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A few years ago, Congress passed the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, under which commercial building tenants that met design criteria set by EPA were to be eligible for recognition. To get started, EPA piloted a recognition program for energy-efficient tenant spaces starting in the fall of 2017. The program was based on five energy efficiency criteria that were within the control of office building tenants and that would have the biggest impact on their energy use. Tenants had to demonstrate that they had: estimated their energy use, metered their energy use, lit their space efficiently, used efficient equipment, and agreed to track and share their energy data with their landlord. (This last criterion enables landlords to perform whole-building benchmarking and identify opportunities for efficiency.) In the end, more than 50 tenants earned “Energy Star Charter Tenant Space” recognition, including companies such as Samsung, Morgan Stanley, Salesforce, LinkedIn, and Verizon.
One such tenant, CodeGreen Solutions, enrolled its Manhattan headquarters in the 10-month pilot program. In New York City, commercial building energy use is responsible for 70 percent of city-wide emissions, and tenants drive 40 to 60 percent of this energy use. When deciding to participate in the pilot, CodeGreen noted that in order to meaningfully reduce carbon emissions in large cities around the world, commercial tenants must get involved.
As a participant in the program, CodeGreen evaluated its operating procedures, surveyed office equipment and lighting, and tracked monthly sub-metered electricity consumption using Portfolio Manager. As a result, the company was able to identify areas of high performance and those with opportunity for improvement and is now reevaluating its lighting needs and researching the latest in lighting and controls technology.
With a successful pilot completed, EPA is now preparing to roll out a formal tenant recognition program in the fall. While details are still being worked out, it’s expected to be similar to last year’s pilot program. At Energy Star's website, you can learn more about Energy Star Tenant Space recognition.
“Fill the Treasure Chest” campaign
Well over a decade ago, Bruce Bremer was a facilities engineer for Toyota North America, an Energy Star Partner. While there, he came up with the concept of an “energy treasure hunt.” The idea was simple: gather team members from all corners of a facility and spend a couple days walking around searching for wasted energy. Once complete, quantify the potential savings and make a plan for implementation. Since Bremer’s first treasure hunt in 2005, hundreds of industrial organizations have used energy treasure hunts to reduce their facilities’ energy use by 7 to 15 percent.
Take Merck & Company, a pharmaceutical manufacturer that began using energy treasure hunts as part of its strategy to engage plants, train staff, and identify energy-saving opportunities. In less than two years, Merck energy treasure hunts had identified more than $12 million in potential savings from just five plants — equivalent to 20 percent of the company’s greenhouse gas reduction goal — while raising employee awareness and enthusiasm for finding energy waste.
The apparel manufacturer HanesBrands has successfully rolled out energy treasure hunts across its plants worldwide. Energy treasure hunts have resulted in a behavioral shift in how the organization thinks about energy use and helped HanesBrands to reduce energy costs by more than $4 million in a single year.
Building off the experience manufacturing companies have had with treasure hunts, this year EPA is introducing energy treasure hunts to commercial buildings through its “Fill the Treasure Chest” campaign. Any commercial building can participate by holding its own energy treasure hunt and reporting its potential savings to EPA. EPA is hoping to have hundreds of facility teams “fill the treasure chest” with their potential savings to demonstrate the impact every organization can have through relatively simple measures.
The goal is to have treasure hunts taking place during the “Energy Action Month” of October, and potential savings reported by the end of 2019. Go to energystar.gov/treasurehunt to find all the resources needed to plan for and hold an energy treasure hunt, including a four-page how-to guide, “treasure maps” for different types of buildings (print them out and take them along on the hunt), videos, and an Excel worksheet that will help quantify the opportunities discovered. It’s important to get the treasure hunt on the calendar soon. EPA recommends gathering five to ten people for a one or two day treasure hunt, so it may take several months to find a time that works for everyone.
Jean Lupinacci (firstname.lastname@example.org) is chief, Energy Star Commercial and Industrial Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
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