Benchmarked, a new energy blog series, examining local businesses who have used EPA’s Portfolio Manager to track energy use.
Name and Title: Matt Praske, Energy and Sustainability Project Manager
How many buildings do you manage? 60
What kinds of building uses are in your buildings? Multi-tenant office, multifamily, and retail
When did your company begin benchmarking? 2007
Why did you begin benchmarking? WRIT began benchmarking with three goals in mind: (1) To better understand each building’s current energy performance, as the 1-100 score helps provide context that raw energy data doesn’t offer; (2) To have a common metric to track building performance over time; and (3) To compare buildings within our portfolio in order to identify low performers and pursue opportunities for improvement.
Who has done and/or currently does your benchmarking in Portfolio Manager? Over the course of our benchmarking efforts, WRIT’s Energy and Sustainability Department has managed the benchmarking efforts for all properties. The department has a team of three who coordinate with the Property Managers and Building Engineers for the collection of the appropriate building characteristics and energy use data. The Energy and Sustainability Department is responsible for uploading the data and reviewing the building profile for accuracy.
How has benchmarking your energy use changed the way you manage your portfolio? What do you do now that you didn’t do before? Prior to benchmarking, directing time and financial investments in our properties would have been done with less precise methods. Now, we have the information to help identify the properties with the greatest energy savings potential and prioritize capital investments. Benchmarking has also helped WRIT to set energy performance goals, which can motivate staff to pursue energy efficiency operational changes through competition within the portfolio.
Have you done anything that drastically improved a building score? If yes, what? WRIT has committed tens of millions of dollars over the previous several years towards energy efficiency capital improvements. These projects have included replacing HVAC equipment, improving building controls, installing variable frequency drives, converting electric heating to high efficiency natural gas condensing boilers, and retrofitting existing lighting to LED. These efforts have led to a improved building scores across WRIT’s portfolio.
What building’s energy performance are you most proud of, and why? WRIT acquired 2000 M Street NW in 2007 and the building has undergone substantial renovation to the HVAC systems and controls that have resulted in significant improvements to the building’s energy use and occupant comfort. The centerpiece ofthese renovations was the installation of a chilled beam system. The chilled beam system is quieter, takes up less space, and requires 60% less fan energy than the previous system. This installation was the first chilled beam project completed in the District. From 2011 to 2013, these measures have resulted in a 30% reduction in electricity consumption at the building, while over the same time period, the building increased from 50% to 100% occupancy.
What advice would you give for anyone benchmarking for the first time? Seek help. There are a lot of resources available, many of which are free, to assist newcomers with benchmarking. The jurisdictions requiring benchmarking are eager for building owners to engage with the programs and therefore have created many helpful training and troubleshooting resources.