Real Estate Journal — Green Buildings — February 27 - March 12, 2015 — 13B


M id A tlantic

G reen B uildings By Catherine Zelenkofske, WegoWise Avoid utility spikes with energy benchmarking

s n o w f a l l pounding the U.S., many b u i l d i n g owners are looking close- ly at their en- ergy usage. Catching en- ergy spikes is important to W

tion’s water consumption, a multifamily property owner noticed that one building had water usage twice as high as the other buildings over six months. Maintenance staff took a look at the building and determined that there was an underground water leak that was undetectable to the ten- ants. They fixed the leak and now save $1,500 a month on water costs. Worn out toilet flappers can also be a common leak that most residents won’t realize without a noticeable puddle on the ground. A running

toilet wastes hundreds of dol- lars and hundreds of gallons of water. Another property owner identified this common problem and found that one leaking toilet was costing an additional $700 per month because the flapper was old and worn out. EnergySpikes andQA’ing New Construction What about overall energy spikes? These impact aging building stock, but can hap- pen in new construction as well. Homeowner’s Rehab, Inc. (HRI), a multifamily housing developer, started monitoring

usage. Unfortunately, the following winter brought even stranger peaking. Based on the data, and the high number of over- heating calls received from their tenants, they sent a heating contractor into the building. The contractor de- termined that all of the ther- mostatic radiator valves in the tenant units (which allow them to control heat flow) were stuck open. HRI re- ceived new valves from the manufacturer and enjoyed two winters of normal usage. continued on page 15B

ith some of the cold- est temperatures and record-setting

energy usage in a new LEED- certifiable project and soon noticed that its usage was all over the place—spiking, crash- ing, and then spiking again— and much higher than the usage of other LEED-certified projects in the database. Curi- ous, they sent a commissioning agent into the building. The agent found that the high- efficiency condensing boilers weren’t condensing because there wasn’t enough pressure in the gas line, so HRI con- tacted the utility and asked them to correct the issue. Then they sat back and watched the

Catherine Zelenkofske

decrease utility costs, improve ROI/NOI, and prioritize ret- rofits, but it shouldn’t just be done in the dead of winter. See how common utility manage- ment issues can be identified at any time of year through energy benchmarking and monitoring. An immediate benefit of tracking your water and en- ergy use is catching extreme variances in usage. In the energy efficiency world, it’s called “spike tracking.” Spikes are sudden jumps in utility consumption that are very easy to notice when you’re continually monitoring usage, but might go overlooked oth- erwise. Spikes indicate that something is awry, and catch- ing one means that you can respond to a problem quickly, whether it is a billing error from the utility or something going wrong in your building. These three case studies show just how frequent the problem can be and what you can do to avoid or correct these common pitfalls. Uncovering Billing Errors A housing authority with a portfolio of 300 buildings was tasked with getting a handle on their utilities. Upon adding their gas accounts into Wego- Wise, an online utility track- ing platform, they noticed that one building had suspiciously high usage. It turns out that they had been incorrectly billed for 15,000 therms for one day, when their typical monthly usage was no more than 50 therms. They con- tacted their utility company, the mistake was corrected, and they were refunded the $4,500 they had paid. It’s easy for billing errors to go unnoticed when you sim- ply receive and pay your bills each month, but benchmark- ing and visualizing the data immediately shows if there’s something wrong. Undetectable Water Leaks By tracking her organiza-

Utility expenses eat up ~ 30% of your building’s operations budget. Utility expens s can eat up 30% of your building’s operations budget

Wouldn’t it be great to get some of that back?

WegoWise is an affordable online tool that helps property owners, managers, and investors improve the energy and water efficiency of their portfolios and increase NOI. With WegoWise, you can: • Retrieve utility data automatically • Organize and report on energy usage in a central platform • Prioritize retrofits and energy upgrades Real estate is a risky business. Tackle the biggest segment of operational risk by getting a handle on your utility expenses.

Visit www.WegoWise.com/signup today for a free 30-day trial.

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