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Implementing and optimizing an Energy Management Solution (EMS) has multiple benefits, including bottom-line reductions and profit maximizations.
Energy consciousness is increasing in the current economy because consumers are starting to demand it, and government regulators are starting to enforce it. At Groove Technology Solutions, we know that this is especially true for companies that own and operate multi-dwelling facilities, like hotels or apartment complexes.
This post will explore energy management options that are well-suited for multi-dwelling type facilities. This type of building necessitates a unique approach to energy management because the system has to work despite the diverse energy-use approaches among tenants, yet remain consistent from unit to unit. That said, our recommendations in this post may be useful for any company looking to maximize its energy management system.
Commercial buildings, including multifamily apartment complexes and hotels, have the potential to waste a lot of energy, which drives up operation costs. Up to 30% of the annual energy consumption of commercial properties can be attributed to wasted energy.
With that statistic in mind, it is clear why energy management solutions are an important part of creating economic sustainability within your business model. This is especially true when your property and facilities are your product. If you can save on the costs of maintaining your facilities, you will be significantly decreasing your bottom line.
Maximizing the energy management solution for a multi-dwelling facility is best achieved through a top-down process. Here are ten steps to help your company develop a strategy for optimizing energy efficiency that can be implemented at the corporate, property, building, unit, and consumer levels.
The first step toward maximizing your energy management solutions is to figure out what your current energy consumption is. Measurements should be taken at three main levels:
Additionally, measurements should be captured at different times during the year to account for seasonal changes in energy consumption patterns. This will help you establish baselines and identify specific areas where energy conservation can be prioritized.
It is important to measure each building and unit individually because they may not all consume energy equally. Variables such as building orientation can, for example, cause identical buildings to consume different amounts of energy, due to the sun’s effect on heating and cooling.
Another factor to consider at this step are benchmarks. That is, you should find out how much energy properties similar to yours consume. You should find benchmarks for properties that have different energy management strategies of their own.
For example, you could take a benchmark for an Energy Star certified property, a LEED-certified, and a LEED-platinum property. This information will assist you when it comes time to set goals for your company and measure your progress along the way.
Once you have collected the necessary data and identified applicable benchmarks, it is time to come up with the goals you hope to achieve by maximizing your energy management solutions. Here are some examples of possible goals:
The possibilities are practically endless when it comes to EMS goal setting. Still, it is good to remain realistic and run a cost-benefit analysis on any goals you set that involve investments in new technologies or require many infrastructures.
During the goal-setting process, it is a good idea to start writing new standard operating procedures to facilitate these goals. Obviously, your company will have to change the way it has done things to achieve your goals, so the sooner you identify develop practices, the better.
Here are a few examples of some standard operating procedures (SOPs) that can be a part of your energy management system:
Of course, the operating procedures you create will vary depending on your property, business model, and goals.
When it comes to your Energy Management Solution, low-hanging fruits are the things you can bring into line with your energy management strategy with little to no labor or capital investments. For the most part, this step entails addressing passive energy waste or making easy switches to more efficient alternatives.
Examples of low hanging fruit include:
Small steps toward your goals can have a huge impact; just by addressing areas of passive energy waste, you can increase efficiency by 10-15 percent.
Cultivating an energy-conscious culture among your company’s employees, customers, guests, and/or tenants will help you maximize your energy management solutions by fostering a buy-in on the part of your company’s biggest energy consumers.
There are four main ways to cultivate an energy-conscious culture:
When used together, these four elements should foster a team-work mentality among the stakeholders in, and consumers of, your company/product. Let’s quickly take a look at each element.
Education can go a long way to motivate your stakeholders’ buy-in to your energy management strategy and help you achieve your goals. Education can take several different shapes.
Formats could be as simple as a sign-in common area reminding tenants to turn off the lights when they are done using the space or as involved as workshops intended to help train employees on new energy-saving standards.
The main goal of educational efforts should be to explain the why behind your energy management solutions and how each individual can contribute to the goals you have set. Typically, people are more willing to do something when they understand why they are being asked to do it.
Incentives can be useful to motivate stakeholders to adopt energy-saving habits or make energy-conscious ideas. There are many creative ways to incentivize participation in energy management solutions.
In some ways, the hotel industry is already leading the way on this front by incentivizing conservation behaviors among guests. For example, many large hotel chains have started gifting guests with loyalty points for waving off housekeeping or reusing their towels.
The main goal of incentives is to offer people an economic reason to forgo a preferred energy-intensive behavior. Of course, these “economic” incentives do not need to be monetary, but they should match or exceed the value a person derives from otherwise consuming the energy.
