Benchmarked: A Case Study from Brookfield Office Properties

December 28, 2015
  |   1 Comment

Benchmarked, an energy blog series, examines local businesses who have used EPA’s Portfolio Manager to track energy use.

 

Brookfield logo

 

Company/Property Name: Brookfield Office Properties

Name and Title: Marissa Thorne, Senior Property Manager / Steve Hill, Lead Engineer / Tiesha Hackley, Assistant Property Manager

How many buildings do you manage?

Brookfield Office Properties owns, develops, and manages premier office properties in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Its portfolio is comprised of interests in 115 properties totaling 85 million square feet in the downtown cores of New York, Washington, D.C., Houston, Los Angeles, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa, London, Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth, making it the global leader in the ownership and management of office assets. Landmark properties include Brookfield Places in New York City, Toronto and Perth, Bank of America Plaza in Los Angeles, Bankers Hall in Calgary, and Darling Park in Sydney.

In Montgomery County, we own and manage seven commercial offices totaling over 1.3 million square feet. Our Silver Spring team manages three premier office buildings totaling over 700 thousand square feet.

What kinds of building uses are in your buildings?

In Montgomery County, our multitenant commercial office building uses include private businesses, public and governmental agencies, medical offices, and retail businesses.

When did your company begin benchmarking?

Brookfield began tracking data impacting our carbon footprint in 2011. Silver Spring Metro Plaza began benchmarking through ENERGY STAR® in 2004.

Why did you begin benchmarking?

Brookfield originally began benchmarking as a way to accurately track and monitor energy usages and measure the impact of efficiency measures. Benchmarking through ENERGY STAR is also an important way for our properties to earn recognition for our efforts and for communicating the superior performance of our buildings to potential tenants. Additionally, the ENERGY STAR label is a U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) requirement for leasing office space to federal government agencies, which is an integral part of Brookfield’s business model.

 

Brookfield management team standing with Couty Executive Ike Leggett

Brookfield’s Engineering and Management team at the Montgomery County Early Bird Benchmarkers Recognition Event in September 2015.

 

Who has done (in the past) and does (if different now) your benchmarking in Portfolio Manager?

In the beginning, Brookfield’s Chief Engineers were tasked with inputting utility bill data and managing their properties in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, with the purpose of engaging in the ongoing monitoring of the buildings energy performance.

Lead Engineers are now responsible for maintaining building attribute data in Portfolio Manager related to occupied square footage, number of regular occupants and computers, and building operating hours for each space type within the building. This allows the operating engineers the ability to make changes and understand how that can benefit or impact the working environment and energy consumption, as well as see energy usage changes impacted by changes to their operation procedures. Tracking performance daily is an important part of maintaining an efficient building.

How has benchmarking your energy use changed the way you manage your portfolio? What do you do now that you didn’t do before?

Brookfield monitors energy performance closely. Through the use of energy monitoring tools, the Lead Engineer and property staff are able to see variations in operations and what affect they have on energy usage down to the minute. The most common and beneficial actions involve fully utilizing the Building Automation Systems which allows building engineers to optimize efficiency of HVAC equipment and lighting systems. Start and stop times are checked and adjusted weekly with changing weather conditions. Real time energy usage is really helpful in tracking run away scheduling or operator errors.

Brookfield has achieved the LEED-EB: O&M Gold Certification for three of their properties in Montgomery County at the Silver Spring Metro Plaza (SSMP). Having a high ENERGY STAR score is a simple way for a building to earn a large amount of points in the LEED-EB: O&M program. We are very pleased to have buildings like 8403 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, Maryland which had an ENERGY STAR score of 92 in 2014 due to efficient operations of the property. This high score earned an additional 17 points towards its LEED Gold Certification.

We have expanded our program to include real-time energy management at all our buildings, which gives the buildings engineer’s information on how the building systems are performing in real time, so adjustments can be made immediately, rather than after receiving utility bill information a month later. The engineer also receives alerts daily if usage is above the trend for the previous day.

 

Silver Spring Metro Plaza LEED Status

 

Have you done anything that drastically improved a building score? If yes, what?

Brookfield is tackling low-cost measures to improve energy performance and evaluating larger efficiency upgrades as part of the long-term business plan for each property. Brookfield has used utility incentive programs for retrofitting lobbies, restrooms, and parking garage lighting with new LED technology. SSMP has also been utilizing these same utility rebates to relamp and replace bulbs in our stairwells. Employees have used these programs to provide additional training to become smarter and better operators.

The lighting retrofit projects have provide significant energy savings and reduced maintenance. The two lighting projects completed in 2015 are projected to save Silver Spring Metro Plaza 209,974 kWh per year, which will be about $29,400 per year in utility costs. Additional projects that have were eligible include the installation of HVAC Units, elevator modernizations, and occupancy sensors.

Since LEED Certification in 2014, the buildings have reduced water consumption by 699,000 gallons overall thanks to these upgrades.

What building’s energy performance are you most proud of, and why?

We are very proud that one of our older buildings is demonstrating superior energy performance with ENERGY STAR scores in the 90s. With good preventive maintenance by the engineering staff and close attention paid to small details, our buildings have been able to score high ENERGY STAR scores. We completed numerous upgrades to the HVAC system. Over the years we always look for the most efficient product to install going forward, as light bulb technology has evolved, we have always utilized the latest and greatest. For example one of our building that was build in 1987 currently holds a 92 score in ENERGY STAR. In 2015 alone, Brookfield is proud to have earned the ENERGY STAR label on 79 percent of our properties across the United States.

 

Brookfield management team accepting awards

The Engineering and Management team is shown above; Robert (Steve) Hill, Lead Engineer; Tiesha Hackley, Assistant Property Manager; Marissa Thorne, Property Manager; and Brittany Hilliker work in concert to operate an efficient complex that provides superior comfort to our clients while reducing our carbon footprint.

 

What advice would you give for anyone benchmarking for the first time?

First time benchmarkers should start by utilizing the training and template resources available in the Portfolio Manager tool so that they may become familiar with what information is required to benchmark. Then engage the property teams to collect information that will be input into Portfolio Manager. There are bulk upload templates that can be used for large portfolios or inputting 12 months of energy data to get started. Engage the entire building team involved in the day-to-day operations at the property to think about energy and cost savings projects and encourage collaborative thinking and suggestions in regular team meetings. Property operators should keep apprised of utility and other rebate incentive programs that will assist in funding retrofits and other energy saving projects.

 



One comment on "Benchmarked: A Case Study from Brookfield Office Properties"

  1. As a green building consultant for Sustainable Investment Group, an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year (www.sigearth.com), I am very impressed with the benchmarking you are doing and the fact that Brookfield has earned ENERGY STAR Labels for over 79% of your properties across the US! Keep up the great work!

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