Benchmarking Bonus

By on May 12, 2017 in News

Currently, over 45% of the US commercial buildiNAA ROEng market uses the ENERGY STAR®, the US EPA’s voluntary certification program designed to measure energy efficiency and improve resource management. At the heart of ENERGY STAR® lies the ability to track energy usage data to reduce energy consumption and improve building performance.

“It all starts with taking a look at what you have and seeing what [information] you’re tracking and what data is available,” Craig Haglund, Program Manager, for the US EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, said in the National Apartment Association’s recent webinar, Financial Success with Energy Benchmarking. With comprehensive data collection and analytics capabilities, US EPA’s Portfolio Manager works in concert with ENERGY STAR for complete resource management oversight.

“They say ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure,’ which is 100% true,” Haglund continued, “but that misses what you can do with all that data.”

Whole Building Consumption

For building owners and managers interested in tracking their energy, water and waste metrics, ENERGY STAR provides an easy, comprehensive management tool: Portfolio Manager. With Portfolio Manager, building data can be tracked and analyzed. Users can create customized reports and monitor changes in energy, water, greenhouse gas emissions and more.

“Portfolio Manager literally includes hundreds of measurement metrics,” explained Haglund. “Standardized reports can help users assess portfolio performance and share that information or integrate it into other presentations.”

Those measurement metrics can be applied to any sized property portfolio, from one building to, in the case of East Coast real estate services firm Bozzuto Management, 63,000 units spread out over 220 communities and representing 2.1 million square feet of mixed-use development.

“We have been using Portfolio Manager since 2012,” said Bozzuto’s Director of Sustainability, Peter Zadoretzky. “Over the last couple of years, we’ve gone from a messy, decentralized benchmarking platform to having nearly our entire portfolio in the program.”

For Zadoretzky, one key benefit of Portfolio Manager’s capabilities lies in the ability to work with third-party billing providers so that property manager and their staff aren’t spending time inputting information for thousands of individual tenant accounts.

“We realized reading energy bills and putting information into an online platform on a monthly basis was not our team’s core competency,” he explained. “We really wanted to let them do their job and focus on what they do best, managing our properties and interacting with our residents.”

Zadoretzky also pointed out how using a consolidated database for energy billing allows Bozzuto to improve operational oversite, saying, “Portfolio Manager makes it possible to see what’s happening portfolio-wide.”

“Obviously we are using Portfolio Manager to identify opportunities for improvement as well as highlight what is and isn’t working,” he continued. “Our third party partners provide a platform that is the eyes and ears behind our efforts, allowing us to see what’s happening and catching things that property managers miss and act quickly.”

“The more we dig in and use Portfolio Manager, the more we learn about ourselves and our communities,” he said. “It’s helping us get better and better.”

Becoming an Energy “Star”

One core function of Portfolio Manager involves providing benchmarking information for use in determining a building’s ENERGY STAR score. Not only are more and more municipalities and government agencies requiring benchmarking in the commercial and multi-housing space, but ENERGY STAR ratings also provide an incentive to improve resource management and reduce waste.

“It’s not only about the ‘why,’” says Zadoretzky, “but articulating the ‘how,’ so we can align our sustainability goals with our client’s objectives and our resident’s and prospects expectations.”

That ‘how” is made easy with Portfolio Manager’s measurement metrics and extensive recordkeeping capabilities. Zadoretzky and his teams discovered tracking energy use allows the company to gauge the viability of their sustainability efforts and promote their successes.

“In 2016 we really put a microscope on how we were doing and discovered we had a 4% energy reduction compared to the previous calendar year,” detailed Zadoretzky. “We were excited about this [result] because it allowed us to articulate our savings and illustrate value on our portfolio.”

“Reports are straightforward and easy,” agreed Elizabeth Merzigian, a Facilities Manager with Peabody Properties. “Working with our parent company, Portfolio Manager offers a global look by linking all of our accounts so that our third-party partner can organize the data and get a big picture of what is going on.”

“Raw data is great,” she added, “but the visual graphs that Portfolio Manager creates really get it to the point where you can convey energy consumption and savings [in a way] that you can see significant strides.”

Celebrating Success

At Bozzuto, benchmarking data and ENERGY STAR scores provide an opportunity to promote the company’s efforts not just amongst staff and business partners, but with residents and prospects as well.

“We see benchmarking as a competitive advantage,” Zadoretzky admitted. “We highlight our ENERGY STAR scores in all of our materials, from RFDs to pitches, as well as throughout the development process.”

“We’re hearing rumblings of ENERGY STAR scores showing up on Yelp reviews and apartment websites, and we’re making sure to promote our properties with ENERGY STAR certification,” he said.

“Bozzuto has been known for a long time for our customer service,” he concluded. “We are working hard to elevate our building performance to that same level by taking advantage of the marketing opportunities available with benchmarking and ENERGY STAR.”

Learn more about the Yardi Smart Energy Suite, including utility invoice processing and ENERGY STAR benchmarking services.

NAA’s Return on Energy (R.O.E.) Initiative, sponsored by Yardi, promotes apartment communities that have mastered the sustainability and energy reduction equation.  R.O.E. educates industry professionals on using benchmarking information to improve energy efficiency and helps members at all skill levels learn tools and tricks of the trade by highlighting innovative solutions. Learn more and view upcoming events at