Improving facility efficiency is part of the job description for building managers, and energy benchmarking is one of the best ways to do it. That is, of course, unless those managers don't have the funds or the technology to implement energy benchmarking practices. For building maintenance managers of multi-tenant facilities, the task can be especially challenging.
Benefits and hurdles
Energy benchmarking involves regular review of a building's utility usage, with a steady progression of efficiency improvements to ultimately reach a set goal. That objective could a be a specific monthly utility cost, or simply a reduction in the amount of energy used, both of which usually go hand-in-hand.
The difficulty for multi-tenant buildings comes with triple-net-leases, or when tenants must cover their share of building maintenance costs. Tenants with these kinds of leases may have separate metering, meaning separate energy usage reports that building managers may not be able to access. The result is a dilemma of both coordination and cooperation, as building managers must work to get every one of its tenants on board an energy efficiency program if there is to be any success.
This issue reached a head as recently as last season, when major cities across the country passed mandates requiring energy-benchmarking standards of buildings in their jurisdiction, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. Proponents of the law believe that such European-style laws would improve facilities, lower operation costs and ultimately strengthen property values. However, critics point to the difficulty of meeting such standards for multi-tenant buildings.
"In instances where utility providers can't disclose such data directly to landlords, the steep hurdle of obtaining waivers and data from tenants could render such laws ineffective for large portions of the commercial-building stock," said Will Teichman, director of sustainability at Kimco Reality Corp, according to the source.
Facility managers may want to take note of this issue - it could be the case that they are required to employ energy benchmarking techniques in the future, and it would be best to be prepared.
Building managers of multi-tenant facilities need to be especially organized when it comes to energy benchmarking, as they may have to convince tenants of the value of energy efficiency measures. Once persuaded, managers must then coordinate efforts to report data usage and cut down on utility consumption, whether through installing new technologies or setting up guidelines for smarter energy practices. Only through this kind of teamwork can a manager reduce energy waste.
Coordination of that scale can be difficult, but it can be made easier. Energy tracking software such as UtilityTrac makes all that tracking and organizing a cinch. The software lets users measure utilities, ranging from electricity and gas to Internet, oil and water. With all of this data gathered, managers can then set benchmarks based on their current energy usage. As time goes on, they will have better readings on their utilities, and can make even more accurate plans for meeting goals.
In terms of benchmarking, one of UtilityTrac's best features is the ability to keep informed of Energy Star metrics as well as LEED programs. If managers ever wonder how well they are actually doing, they need only refer to those standards for new objectives.