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Benchmarking – more than just a compliance chore

Mandatory benchmarks are impacting sales and leases, know your number and take steps now to set your building apart.

Energy Projects Decision California’s required building benchmarking ordinance (AB1103) can be seen as cumbersome and intrusive to a real estate transaction but when a benchmark is viewed as a valuable tool, it can be the used to enhance marketing appeal, illuminate energy savings, and increase a building’s value. The U.S. EPA found an average energy savings of 2.4 percent per year in buildings that consistently benchmark their energy use.*

Benchmarking uses Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager Software to compare your building’s energy usage to similar buildings and generates a benchmark score. This score is a good but basic indication of how your building is doing compared to others. This information can be very empowering to property/facility managers as a snapshot of the energy use effectiveness and then open discussions for savings opportunities. When benchmarks are adopted as a regularly used tool, very effective information can be created. Information like; knowing the “score” before and after any energy project to determine effectiveness, showcasing ongoing energy efficiency to a prospective buyer or tenant, or demonstrating increased building value by reducing operating costs. For instance, a 100,000-square-foot building that reduces its energy costs by 10 percent, say from $2.00 per square foot to $1.80 per square foot, increases its net operating income by $20,000 and building value at an 8 percent cap rate by $250,000.

To make benchmarking easier, COAC can step you through the process. We have benchmarked dozens of buildings in this region and can easily navigate the convoluted process for you. Whether your need is immediate, for a closing transaction, or a longer term program of benchmarking to identity savings opportunities or validate energy saving projects, COAC Energy Services can take care of it for you. Our website has an easy way to get the benchmark process started or you can email Bill Schmalzel directly to get started.

R-22 Refrigerant Supply Reduced 57% in 2015

Significant increase in costs, likely delays in availability, and challenges in conversion – Change is coming

R-22 Refrigerant Supply infographic
The EPA’s updated phase-out schedule for R-22 refrigerant was recently described as an “Aggressive Linear Reduction”, reducing the amount available next year by 57%. In 2014, there was 51 million pounds of R-22 available on the market. In less than 2 months (2015) there will be only 22 million pounds available with steep reductions each year thereafter. The eventual plan is to have production and importation of R-22 eliminated by 2020.

How does this affect you?

The bulk of the commercial buildings in Sacramento still have HVAC units that use the R-22 refrigerant. If you have equipment that is 8-10 years old or older then it is most likely using R-22. As the supply radically declines, the first effect felt will be the cost of repairs will climb significantly. The next probable challenge will just be having enough R-22 when needed. As supplies dwindle, hoarding and limitations on the size of orders will affect repair times, especially in the critical summer months.

Conversion vs. Replacement?

There are R-22 alternatives on the market but they introduce other significant challenges to future repairs, unit effectiveness (how much cooling it can generate) and life expectancy. If conditioned air is critical to running the business and R-22 is not available then an alternative refrigerant will be needed, or the entire system will need to be changed to use 410A (more ecofriendly refrigerant) which can have installation lead times of 1 week to 2 months, causing further difficulties. The decision to convert or replace is a complex matrix of factors that include expected unit life, ownership and tenant requirements, and the remaining-life cost of ownership to name just a few. Replacing your unit is not a matter of if, but is just a matter of when and the EPA’s new policy may force you to accelerate your plans.

Planning for Change

There is no pat answer to the vexing question of when to repair versus replace, but COAC can help guide you and run the numbers on various scenarios so that you can make an educated, well-deliberated decision that fits your business needs. We want to help you avoid those desperate situations, when a replacement is not available for a few weeks or months, and you have to make short-term decisions that can cause more damage to your system, your building, your tenant comfort and your reputation.

EPA Article – Read More