Why You should be Proactive with Complying with Local Law 87

As part of the Greater, Greener Building Plan, Local Law 87 goes into effect next year. The law requires buildings over 50,000 square feet in New York City to file Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning Reports with the city every ten years, based on the building’s tax lot number. Some buildings will have to comply next year and others will have until 2022 until they first have to file. However, the sooner a building complies with the law the better.

If your building’s Energy Audit & Retrocommissioning Reports are due next year, you should start working on them soon. Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning projects can be time consuming. Depending on the size of the building and the systems in place, an Energy Audit could take upwards of 3 months depending what building documentation exists. A thorough Retrocommissioning project can also take between 6 months and 1 year.

If you are one of the lucky buildings who don’t have to file for another ten years, you should still consider acting soon. According to the PlaNY website:

An energy efficiency report, including both an energy audit report and a retro-commissioning report, can be submitted between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2013, in order to achieve early compliance. In such cases, the next required report for the building would be due in the tenth calendar year after the first assigned due date for the report; for example if the due date would have been 2015, satisfying the early compliance would make the due date 2025.

This means that, potentially, you don’t have to worry about compliance for 19 years after filing your initial report, if your tax lot ends in “2”. Furthermore, the requirements of the law could change and become more strict over time.

Additionally, there is currently funding for 50% of the cost a ASHRAE Level III Energy Audit (which would exceed the Energy Audit requirements of the Local Law 87) from Con Edison. This funding has a will expire, so using it to comply with Local Law 87 as early as possible will cost you less money upfront. There are numerous other funding opportunities for implementing the recommendations that come out of an energy audit. Performing the audit now will help you secure funding for upgrades that otherwise might have expired, or allow you a longer time period to budget before making updates.

There is a direct benefit to the owner or manager for the building to comply with the law as well. An Energy Audit will provide you with valuable information on where energy can be conserved in your building. By implementing the recommendations from the audit, you will be able to economically reduce your buildings energy consumption and improve your bottom line. Retrocommissioning ensures that your existing building systems are operating as efficiently as possible, leading to energy conservation and improved occupant comfort. The sooner the Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning Reports are completed, the sooner you can start reducing your building’s energy use.

Don’t forget Local Law 84 went into effect in New York in 2010, requiring the same group of buildings to be benchmarked by filing their annual energy use with the City by May 1st each year for the previous year. Buildings out of compliance will be charged $500 per quarter. To avoid future fines, a building should submit their benchmark report to the city as soon as possible.

For more information on complying with Local Laws 84 and 87, please contact us at 866-382-8628 or info@rcxbd.com.

Deadline for LL84 submittals has passed! Avoid $2000 in fines by acting today.

PlaNYC, introduced to the public on Earth Day in 2007, has established some laws that building owners and property or facility managers in NYC need to be aware of.

LL84 requires annual benchmarking for energy and water for buildings, and the data must be submitted to the City EACH YEAR by May 1st.

Fines are being issued already for non-compliance with LL84! Building owners are to be fined $500 per quarter of non-compliance, beginning May 1.

Have you received this letter?       http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/downloads/pdf/2010_noncomply_violation.pdf

Gather your data and submit as soon as possible to avoid continued fines!  RCx is one of the Energy Efficiency service providers that can help- and we now have an easy to use online form: www.rcxbd.com/request

Also to keep on the radar, LL87 comes into play in 2013.  This law requires the same list of buildings (see www.nyc.gov/ggbp) to have energy audits or retrocommissioning done by certified providers. The deadline year that each of those buildings is assigned to comply is organized by tax lot numbers. This law affects buildings every 10 years, however, having retrocommissioning or energy audits done can be a time consuming process. Also, there are some significant advantages to early compliance!  There is also funding available NOW for building owners to have ASHRAE Level III Energy Audits (comply with LL87) to pay for half of the cost of the audit!  There is also funding to help with any first costs when making any energy efficiency improvements.

