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Energy Star's Portfolio Manager Is Important Tool For Munich Re's Energy Efficiency Efforts

By Naomi Millán, Senior Editor - February 2014 - Energy Efficiency


Successes with smaller projects have made pursuing larger capital projects possible. For example, $4 million in capital projects were packaged to replace a 25-year old DOS-based BAS, as well as to do an extensive lighting and related controls retrofit of the 2x2 fixtures, and replace the chiller plant in Plaza 2. The energy efficiency gains of these upgrades save Munich Re about $1 million a year in electricity costs. To help guide system selection in large projects like that, Walinski says he used a bit of reverse engineering. Instead of selecting what looked to be the best system and then hoping it would deliver the necessary energy savings, Walinski says he went into Energy Star Portfolio Manager and kept dropping the energy use numbers until the score came out at 75. He wanted to see what it would take, he says, and it gave him a sense of the kinds of products he should be looking at. It also helped to steer conversations with vendors on the required performance of systems under consideration.

Some aspects of the BAS/lighting/chiller retrofit project could have been launched a little sooner, but were purposefully delayed by a few months so the project could participate in the Pay for Performance program (P4P) from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the state's first comprehensive commercial and industrial energy efficiency incentive program, which launched in March 2009. To participate in P4P, a company's energy reduction plan had to define a comprehensive package of measures capable of reducing the existing energy consumption of a building by 15 percent or more, says Lupica.

Originally, Lupica's team had been working with the New Jersey Office of Clean Energy and asked for a sit down meeting to understand available prescriptive options for energy efficiency projects. During that meeting it came to light that the state had a program that was approved and almost funded which would fit nicely with what Munich Reinsurance America was proposing to do. Lupica's team was able to get in on the ground floor of the program, and was the first campus to be selected, says Walinski. The rebate came in at $1.4 million, reducing Munich Reinsurance America's out-of-pocket outlay to $2.6 million.

At the time, people were saying the numbers looked too good to be true, says Walinski. But Lupica's team takes considerable effort to pursue available financial incentives. "We have mined millions in external funding for these projects just by harvesting them," Lupica says. "Go look for them; there's money out there to be had. You add that to the savings and these projects pay for themselves in a very short period of time."

Another example of homework paying off: For the solar canopy project, Munich Reinsurance America was awarded a $5 million rebate from the Treasury Department.

More Bang for Construction Buck

The public face of Munich Reinsurance America's campus sustainability and energy efficiency ethos is a 2.4 MW parking lot solar canopy installation, which became fully operational in October 2012. The system, designed to complement the aesthetics of the campus, has a 3.1 GWH/year maximum capacity and reached 89 percent performance at the one-year mark. The energy generated saves Munich Reinsurance America $500,000 a year on electricity, says Paul Lupica, head of facilities, and they have so far been able to sell two packages of solar RECs (renewable energy credits) for $400,000 in additional revenue.

While the parking lot was ripped up for the canopy project, Lupica's team also got a chance to take a step that doesn't save money, but was the right thing to do, says Lupica. They installed 100,000 cubic feet of groundwater recharge chambers, which allow the storm water the canopy catches to infiltrate back into the soil before it has a chance to be polluted with surface contaminants.

— Naomi Millán





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