Energy Benchmarking

By on Jul 4, 2020 in Energy, News

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 year, we’re making benchmarking easier than ever. Despite these challenges, we’re expecting to make progress on these goals. We’re moving forward, and we’re excited.”

The real-world savings of energy sustainability

Before closing out the webinar, Randy Moss shared his team’s own success with energy optimization at the Yardi corporate headquarters. The goal was to recover $100,000 in upgrades over two years, and by month seven, they’d already broken even. “That was five years ago. Since then, all of those savings have gone to the bottom line for the building,” said Moss.

Yardi now spends less than half the money on energy than before, and that’s with five years of rate increases added in. Energy use has decreased by 60%, and just as important for property managers, the number of complaint calls about building temperature have dropped, saving staff extra time, energy and effort.

“The process, everything we did, is the exact same as you would do at any other building,” said Moss. So how do you get started with an energy strategy for your communities? Be sure to watch the webinar recording for plenty of information on ENERGY STAR resources, program incentives and more.