In recent years, market forces and simple economics have refocused the attention of commercial real estate owners and management practitioners on energy conservation as a compelling driver of overall asset performance.
"This trend toward more sophisticated energy management practices goes hand in hand with the recent push to reduce our carbon footprints,” said Jerry Jacquét, principal at Meissner Jacquét Investment Management Services. “Energy conservation and efficiency not only help reduce operating overhead, but can also increase asset value.”
Responding to a growing interest among its clients in energy conservation and sustainable building practices, Meissner Jacquét has added LEED AP, Randy Walsh to its staff as director of energy management and sustainability.
“Strategic energy management fits seamlessly into the property management function,” Walsh said. “Our elevated focus brings an additional element of measurement and verification, including energy audits, that go beyond typical commercial property management services.”
Energy audits are classified into four levels based on scope, depth and range: from Level 1 for a general walk-through evaluation; to Level 4 which is a comprehensive, Investment Grade audit. Audit elements can include operational procedures, operating hours, building tenant/population count, lighting, cooling, heating, pumps, motors, compressors, temperatures, controls, window glazing, insulation, building envelop, day-lighting and more.
In-depth audits can identify a wide array of opportunities to conserve. More importantly, they can generate a list of recommended energy conservation measures specific to that property which could include retrofits, upgrades, or simple retro-commissioning. “Lighting and HVAC, based on their power draw, typically offer the biggest opportunities for reduction and savings,” Walsh said.
Armed with extensive, energy audit information, Meissner Jacquét creates customized energy conservation plans that often include behavioral changes for building occupants, operational improvements, and fixture and mechanical retrofits.
“An aggressive energy conservation, measurement and verification program can reduce a building’s energy use by up to 30 percent,” Walsh said. “In this economy, even a 10 to 15 percent reduction in monthly energy costs pays huge dividends for building owners and investors.”
According to Meissner Jacquét, the process of reducing energy costs begins with understanding the elements of each property’s monthly electric bill and rate classifications. Analyzing usage patterns further identifies opportunities for savings. Establishing a baseline of energy performance with a tool like Energy Star Portfolio Manager provides a third-data point against which building performance can be compared.