Everyone is increasingly feeling the pressure of rising energy costs, especially those who own and manage property. The second annual Minnesota Real Estate Journal Commercial Building Energy Summit offered insights into how property owners and managers can take easy steps to decrease energy expenses, regaining control of their buildings and their bottom line.
Many buildings can achieve a 15% reduction in consumption without any capital investment. According to Priscilla Koeckeritz of Energy Print, Inc., a St. Paul based company that provides energy management software and services, energy expenses are rising faster than any other building operating expense, at a rate of 6-8% annually. The 5 million existing commercial buildings in the US spend $200 billion annually to power their facilities. Participation in energy-reduction programs like EPA’s Energy Star can easily result in energy savings of 30%, reducing total energy costs from an average of $2.33 per square foot to $1.63 per square foot.
Conference attendees indicated that they have spent more time tracking energy data in the past year than ever before. Koeckeritz explains that “energy cannot be managed, if energy information is not measured.” Energy Print provides a tool for owners and asset managers that automatically collects consumption data from utilities and normalizes it based on weather conditions. Energy usage can then be compared historically for a property or amongst an entire portfolio, so that investors can target capital expenditures towards their worst performing assets. The “3 C’s of cost, consumption, and carbon” for an entire portfolio can be tracked and reduced from a user-friendly website. Koeckeritz cites that in addition to reducing expenses, building owners who market their efforts properly can see additional return in the form of increased occupancy rates, typically around 4.1% higher for LEED certified buildings and 3.6% for Energy Star rated buildings.