Updated ENERGY STAR scores were released on August 26, after a long-overdue revision of the scoring baseline. For many real estate sectors, the current 2003 data set used for benchmarking was replaced by a 2012 set that reflects the fact that buildings have steadily become more energy efficient. For NYC buildings, the new scores are doubly significant. Local Law 33 mandates that the ENERGY STAR score will be the basis of the NYC letter grade, which will be posted by every entrance from 2020.
The EPA had estimated that in the office sector, scores would decline on average by 12 percent. Some building owners and managers have seen greater declines – while some proactive owners may register improvements.
Getting your score back up now that the evaluation method is more stringent will require a different way of looking at existing buildings. In the past, “low-hanging fruit” measures such as lighting retrofits, scheduling, and efficient sourcing were sufficient, but today, buildings have to be evaluated holistically, explains Max Lamirande.
Often, energy projects are implemented in a piecemeal fashion; each measure is looked at individually and the building is not considered as a whole. The results can be substandard performance, variable costs, or even discomfort for building occupants. Here’s an example — when VFDs are installed on pumps or fans without considering the equipment or distribution of the building, the result can be a lack of pressurization in the ductwork (not enough air getting to end users) or equipment like chillers running less efficiently. Or this. Many NYC building owners are considering heat pumps – it’s true that they can increase the efficiency of a building tremendously if well designed, but given the high cost of electricity, the trade-off may be higher OPEX.
Looking at a building holistically means understanding how the building operates, from source energy (electricity, oil, gas or steam) to end-user requirements. This means understanding the issues that end-users are having, how the building operators run the building, and how the entire energy infrastructure is designed. These factors, and their interactions, define a building’s energy ecosystem.
The right solution will be uncovered by looking at your building holistically. This is how I see the process:
By following this process, you may be able to achieve higher-efficiency buildings without sacrificing tenant comfort or increasing OPEX.
Max Lamirande is a Senior Project Development Engineer in Ecosystem’s NYC office, focusing on commercial real estate clients.
To learn more about taking a holistic approach to raise your Energy Star score, Contact Ecosystem Business Development Managers
O: 646-692-7800 x 6244