Improving Building's Energy Performance Brings Additional Benefits As Well
And while improving a building's performance may take some work, that effort will bring twin benefits. One, of course, is to identify cost-saving measures, says Santamaria. But there's another gain. In the process of identifying opportunities to improve energy efficiency, facility managers are also looking at the HVAC systems and how they are affecting tenant comfort, which has a direct correlation with tenant satisfaction as well as tenant retention.
Excuse: I know my building is energy efficient, so I don't need Energy Star.
Everyone has heard the phrase: You can't manage what you don't measure. That applies as much to energy efficient buildings as ones that aren't efficient, say experts. For facility managers to manage their buildings effectively, says Santamaria, "they need to have in place a good, user-friendly way of tracking and benchmarking their buildings' energy use."
Facility managers also need to have an objective way of seeing whether their buildings are actually operating efficiently. "How do you know your building is energy efficient?" asks Audin. "You must have a benchmark to determine this. You can put in all kinds of fancy new equipment, and it can operate poorly. Just because you install energy-efficient equipment, that does not mean your building is more energy efficient — it needs to run well, and you need a benchmark to determine whether it is running well."
Audin cites an instance where a facility consisting of a classroom and office space was using a lot of energy. "Someone had bypassed all the points on the energy management system," so the lights weren't being turned off and the HVAC system wasn't operated as intended. This happens "more often than you'd like," he says. "If you don't recommission every year or two, these kinds of things add up. You have to go look and see if anything is out of whack."
Angela Maas is a writer who covers facility management issues. She was formerly managing editor of Building Operating Management.