainable urban planning, power generation, transport systems, water and sanitation, and waste management. We set out to gauge how U.S. cities fare in terms of sustainability, and how the commercial real estate industry has embraced green building to support these efforts. We ended up with a ranking of 40 ‘sustainably powered’ U.S. cities. Read on to see how we did it and what the results show. Methodology: Our Scores, Explained For the purpose of this study, we looked at data on U.S. cities with a 100,000 population minimum, and present the 40 that achieved top scores: Arlington, Va.; Atlanta, Ga.; Austin, Texas; Baltimore, Md.; Boston, Mass.; Boulder, Colo.; Chicago, Il.; Cleveland, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colo.; Detroit, Mich.; Durham, N.C.; Eugene, Ore.; Hayward, Calif.; Houston, Texas; Indianapolis, Ind.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Lakewood, Colo.; Lancaster, PA; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; Oakland, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; Reno, NV; Richmond, VA; San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; Savannah, GA; Seattle, WA; St. Louis, MO; Tucson, AZ; Washington, D.C.; Yonkers, NY. The starting point of our research was to learn how each of...

Energy + AI Oct09

Energy + AI

Technological advancements drive many of our most engaging industry-wide discussions. The recent Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) 2018 Global Summit, a networking and education conference for property and asset managers, gave Yardi a high-visibility forum to showcase the connection between artificial intelligence (AI) and energy management. Matt Eggers, vice president of Yardi Energy, delivered a presentation titled “Artificial Intelligence: New Frontiers in Energy Management and Cost Reductions,” which sparked further discussion of the impact of AI. Read on to see our responses to some of the questions raised during the session. What happens to the energy data that’s collected, and how does it advance the commercial real estate industry? AI systems help identify a building’s most important performance characteristics and reveal what should be prioritized in terms of equipment and usage. The data collected “trains” AI systems to make better-informed, more sophisticated decisions that optimize a building’s energy performance and occupant comfort. The more data that’s collected, the more efficiently the energy management system (EMS) will perform, which in turn reduces carbon emissions. Increasing sustainability within our industry is among the top priorities of Yardi, and the energy data aids our research and helps us achieve that goal. How can an AI-enabled EMS add revenue streams? As renewable energy technology matures, implementation costs decrease. AI’s role in optimizing systems that draw from renewable energy sources matures as well. In 2016 alone, 19 gigawatts of new wind and solar energy capacity were installed in the U.S., according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, and the price per watt of solar energy has reduced by over 99% since the 1950s. This is good news for owners of buildings that generate their own energy because they have the opportunity to sell what they don’t use to...

Investing in Efficiency Sep27

Investing in Efficiency

The importance of technology, including solutions provided by Yardi, in improving building energy performance is well documented. Perhaps less widely known, but no less crucial, is the role energy-oriented financial incentives play in helping property owners afford to invest in energy efficiency upgrades. Until recently, the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) noted in a recent article, “building owners seeking more energy-efficient buildings had to seek out nontraditional financing and keep their energy upgrades separate from a traditional mortgage.” Today, a growing number of multifamily as well as commercial and affordable housing mortgages include sustainability incentives. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have emerged as leaders in this new era of energy-efficiency financing. Under Freddie Mac’s Multifamily Green Advantage® suite of offerings, property owners who commit to reducing energy or water consumption by at least 25%, as verified by EPA’s ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®, can receive better pricing and funding to make those improvements. Properties already green-certified may be eligible for rewards. “We’ve purchased nearly $18 billion in loans and helped finance 184,000 units in just the first 16 months of the program since launch in 2016. We’re proud to be making a real difference for borrowers, renters and the environment,” Freddie Mac said in a November 2017 statement. In May 2018, Richard Meyer, a Freddie Mac official presenting on a panel at a Yardi Executive Briefing, reported $21.7 billion in financing to date. Meanwhile, Fannie Mae’s green financing for multifamily properties has offered mortgage financing to cover energy and water efficiency improvements in apartment buildings and cooperatives since 2012. Through 2017, the program has contributed to the upgrading of 248,000 units with new equipment, saving enough electricity to power 80 million cell phones and enough water to fill 42 billion glasses. “These improvements improve the property’s bottom line with lower utility costs, improve the quality and affordability of housing for tenants, and increase the property’s environmental sustainability,” the Fannie Mae website says. Green financing comprises more than 40% of Fannie Mae’s multifamily loans – about $31 billion during 2017. Some smaller and nontraditional channels, such as community development financial institutions (CDFIs), offer alternative financing. One CDFI, New York City’s Community Preservation Corporation, underwrites multifamily property financing for energy efficiency improvements into its traditional first-mortgage loans. Whichever program is used, it’s clear that property owners benefit. IMT Executive Director Cliff Majersik, speaking at the May 2018 Yardi Executive Briefing, said that a soon-to-be-released study of 50 green-certified residential buildings shows that those properties averaged $6 higher revenue per square foot per year than non-certified buildings; after accounting for some increased expenses, the NOI per square foot increased by more than $4.50. More recently, the IMT reported on a six-floor, 34,600-square-foot multifamily walk-up for which New York’s Community Preservation Corporation provided $1.4 million in construction and mortgage financing for a roof-to-cellar renovation. New LED lighting, low-flow showerheads and faucets, refrigerators and other upgrades reduced the property’s annual utility cost by $23,000. Prior to the overhaul, the owner historically spent about $2,210 per apartment on annual utility expenses; the retrofit decreased the cost to $1,540 per apartment, an annual savings of about 30%. “Key [market] players . . . must be aware of critical building components that affect energy efficiency—and be willing to integrate these details into their loan proposals. Mortgage brokers have a unique ability to impact loan amounts when successfully factoring in energy efficiency [and] can help leverage all players in a buildings lifecycle and acknowledge that investing in energy efficiency is both good for business and good for the environment,” says the July 2018 IMT article, which is available in its entirety...