For more updates on PlaNYC 2030 and the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, Mayor Bloomberg made an address on Earth Day 2012:
http://live.c40cities.org/blog/2012/4/25/spotlight-on-planyc-five-years-of-progress.html

RCx to "Unlock Efficiency" at NFMT Conference March 2012

Many facility managers and building owners have “run the numbers” and researched the effectiveness of energy reduction in their buildings.  Not to mention, it also increases the value of an existing building, reduces risks associated with downtime, and reduces regular operating costs- which can now be viewed as controllable costs.  Oftentimes, due to certain types of energy analysis and building and operations detective work, we are able to reduce current energy consumption in existing buildings by anywhere from 15 – 40%.

Well, the market realizes that there is a significant opportunity out there to make a change, but no one is educating the masses on where to start and what kinds of solutions may be applicable to your specific building and BUDGET.

Come and see us speak on this subject at the **FREE to attend** NFM&T conference in Baltimore, MD.

Unlocking Efficiency: Keys to a Successful Energy Management Program

Thursday March 15th, 2012.

3:10 – 4:00pm

Room 339

Our engineers and industry experts will be presenting:

  1. the development and implementation of an energy-management program
    • key components will be outlined
    • overview of where and how to start managing your facility’s energy use
    • determine current energy consumption
  2. the differences (and similarities) between energy-audits and retrocommissioning
    • when/if either of these services might be applicable
    • what to expect from either service
    • what to look for in a qualified energy auditor or retrocommissioning agent

While we hope to see you in our audience as we speak at NFM&T, if your schedule is tight, we also will be available to answer any of your questions at our BOOTH  #2266 at any time that the exhibit hall is open (Tues – Thurs).

If unable to make it to the Baltimore area for the show, please feel free to contact us through our website, or by email: info@rcxbd.com and we will answer your questions as soon as possible!

The Difference between Energy Audits & Retrocommissioning

Many property managers have been struggling to reduce operating costs by improving the energy efficiency in their buildings.  For many owners and operators, an Energy Audit or Retrocommissioning project is the perfect starting point. However, it can be difficult to understand the difference between the two processes, and to determine the best option for your building.

An Energy Audit is meant to inform a building manager how well a building is performing from an energy consumption standpoint.  The audit report includes a list of energy-saving measures one may choose to implement, including the payback and annual energy savings associated with each measure. An energy auditor will examine at least one year of energy bills to understand how the building consumes energy throughout the various seasons. Then they will use that data to benchmark the building’s energy use as compared to similar buildings in the area.

The auditor will also analyze all of the building systems in place and their operating schedules, breaking down the building’s total energy consumption by use (i.e. lighting, heating/cooling, outlet plug loads, etc). The scope of an Energy Audit can also be expanded to include a review of water use, if a building manager is interested in reducing water consumption.

The final product of an Energy Audit is a report explaining how the building is currently performing and providing a list of no cost, low-cost, and capital-cost energy conservation opportunities.  Building owners that want to understand and reduce their energy consumption should invest in an Energy Audit.

The Retrocommissioning process systematically analyzes and fine-tunes an existing building’s individual systems as well as all operation and maintenance (O&M) procedures. Unlike an Energy Audit, energy reduction is not the sole goal of Retrocommissioning. The precise goals of a Retrocommissioning project can vary between projects, but can include any combination of the following: extending the life of equipment, improving comfort of a building for its occupants, improving indoor air quality, improving the effectiveness of operation and maintenance procedures (thus reducing a facility manager’s time spent on unplanned maintenance), reducing utility bills, reducing energy consumption, and reducing the number of complaints from building occupants.

The outcome of Retrocommissioning is a more comfortable and efficient building and a guide for operating and maintaining it. Candidates for Retrocommissioning include: buildings where the occupancy and use has changed since the building was constructed, buildings that have occupant comfort issues, and buildings that need to reduce energy consumption.

Both an Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning will lower a building’s operating cost and improve a property’s value. Before taking on any building performance improvement project, it is vital for a building owner or operator to outline the goals s/he hopes to achieve in order to choose the best course of action for building improvement.

How to Evaluate Energy Audit Offers Against One Another

Not all Energy Audits are created equal. Depending on who performs an Energy Audit and what guidelines (if any) they follow, the depth of analysis performed and audit cost will vary greatly. Many people do not understand that you can not evaluate Energy Audit vendors against one another based solely on price, there are other variables to consider that will greatly affect the value of the report you are receiving.  A free Energy Audit provided by a lighting supply vendor will most likely not tell you much more than how much energy could be saved by upgrading your lighting.  A Level III Energy Audit that follows the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) Procedures for Commercial Building Energy Audits will provide you with a great detail of information, but this level of analysis can be costly is unnecessary unless major renovations are planned.

