Facility Managers Use Outsourcing Providers For Core Competency In Energy Efficiency
One important reason facility managers use outsourcing providers is because those providers have a core competency in energy efficiency. A case in point is the Los Angeles Convention Center.
A few years ago, the Los Angeles Convention Center had a problem it didn't recognize. The center air-conditions its 4 million square feet of space with two sizes of chilled-water pumps. When the 30-horsepower pump couldn't handle the load, a 75-horsepower pump would kick in — but if the required load was only 40 horsepower, energy was being wasted.
The inefficiency was spotted by an engineer with the outsourced provider that manages the facility. The firm was able to program the larger pump to run at variable speeds, without retrofitting equipment. That tweak, along with many more, helped the convention center jump from certified to Gold-level LEED-EBOM (Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance) certification in 2010.
Facility managers can outsource a wide variety of facility services, from cleaning to security to day-to-day operations. Facility managers who have developed ongoing relationships with companies that specialize in energy efficiency say that the providers' expertise can aid in reducing energy costs while providing other benefits, like helping to improve investment decisions and gaining recognition for sustainable performance.
One of the most important of those benefits, and one cited by many facility managers, is summed up in the words "core competency."
"Our focus is on owning and managing real estate," says Doug Hoffman, president of BPG Management Co., which manages 9 million square feet of office space along the East Coast. BPG uses EMCOR Group for ongoing mechanical and maintenance needs, as well as energy management. "I feel that outsourcing saves money in the long run. I don't want to have to hire a staff of 15 engineers and a vice president to supervise them."
For better energy management, he says, "we want to turn to someone whose mission in life is finding inefficiencies," and has the technical resources to fix them. If a building's costs are out of line, Hoffman says, BPG calls the service provider to "figure out better ways of doing things."
Hoffman says that when the move toward sustainability began gathering momentum five or six years ago, "we were pretty skeptical." But, he says, the savings are real, which is important in the competitive real-estate industry. While a 25-year-old facility might not have been built to be as efficient as one built last year, operating more efficiently is not hard, Hoffman says. "Ten percent is a no-brainer," he says, but beyond that, BPG turns to its outsourced service provider for advice.
Don Newell, director of energy services for EMCOR Mechanical & Facilities Services, a division of EMCOR Group, says that the usual goal is 10 percent savings with low-cost or no-cost modifications. One such step, Newell says, is schedule verification and compliance for major pieces of equipment — that is, ensuring that a unit's run schedule matches the requirement of the space. Another measure is to verify temperature set points, making sure that they are neither too cold in summer nor too warm in winter, Newell says.
Saving energy is more than a matter of adjusting equipment. "We're peeling off the layers of the onion to see what's truly possible," says Newell. "It's behavioral science, to get people to want to do things more efficiently."