Since the introduction of the Energy Star program by the federal government’s EPA in 1992, the awareness and practice of energy efficiency in buildings has increased dramatically. Initiatives like the program’s energy performance rating system enable facility professionals to measure the efficiency of their buildings in comparison to thousands of others.
The result has been innovation on the part of facility professionals to achieve savings and reduced environmental impact. Energy conservation can be a form of reducing environmental impact by reducing natural resources.
One commercial facility that has exemplified energy conservation principles to the maximum is The Joe Serna Jr. Cal/EPA Headquarters Building. Located in downtown Sacramento, CA, the 25-story, 950,000-square foot office building was completed in early 2001.
Ever since their involvement, the building’s managing company, has been dedicated to making this large building energy efficient. The building is operated by Los Angeles, CA-based Thomas Properties Group (TPG). The managing company has implemented a number of creative strategies to maximize energy efficiency and create savings as well.
And because of its conservation measures, the building earned the distinction of being named the 2003-2004 winner of the BOMA International Earth Award.
Cleaning Up Energy
As a result of the California energy crisis of 2001, TPG began exploring new ways to reduce energy usage immediately. It put together a plan to have the janitorial staff clean mostly during daylight hours, thereby reducing the amount of after hour lighting needed.
In addition to the daylight cleaning, the building is equipped with an energy management system that allows staff to calculate and monitor energy usage so data can be compared to prior months and years.
The energy conservation measures began in February 2001 with average monthly usage at 775,933 Kilowatt hours (KWhs) and a daily average usage of 25,247 KWhs. The 2001-2002 fiscal year showed a reduction of 1.5 million KWhs in comparison to 2000-2001 consumption.
In January 2002, the rest of the state caught up with TPG when California Governor Gray Davis asked all state agencies to find ways to reduce their energy consumption by 8%. Because of its switch to daytime janitorial services, the Joe Serna Jr. Building already reduced consumption by 8%, resulting in a utility savings of $100,000 annually.
Not one to rest on its laurels, TPG is currently working on a cost proposal to install electrical metering per floor, which would allow for floor-to-floor comparisons.
Energy saving products were also used to create remarkable energy savings. A variety of lighting controls, including ceiling-mounted photosensors, office and desktop motion sensors, and high efficiency (low mercury) lamps were installed along with high efficiency glazing. Energy efficiency was further enhanced by strategic cubicle/office placement to maximize the penetration of natural light into the floor plates of each level.
Meters separated out energy usage for lighting, HVAC, and plugs. A photovoltaic panel array was placed on the mid-level rooftop, contributing up to 55,000 KWhs of energy per year.
In partnership with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the facility purchased 100% green power.
TPG has also created an employee merit program called Employee Achievement Rewards System (E.A.R.S.) for contract employees, rewarding them for energy saving ideas. The engineering department has made such suggestions as vending machine motion sensor devices and “intelligent” lighting controls that may result in even greater energy savings.
The facility has been identified as an Energy Star building for two years running, with a score of 96 out of 100. With this score, the building’s facility professionals make the claim that the Joe Serna Jr. Cal/EPA Headquarters Building is the most efficient high rise building in the nation. The building also has aggressive initiatives in the areas of waste minimization, recycling, water conservation, and alternative transportation.
Should all buildings have as many energy efficiency programs as the Joe Serna Jr. building? In a perfect world, the answer is yes. But facility professionals know that’s not a realistic goal. However, spreading the word about success stories such as these can give facility professionals the inspiration to adopt programs that work for the specific characteristics of their buildings. The knowledge is out there, and the biggest thing companies stand to lose are high energy bills.