Most folks know that turning off lights in unoccupied rooms, taking shorter showers, and turning down the thermostat a couple of degrees can help save energy – and by extension, money. However, helping an entire building or association cut costs and reduce its carbon footprint can be a little trickier, which is why many co-op and condo buildings hire professional energy consultants to assess their energy profile and make recommendations as to how it might be improved.
Saving Dollars, Drawing Buyers
“Energy costs are often one of the largest budget expenses in a multifamily or condo property,” says Susan Rhyne, assistant vice president with Draper and Kramer, Inc., a property and financial services company based in Chicago. “Cost-conscious owners, managers, and boards know that new advances in electric/gas heating/cooling systems can result in significant energy savings.”
John Barrows, an energy efficiency consultant with Performance Path Solutions in Long Island, says that an energy efficient building is also a great marketing tool for attracting new residents. “The board can promote that the building has been evaluated and upgraded to current energy standards,” he says. “Ultimately it’s about saving both them and the occupants money.”
However, Rhyne explains that most multifamily building decision makers are not really equipped to evaluate how to achieve these savings, and whether the payback period is reasonable relative to the investment. “An energy consultant...can provide the information needed for boards to make an informed decision,” she says. “Plus, having a professionally prepared energy study clearly demonstrating long-term energy savings helps boards to get the buy-in of residents to support energy initiatives.”
Ryan Merkin, senior vice president and director of multifamily energy services for New York City-based Steven Winter Associates, Inc., says that aside from the obvious – potentially realizing energy savings and lower operating costs – building owners and property managers budgeting for significant capital expenditures (a new boiler, for example), can use that project as an ideal time to hire an energy consultant to evaluate potential upgrades and changes for improved efficiency, too.