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By David Lewellen
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KeyBank wasn't aiming for LEED certification when it began to make upgrades to two office buildings in Brooklyn, Ohio, totaling 740,000 square feet. But advice from its outsourced service provider, Johnson Controls, helped the bank not only reduce costs, but also achieve LEED-EBOM Platinum certification.
When upgrades at the Brooklyn buildings began in 2010, the site, which dates from the mid-'90s, was "not in terrible shape," says Rob Davenport, customer business director for Johnson Controls. "But we knew there was some tweaking that could be done."
There were some big-ticket items, like an upgrade to the building management system (BMS) and air balancing. But, Davenport says, "Energy savings are not that complicated when you simply flip a switch. We did a lot of that." Steps included replacing incandescent lamps with LEDs and connecting motion sensors to stairwell lights.
Richard Estremera, KeyBank's senior vice president for critical sites and national operations, says that Key budgets money every year for building efficiency, but the outsourced service provider "helped us to be more strategic about the investments we were going to make anyway." The roughly $750,000 that Key spent on the Brooklyn campus was "low-hanging fruit, low cost, lots of opportunity," he says.
LEED certification was not part of the goal, Estremera says; in 2010, banks did not want to be perceived as doing anything that wasn't their core business. But "the incremental cost has brought back twofold, threefold savings," Estremera says. "I remember hearing that with my mouth open."
"Platinum was an afterthought," Davenport agrees. "No money was spent with the intent to get LEED certification," but results were immediate as the BMS upgrade and air balancing were completed. "We began to see utility reductions immediately."
Six of the outsourcing firm's employees work at the Key campus on two shifts, and the companies talk "every day, over weekends, at Easter, Christmas, New Year's," Estremera says, who says that his company's workers can't tell if a facility staffer is a Key employee or works for the outsourced service provider.
Although many facility managers are looking for a service provider with expertise in energy efficiency, that doesn't mean one size fits all when it comes to meeting facility managers' needs. To reduce energy costs, a service provider needs to combine expertise in energy efficiency with ability to understand the specific characteristics of a client. For example, people at different companies may respond to different incentives, says Brian Barmmer, director of energy sustainability solutions for DTZ, which provides a variety of real estate and facility management services. He says that a tech company full of young workers running lava lamps at their desks may respond better to a game-style approach than to an edict from above.
There are other variables besides organizational culture when dealing with the needs of facility managers, Barmmer says: "In some cases, changing light bulbs might not be the best approach, because of how long you're going to hold the asset." But connecting real-time meters to the building automation system can bring quicker results, he says — as can something as simple as cleaning the building during the day, which could save both on lighting costs and on shift differential payments.
— David Lewellen
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