Case study : Multi-billion real estate investment firm finds several million dollars in annual savings with EnerNOC

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Courtesy of EnerNOC, Inc.

The Organization

Beacon Capital Partners, LLC is a private real estate investment firm active in the development, owning, and operation of commercial real estate assets. Beacon’s investments total over $30 billion. The company’s investment strategy focuses on office buildings located in a select number of target markets that are primarily urban, knowledge-based economies.

Beacon has made a strong commitment to sustainable operations—over 22 million square feet of the Beacon Portfolio is LEED Certified and Beacon has an energy policy to achieve the ENERGY STAR label at 100% of its properties.

Fast Facts

Industry:
Commercial Real Estate

Locations:
Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Chicago, and Denver

Portfolio Size:
30 million square feet

Number of Sites:
45

The Opportunity

Energy is a critical concern for Beacon as part of its sustainability initiatives and a continuing drive to reduce costs. In order to actively manage energy across the portfolio, Al Scaramelli, Managing Director, wanted to be able to analyze real time energy usage to find opportunities to reduce energy cost through low or no-cost changes.

The Solution

Beacon Capital is enrolled in EnerNOC’s demand response programs in the U.S., creating a valuable revenue stream in exchange for agreeing to reduce energy consumption during times of peak demand. But demand response was just the tip of the iceberg. As part of its enrollment in demand response, Beacon received EnerNOC’s powerful energy intelligence software (EIS) platform, which gave Scaramelli access to real time energy data at all Beacon properties. Leveraging the EIS data gave Scaramelli the insight he needed to identify energy savings anomalies and take corrective actions that lead to significant energy savings at a number of Beacon’s office properties. Encouraged by the results, Scaramelli was eager to experience those results throughout the portfolio, but in order to do so, he recognized he would need additional tools and a team of people trained to identify the highest impact energy savings opportunities. Scaramelli decided to team with EnerNOC's professional services team and unlock more EIS functionality to parlay energy savings ideas across a large portfolio of sites.

EnerNOC's EIS platform leverages powerful real-time data and robust reporting capabilities to systematically identify potential energy savings opportunities across a portfolio of Beacon’s properties. EnerNOC’s team of energy analysts periodically reviews the data to mine the highest impact operational Energy Efficiency Measures (EEMs). The team then works collaboratively with Beacon and the property managers and engineers to provide workable efficiency recommendations that will be tracked through to implementation.

The Results

Using EnerNOC’s real-time electricity data, Scaramelli and the EnerNOC team have identified significant energy savings, optimizing how much energy is consumed and when it is consumed to drive down overall costs. “The results have been amazing. We’ve been able to save several million dollars a year.” Three early examples of EEMs include:

Smart Morning Startup

While most Building Management Systems (BMS) are programmed for timed morning startups, Scaramelli found that they were not necessarily focused on optimizing costs. “The ‘optimum start’ feature of BMS or EMS was actually, in many cases, non optimal,” said Scaramelli. For one of Beacon’s buildings in particular, the HVAC system was coming on throughout the night, between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m., and hitting the desired space temperature within 60 minutes. The tenants, however, were not arriving at the building until 7:00 a.m. Scaramelli asked the building engineer to make an adjustment, and now the system kicks on much later, between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. Scaramelli continued to make this change across 80-90% of Beacon’s buildings, and the savings have been significant.

Energy Coasting

Beacon’s properties are contractually obligated to deliver conditioned air within a certain temperature band to tenants during operating hours. Scaramelli experimented with shutting down the air-conditioning equipment before the lease hours ended— switching off chillers, cooling tower fans, and compressors—while keeping the air blowing into the tenant spaces. What he found was that the temperature stayed well within the contracted band for a significant period of time, but the energy savings achieved by shutting down the cooling equipment earlier were extremely advantageous. For one building alone, Scaramelli saw 1050 kW savings for one hour, which amounted to $30,000 in annual savings for that property.

Eliminate Nighttime Baseload

Another Beacon building in Washington, DC, had federal employees working in it from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. When looking at his real-time energy data, however, Scaramelli noticed a significant load plateau each day that lasted until 10:00 p.m., in spite of the fact that the building was empty most days by 7:00 p.m. After 10:00 p.m., the load dropped by 400 kW. The building’s chief engineer was adamant that there were fixed reasons for this. There were cooling operations that went on during the night and emergency lighting added to nighttime load, however the kW did not seem to add up. With the electricity data in front of him, Scaramelli knew that something was not right. He asked the building engineer to check and he found that a chiller was actually set to run until 10:00 p.m. every night.

A few months prior to his discovery, a tenant had asked for some overtime HVAC, and the chiller’s turn-off was set to 10:00 p.m., but then never set back to 6:00 p.m. Once this had been caught, Scaramelli could clearly see the next day’s baseload dropping at 6:00 p.m. like it should have been all along. Within 30 days, over $200,000 of annual savings were identified as part of Scaramelli’s key energy initiatives.

The Future

The Beacon team is resolving issues and achieving goals with a consistent process, based around monthly meetings with their EnerNOC engineer. “Before this came along,” said Scaramelli, “we were just blind. We had very limited data about what was going on inside our buildings.”

EnerNOC's energy intelligence software is now in place throughout nearly all of Beacon’s properties across the United States.

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