What Level of Energy Audit is Needed

Ideally, prior to solicitating Energy Audit proposals, the goals for the audit should be determined.  Are you looking to simply find out more information about how your building is consuming energy relative to comparable buildings? Do you already know that the energy efficiency of your building is poor and you want to lay out a energy management plan for the next 5 years? Are you planning major renovations and want to ensure that the building will greatly reduce their energy use as a result of the building upgrades? Laying out your goals will help you to write a request for proposal for an Energy Audit that will satisfy your building objectives.

There are three levels of Energy Audits that are commonly recognized. A Level I Energy Audit is often called a “Walk-through Analysis.” For this level of analysis, an auditor will evaluate historical energy use,conduct a site visit to the building, and perform a brief analysis on potential energy saving opportunities. A Level I Energy Audit report will provide a list of low-cost & no-cost energy saving opportunities along with their estimated cost and savings. A list of capital improvements that should be analyzed further will also be included. This level of  audit is appropriate for buildings without a lot of capital to invest in upgrades and whose energy use has not been evaluated before.

A Level II Energy Audit requires a more thorough building site visit and energy analysis. An auditor will spend more time onsite looking at all of the building systems and discussing their operation and maintenance with the facility manager. Following the onsite visit, the auditor will begin a detailed analysis of the building energy use. Partway through the offsite analysis the auditor will meet with the building owner and operator to review all of the potential energy saving opportunities and select which ones should be fully analyzed and which are not feasible to implement. The auditor will then complete their analysis and provide a report to the building owner that includes a breakdown of the energy use in the building, a list of energy savings opportunities along with their estimated savings and cost analaysis, and a list of potential capital-intensive improvements that require further analysis.

In addition to all of the analysis work done as part of a Level II Energy Audit, a Level III Energy Audit focuses on capital intensive improvements. This additional analysis may require more thorough data collection and engineering analysis. The report for this level of audit will include everything in the Level II Report and a list of detailed capital intensive project costs and savings associated with each energy saving recommendation.

The ASHRAE guidelines list specifically what analysis should be included in all three levels on Energy Audit. Although many people refer to the ASHRAE definitions when discussing a particular level of audit, it is important that you confirm with your auditor that they are using the ASHRAE guidelines. If they are not, make sure to find out exactly what guidelines they are following or what analysis will be included in the audit. It is important to make sure that Energy Auditors are bidding on the same scope of work and that your goals for the audit are included in that scope of work.

Who Should Perform the Energy Audit?

In addition to ensuring that all auditors are bidding on the same scope of work, you will want to find out about the experience and certifications a firm has to make certain that the quality of the audit will be satisfactory. A good auditor will have certifications from reputable agencies, such as the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), ASHRAE, or the Building Performance Institute (BPI). Good certifications are a sign of an Energy Auditors experience. Additionally you should ask for references or previously completed reports to confirm that the auditor has experience in conducting similar Energy Audits.  

Many product vendors have begun to offer free or heavily discounted Energy Audits. These free audits may seem appealing, but they will most likely not analyze the overall building and will not provide you with unbiased information on what actions can be taken to reduce your building’s energy consumption 

Deciding on an Auditor

When it comes down to awarding a contract, keep in mind that when it comes to an Energy Audit, you get what you pay for. You will not hear about facility managers getting a great bargin Energy Audit, but you will hear about people who did not know what to look for when signing an Energy Audit contract and in the end did not get a valueable analysis of potential energy saving opportunities. Prior to awarding any energy audit contract, make sure you will get what you want to out of the audit and a qualified person is performing the audit.

