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Building Operating Management

Better Buildings Challenge SWAP: Fresh Set Of Eyes on Energy Efficiency

Hilton and Whole Foods Market examine each others' energy efficiency strategies, find new opportunities.

By Naomi Millán, Senior Editor March 2017 - Energy Efficiency   Article Use Policy

One way to spot opportunities for energy upgrades in your facility might be to get a fresh set of eyes on the situation. That’s the idea behind the Better Buildings Challenge SWAP from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), now in its second season. The online “show” takes its cues from reality television. In each season, two teams from different organizations perform walkthroughs in each other’s spaces to spot potential for energy efficiency gains and share recommendations for improvement.

In the first season, teams from energy efficiency superstars Hilton and Whole Foods Market examined each other’s strategies. The Hilton team was impressed with knee controls for sinks in the kitchen at a Whole Foods location in San Francisco, but spotted a cooler door that needed gasketing. When it was the Whole Foods team’s turn, they were impressed by the Hilton team’s motivation strategies for their staff at the San Francisco Union Square property, but suggested that some lighting could be switched to LED, or eliminated.

While the format of the show is fun, it might be a little tricky for facility managers to replicate it exactly in their lives. Brian Mork, director of property operations at the San Francisco Hilton, says facility managers should leverage networking opportunities available through professional organizations, such as BOMA. He actually already knew one of the Whole Foods team members from a board they both sat on, and had shared ideas by email in the past for strategies that might work in each other’s spaces.

“There’s always some hesitation when you let somebody in,” says Mork. Everyone has projects on a to do list, after all. “But at the end of the day we’re all trying to accomplish the same goals. Get out there with your counterparts and swap ideas.”


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