Report: Modest adoptions of energy efficient technologies lead to significant cost savings

July 3, 2012

The use of energy efficient practices and technologies can help a building owner limit the overall operating costs for a structure. This, along with helping to increase the property value, has made even modest efficiency improvements to a property worth the upfront expenditure.

A report that was presented at the Building Owners Management Association (BOMA) International's Every Building conference in Seattle, Washington, noted that even slight improvements will lead to results that make the alterations worthwhile.

Commercial Property Executive noted that the report, delivered by Patty Anderson, of a Seattle-based consulting firm, showed building owners and modest energy efficient upgrades would support stronger net operating incomes.

Anderson noted that buildings are likely to become 3-to-5 percent less efficient each year if some type of proactive effort to improve performance is not enacted by owners and managers. Energy use needs to be tracked in order to start measuring how the system operates. This highlights the need for installing smart grid meters and other technologies that examine output and usage levels.

According to the news outlet, the consultant also pointed to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories study that indicated investments amounting to as little as $2 per square foot may generate energy savings of 4 percent and overall operational cost savings of 4 percent.

Practical considerations can promote the change instead of building certifications, noted Anderson.

"Performance validation is what sells, not just (rating system) certification," said the consultant, who added that tenants are much more attracted to properties that limit costs, consumption and waste.

This notion that certification systems, like those most recently updated by the U.S. Green Building Council, according to the Yale Environment blog, will not promote change is challenged by some.

The Living Building Challenge is gaining stature as the most stringent standard for green building in the world, according to the news outlet.

"When teams start to ask their suppliers for every ingredient of every product, the message moves up the chain," noted Amanda Sturgeon, program director for the effort. "We’re starting to see manufacturers that are more transparent about what’s in their products."

The USGBC is not the only agency trying to promote change in the sector, as the U.S. Department of Energy created the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) to revolutionize the retrofitting sector in the commercial real estate market.