Get While the Gettin’s Good…

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) understands that just because a property-management company offers low-income housing, the costs to provide these accommodations aren’t always “affordable.”  The PHFA also realizes that the preservation of existing rental housing stock is crucial for many low income residents who do not need or have capacity for homeownership. So, in recognizing that the ongoing maintenance of healthy rental housing properties is increasingly strained by the raising costs of property operation (utilities, insurance, taxes, & other fixed costs) while tenant rates & incomes are stagnant or declining, the PHFA decided to take action.  But, where would the greatest opportunity for improvement exist for the PHFA to offer assistance to help combat the issues threatening the long term financial viability of a large portion of the affordable-apartment inventory?  By controlling the most controllable costs, of course… Energy!  “The cost of energy is one of the most important components in affordable housing,” said Brian A. Hudson, PHFA Executive Director.  “It is the deciding factor in the economic feasibility for many older properties.”   Enter the Preservation through Smart Rehab Program (Smart Rehab).

Smart Rehab is a multifamily affordable rental housing preservation program that provides financing for capital improvements that result in a measurable reduction in energy consumption & utility costs.  Both buildings where tenants are responsible for utility costs & buildings where the owner is responsible for utility costs are eligible to participate in the programs.  The program focuses on finding & financing energy saving opportunities for a specific facility that will increase the property’s energy efficiency, reduce operating costs, and improve the comfort, safety & quality of housing for its low income residents.  The Smart Rehab Program offers funding for energy efficiency improvements that are designed to be paid for by long term energy savings generated from the work.

So, how exactly does the program work?  PHFA approves properties to participate in the program & requires that they have an energy audit performed by a certified auditing firm.  The findings of these energy audits are used to evaluate possible energy consumption & cost saving measures.  Following the review of the audit report, the property is eligible to receive grants & loans through the PHFA.  Funding for the program has been provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development, the PHFA, & the MacArthur Foundation Grant.

The key to the Smart Rehab program lies in identifying capital improvements & projecting annual energy cost saving through an energy audit.  Energy Auditing reveals the amount of energy used in a building, & where energy is used.  Understanding how energy is consumed allows an owner to focus attention toward reducing energy consumption where inefficiencies exist. Once an owner has submitted an application to the PHFA to enter into the Smart Rehab program with their facilities, the owner must obtain 3 bids for the audit services from qualified/PHFA-approved energy auditors.  Owners may use project cash or Replacement Reserve to pay for the audit, & the PHFA may provide a grant for up to half of the cost.  The selected certified auditor will then provide a comprehensive investment grade energy-audit of your facilities.  The multi-family audit is a detailed examination of how the multifamily facility uses energy & other controllable utilities, quantification of the buildings energy and water consumption, the cost of energy, technical analysis of the building & associated systems, & in conclusion a set of recommendations to reduce the energy costs.  The energy cost reduction will be categorized by building envelope, equipment (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) & operational changes.

Upon completion of the audit, the auditor will sit down with the owner to discuss the report & the list of recommended reduction opportunities.  The report will then be submitted to the PHFA in order to determine which conservation measures will be funded through the Smart Rehab program.  Projects with payback periods of 10 years or less will be considered, & each facility may be eligible for up to $750,000!

The PHFA is working with energy consultants to lower the utility expenses of multifamily dwellings to make sure high energy prices don’t increase rent & utility costs for fixed-income older Pennsylvanians, families of modest means, or persons with disabilities.  Additionally, energy-costs are about to increase!  As per PA Act 129, which is demanding that utility providers reduce their overall demand/consumption, energy rate caps are set to expire at the end of 2010.  Believe it or not, current predictions call for an estimated 35% rate increase in electric generation prices when the remaining rate caps finally end throughout the state.

So, by determining the present status of energy use; actions that enhance efficiency, improve delivery, hold down costs to consumers, & keep the apartments affordable can be achieved.  In fact, Smart Rehab financed capital improvements of $128,000 at “The Umbrella Works” facilities in Lancaster, PA that will save $26,800 in annual utility bills, a Return-on-Investment (ROI) of less then 5 years!  Moreover, this is only one of the many examples of affordable housing property-management success-stories as a result of participation with the PHFA Preservation through Smart Rehab Program.  For assistance in applying for the program or to ask questions to learn more about how you and your property can participate, contact a member of the RCx Building Diagnostics team (certified/PHFA-approved energy-auditors) or the PHFA to discuss Smart Rehab and its potential for you.