Establishing systems for energy accountability can be difficult. On the one hand, you do not want to be too punitive, but on the other, you want to stress that energy waste is a big deal to you and your company.
Of course, if you are managing a multi-dwelling property, you have the potential for built-in energy-accountability. Individually metered units will pass on the cost of superfluous energy-use onto the consumer, which disincentivizes that kind of energy consumption.
But if you are trying to hold hotel guests or employees accountable, things get a little more complicated. Some companies will include an energy management section to their employee’s annual reviews and follow up to see how people are doing with energy-saving operating procedures.
When holding someone accountable, it is always important to offer support. If they are struggling to stick to the energy management strategy, it could be because they are not able to do so without extra support.
Green branding is a powerful tool in today’s business climate. When you brand yourself as an energy-conscious company, you will attract similarly conscious employees and clients who will naturally fall in line with your energy management strategy. (We will talk more about the benefits and intentions of green branding in a later section of this post.)
Technology can go a long way toward maximizing your energy management solutions because they are a central part of any effective energy management strategy. There are tons of cool technologies to help your facilities run efficiently, from something simple like motion-sensing lights to more complex technologies, like the Tesla Powerpack.
In this section, we will be focusing on two main categories of energy technologies: energy-efficient technologies and energy management technologies.
This category encompasses all kinds of technologies that help to increase the energy-efficiency of your facilities. It is a broad category, so we won’t be able to cover all of the cool examples of energy-efficiency technologies on the market today, but here are five we think could be useful to companies that manage multi-dwelling properties:
Energy Management technologies are not necessarily designed to increase energy efficiency, but they do help you monitor energy use and cut down on energy costs. We are only going to discuss two examples here: energy management software and energy storage batteries.
Energy management software is designed to monitor facility-wide energy usage in real-time. The data collected by this software can help companies track the progress of their energy management strategy and alter their goals or address gaps in their EMS.
There are hundreds of different energy management software platforms available. This website provides some insights and details about the most popular systems available. Among the most popular are goby, Energy Elephant, and Energy IP by Siemens.
Next, let us discuss energy storage batteries, specifically the Tesla Powerpack. The Tesla powerpack can help maximize the benefits of an energy management strategy by allowing your company to stockpile energy when electricity prices are at their lowest.
The Tesla Powerpack works by drawing electricity from the grid when demand is low to help your company avoid demand charges that utility companies often charge. The powerpack can also store energy produced by renewables and act as a backup power source in the event of a grid interruption.
If you manage an existing facility, renovations will likely be an important part of your energy management solutions. The goal of renovating older buildings is to decrease “leaks” so that you do not waste energy heating or cooling the great outdoors.
We have alluded to this approach a few times already in this post, but here, we will talk about a few renovation-related options you might have to help maximize your energy management solutions.
Older buildings are either well-insulated or poorly insulated; there is literally no in-between. If you happen to operate a poorly-insulated facility, the best thing you can do for long-term energy management is invest in new insulation.
Insulation works by trapping either hot or cold air inside the building. This helps increase efficiency by stopping leaks and reducing the energy required to heat and cool your space.
Installing energy-efficient windows, similar to insulation, helps to prevent energy “leaks” to the outside world.
Installing Energy Star-rated windows can save your company an average of 12 percent per year on electricity costs. If your facility is located in an extremely hot or cold climate, that number jumps up to 31 percent.
Air source heat pumps are extremely popular in areas with milder climates because they can lower heating and cooling costs by pumping either hot or cold air into or out of, a building depending on the season.
Air pumps work in conjunction with a climate control system to heat or cool spaces. They are particularly useful in multi-dwelling facilities because they can help reduce the chances of overloading the climate control systems.
Green roofs are great for several reasons. They can help regulate the climate surrounding your facility by reducing urban heat islands. They also provide shade, and natural insulation, all of which help decrease the energy-intensity of climate control inside the building.
Green roofs are also aesthetically pleasing, can help absorb pollutants, and act as a carbon sink, so if you are looking for a solution that goes beyond simple energy management, green roofs are a fantastic option.
Cool roofs, like green roofs, are designed to reduce the effects of urban heat islands that can increase cooling costs and energy expenditure. Cool roofs are made of highly reflective materials that literally bounce UV energy (sunlight) back up into the atmosphere so it cannot be absorbed by your building.
This phenomenon is known as the albedo effect, and in essence, cool roofs work by increasing the albedo effect within the vicinity of your facility.
