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FMs in US have energy saving on their agenda

04 December 2008

A survey by BOMA, USGBC and AFE finds that facilities managers are taking an aggressive operational approach to energy savings and improving their buildings energy performance.

(WASHINGTON, DC: According to a new survey published by FMLink, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and the Association for Facility Engineers (AFE), more and more facility managers are implementing re-commissioning and energy audits to measure and improve their building’s energy performance. The survey, which was sent to more than 30,000 individuals, also found that most energy savings successes were the result of aggressive low-cost operational strategies rather major capital projects. However, such capital projects are one of the big items scheduled for action in the coming year.

"With the ever-growing need to reduce our collective carbon footprint and deal with the skyrocketing costs of energy, it is critical that we better understand not only what our building owners and facility managers are doing about this, but also to see which actions have made the greatest impact," said Peter Kimmel, an architect and IFMA Fellow, as well as the Publisher of FMLink. "I was very delighted to see that so many respondents are already doing so much to conserve energy wherever possible--there certainly are many more building professionals doing more than ever before.”

Other key findings include:
 Survey responses indicate that more than three quarters of the buildings greater than 50,000 sq. ft. had Building Automation Systems (BAS). 87% of those with more than 600,000 sq. ft. had BAS. Most of the respondents who experienced a greater-than-5% energy savings over the past two years had implemented a BAS.
 Respondents who underwent building re-commissioning two or more times a year had significantly more energy savings over the past two years than those who had not.
 41% of building operating plans included a professionally-developed energy-strategies staff education program. Just under 12% of respondents said they plan to implement such a plan in the next 12 months.
 59% of respondents have occupancy sensors in their general office space.
 9% of the buildings had some form of green certification (mostly ENERGY STAR® or LEED). However, a majority said they plan to obtain some aspect of green certification in the future.
 73% of all buildings greater than 50,000 sq. ft. have had an energy audit. Conversely, 63% of those under 25,000 sq. ft. did not have an audit. 86% of the audits were done in the past five years, 64% in the past three years; and 30% were completed in the past year.
 For respondents that had an energy audit, the most common recommendations to come from the audit were lighting upgrades (with more than 45% for respondents with buildings greater than 50,000 sq. ft.), and HVAC upgrade/replacement (chiller, air handling unit, boiler, pumps, outside air), which were mentioned by 34% of respondents. For those with buildings smaller than 50,000 sq. ft., weather stripping and insulation recommendations were frequently mentioned.
 Overall, the respondents averaged energy savings of 5-10% over the past two years. 57% of those respondents measured their savings through the money expended on utilities, energy consumed or their ENERGY STAR score.
 66% of respondents indicated that they do not have a green lease; however, 55% of respondents do provide their tenants with an operations manual that includes good energy management practices.
 Most respondents showed an excellent understanding of nearly all energy-related concepts, with a few exceptions that often fall in the bailiwick of professional engineers. It also became clear that many building professionals would benefit from general assistance in determining if their buildings are indeed “green” or what they have to do to make them green. The largest differences in reported energy savings came from those who have had an energy audit over the past three years, those who re-commission at least twice a year, those who have implemented ENERGY STAR rules of procurement, those with variable-frequency drives (VFDs), and those with lighting sensors.

 When asked what they plan to upgrade, install or replace over the next year, respondents said
o Minor repairs or corrective maintenance (37%)
o HVAC equipment (30%)
o VFDs (23%)
o Ongoing recommissioning (21%)

“From offering the latest industry education to implementing energy audits to applying effective low-cost operational strategies – property professionals are doing what it takes to save energy and reduce costs,” said BOMA International Chair and Chief Elected Officer Richard D. Purtell, RPA, portfolio manager, Grubb & Ellis Management Services, Inc. “We were pleased to be a part of this important survey and look forward to continuing to help our members and the commercial real estate industry at large improve energy performance.”

The survey was co-sponsored by McQuay International, Performance Roof Systems and Philips Lighting—three companies that are committed to reducing carbon emissions. The survey research was planned, coordinated and analyzed by Peter Kimmel, AIA, IFMA Fellow, the Publisher of FMLink and a former facility manager.

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