Please Rise, & Remove Your Caps for PA Act 129…

More than a decade ago, caps were imposed on the rates charged by the electricity-generation industry.  Today, those rate caps are set to expire.  Current predictions call for an estimated 35% rate increase in electric generation prices when the remaining rate caps finally end throughout the state.

Thankfully, Harrisburg has enacted a piece of legislation to help Pennsylvania’s electric consumers ease the financial effects of rate deregulation.  Act 129 of 2008 (House Bill 2200) was signed into Pennsylvania state law in October 2008. Act 129 requires PA’s seven major Electric Distribution Companies (EDCs) to enact Energy Efficiency & Conservation (EE&C) strategies.  So, Act 129 should help when the caps come off.

In fact, the office of Governor Ed Rendell estimates that Act 129 will help residential, commercial, & industrial users save about $500 million over five years!  But, don’t expect a quick fix to the anticipated rate increases.  “Pennsylvania has been experiencing a 1.5% per year rise in annual electric use, & this new program will make use of many relatively small technologies to conserve electricity,” says Mike Smith, spokesperson for Gov. Rendell.  “This is one way to make the price increases from the end of rate caps more manageable, while also lowering greenhouse emissions.”

But, what exactly is Act 129?  Act 129 requires each of the seven major EDCs in PA to adopt a plan to reduce energy demand & consumption within its service territory.  The policy declares that the health, safety, & prosperity of Pennsylvania are dependent on having adequate, reliable, affordable, & environmentally sustainable electric service.  The PA Public Utility Commission (PUC) is actively involved in the implementation process for Act 129, expanding the PUC’s oversight responsibilities & imposing new requirements on EDCs.  According to the plan, Pennsylvania’s consumers will employ conservation techniques to reduce electric consumption 1% by 2011 & 3% by 2013.  Utilities must also cut peak usage during the 100 hours of highest use by 4.5% by 2013.  The legislation has also provided the state’s PUC with the authority to assess fines if utilities miss their conservation goals.  These fines could range from $100,000 per day to upwards of $20 million (which the EDC cannot recover from the ratepayers).

What about the Energy Efficiency & Conservation (EE&C) strategies?  On or before July 1, 2009, all PA electric distribution companies with at least 100,000 customers developed & filed an EE&C plan to the PUC for approval.  Many of the EE&C plans include energy incentive programs for residential, municipal, commercial & industrial clients & provide funds to replace outdated equipment & lighting with modern, energy-efficient systems; to conduct energy audits; & to enact process & operational changes that result in energy savings.  Find more information on your utility provider’s EE&C strategy by visiting the utility company website, or by visiting the PUC’s site.

Pennsylvania’s conservation program will also require that every electric consumer be equipped with smart meters within 15 years.  A “smart meter” is bidirectional & records usage at least hourly.  This technology will give consumers the information they need to better consume electricity during off-peak times, while electric utilities institute pricing plans that reward customers for non peak usage.

As a PA electricity consumer, I cannot say that I am excited for the anticipated increase of my utility bill when the caps expire.  However as a concerned inhabitant of this planet, I am thrilled.  This is a progressive step in an attempt to fundamentally change the way Pennsylvania looks at electric consumption.  The responsibility now lies with the utility providers to guide consumers to sustainable lifestyle changes, & to do so quickly.  Kudos to the PA government officials that are making efforts for action & not just worrying about keeping their jobs while padding their pockets. Harrisburg has set the challenge, Pennsylvania, are you up to it?

To view the bill please click the following link: House Bill 2200 – Act 129 of 2008 Bill

What is the difference between an Energy Audit and Retrocommissioning?

Gen-Green-LED

Energy Audits are very similar to Retrocommissioning and there is significant overlap between the two services.  Retrocommissioning focuses on the existing building systems and tweaking them to operate as efficiently as possible.  Energy Audits analyze the building energy consumption history and identifies both no cost and capital improvements which can be implemented.  The main difference between the two processes is that the final product of Retrocommissioning is a more efficient building and the final product of an Energy Audit is a report that includes a set of recommendations which will lead to a more efficient building along with a set of ROIs for each of the improvements.

How long does it take to have an Energy Audit Performed?

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Depending on the level of audit and the complexity and size of the building, the energy audit walkthrough typically takes 1 to 2 days. The analysis and recommendations are usually received within six weeks of the walkthrough.