Renewable energy sources are becoming more and more viable, and there are three options that are particularly well suited for multi-dwelling type facilities:
Incorporating any of these three alternative energy sources into your energy management strategy will maximize your EMS.
Solar is becoming more affordable and with industry powerhouses like Tesla and Sunrun, making it a great option for multi-dwelling properties. Whether you are using them to power a hotel, condos, or apartment, it is pretty straightforward to have solar panels installed these days.
If your business is small-scale, creating a solar ecosystem could be a fantastic way to separate your facilities from the electric grid, which will absolutely maximize your energy solutions by putting more control directly into the hands of your operations.
Geothermal energy may not necessarily be economically viable everywhere, but if your facilities are located near geothermal aquifers, it might be a great addition to your energy management strategy.
Several hotels in Nevada are using Geothermal to offset their grid energy demand, which has drastically cut their energy-related bottom-line. In fact, it has saved a hotel in Reno over 2 million dollars a year!
Wind turbines do not have to be massive towers with huge propellers attached. When placed on top of buildings, wind turbines tend to be scaled-down and may even be hardly noticeable. Often, they are designed to be unassuming or look like a work of art.
In fact, the Hilton of fort Lauderdale has installed six turbines on top of the hotel’s roof to generate energy. While these turbines do resemble traditional windmills, they are not nearly as tall because they already benefit from the height of the hotel tower.
Integrating any of these alternative energy sources into your energy management strategy can help save you money on energy costs by helping to free your facilities from the grid and rely less on utility-provided electricity.
Once you have implemented your energy management solutions, you should consider having your facilities certified by either Energy Star or LEED.
These organizations act as accountability partners and resources for companies hoping to implement an energy management strategy. Once your company has met their stipulations, it can be recognized as officially energy-efficient and assigned a corresponding certification.
The certification process typically involves some kind of property inspection conducted by a licensed engineer or registered architect. Most certifications must also be renewed annually. This pushes companies to keep up with new standards and constantly evolve their energy management solutions.
The Environmental Protection Agency-sponsored Energy Star program requires buildings to achieve a score of 75 or higher (on a scale of 1-100) to receive their Energy Star certification.
LEED certifications, on the other hand, are arraigned on a sale as follows:
This means you have to score at least 40 points on the LEED rating system to receive a certification, but LEED also considers sustainability factors beyond energy efficiency.
These certifications help to signal to consumers that you are serious about your commitment to energy management and provides your company with credibility among energy and environmentally-conscious consumers, which brings us to step nine.
Once you are certified, you need to advertise that fact. This should become a part of your branding strategy because it signals to environmentally conscious consumers that your business is in line with their values. Many consumers these days actively seek out energy-conscious brands.
Studies have found that green branding can increase brand loyalty since people concerned about sustainability will be more likely to choose your product over others. That means people who care about the environment will be more likely to stay at your hotel or choose to live in your apartment complex.
Additional studies have found that multi-dwelling properties that incorporate energy-efficient technologies have been able to charge more for their products because they are willing to pay for the peace of mind by staying in a more sustainable accommodation.
Professional branding consultants will be a great resource if you are looking to build a green brand for your company. That said, here are a few ideas that might help you get started:
Once your energy management solutions are in place, your bottom line should decrease, meaning your profit margins will increase. But there are also other benefits to maximizing your energy management solutions and achieving your goals. Examples of the additional benefits include:
Of course, in addition to these benefits, there are also inherent environmental benefits to implementing energy management solutions. While these benefits are harder to quantify and may not directly benefit companies, they are nonetheless a positive outcome of increased energy efficiency.
Implementing energy management solutions at your multi-dwelling facility, be that a hotel, condo, or apartment complex, can reduce your operational bottom-line, increase your profit margin, benefit the environment, and help you retain your tenants and customers long term.
The key to maximizing your energy management solutions is to establish a consistent framework that will increase your facilities’ energy-efficiency while minimizing the possibility of energy waste. Groove Technology Solutions can help you do just that.
Our team of expert technicians know that effective energy management systems monitor and measure energy use, implement the use of innovative technologies, renovate existing infrastructure, and fosters an energy-conscious culture.
The effort you put into an energy management strategy is scalable, depending on your energy management goals and investment capabilities. Even small efforts can have big payoffs by helping to reduce energy waste.
We hope this guide has helped you think through the process of developing and maximizing energy management solutions for your company, facility, or even your home! Get in touch with our experienced team if you want to learn more about how we can help you. We serve all 50 states and pride ourselves in our friendly, fast customer service.