The Eco Engineering Approach
Eco Engineering has successfully completed more than 200 projects involving commercial office facilities and related properties with combined space of more than 15 million square feet. Our experience offers some critical insights and key learnings about energy efficient lighting projects in the commercial real estate sector.
Diversity of Space
While much of the lighting consumption in this sector stems from office spaces and general HQ-type facilities, the diversity of space requires expert auditing to identify all possible energy efficiency gains. Individual office spaces vary dramatically from shared workspaces, meeting rooms and lobby areas. Call centers and data centers provide their own unique configuration of space and required lighting. We have successfully designed, installed and monitored usage in “penthouse” areas where heating and cooling systems or generators are located. Food service or cafeteria areas have distinct lighting needs. We have helped clients identify added benefits in janitor and supply rooms, storage rooms, hallways and staircases and electrical closets. Finally, the potential associated with outdoor lighting components, including parking garages, can add substantially to the overall project energy savings and ROI. The additional savings from examination of all spaces where lighting is consumed could make or break the final financial analysis and estimated payback calculations.
Every property manager knows that maintaining the office building’s lighting infrastructure is an expensive and never-ending task. Burned out bulbs and humming ballasts affect the work environment and tenants quickly complain. With scarce maintenance resources, the property manager often struggles to replace or repair the lighting problem in a timely manner. Tenant satisfaction can plummet, and occupancy rates can be harmed.
Today’s LED lighting products and related controls create a longer lasting lighting environment. The LEDs themselves are rated for many more hours of use than standard fluorescent fixtures, stretching out the maintenance cycle. With controls for occupancy, dimming, daylighting and a variety of other functions, lighting usage is minimized when not needed and the maintenance cycle is further reduced. Maintenance expenses are real. Property managers considering a lighting upgrade project must account for the expense reduction in their ROI analysis of the lighting project. The savings can often be significant and make or break the project payback criteria.
LEDs and Advanced Lighting Controls
Advancements in LED lighting technology have enabled a range of solutions that produce more light, last longer, and are less energy intensive. The result is lower electric costs for the property manager or the tenant depending upon the situation. Lighting is a significant expense in the commercial real estate sector and reducing these expenses can be accelerated through a combination of replacing and deploying lighting controls. Occupancy controls can achieve added savings by automatically turning off light levels when the space is unoccupied. Daylighting controls can adjust light output up or down based on the level of natural light that illuminates a particular space, at a specific time of the day. Intelligent sensors can be embedded in the LED framework as part of a networked advanced control system to provide feedback on a variety of building management functions, many of them non-lighting related, thus creating the backbone for an Internet-of-Things (IoT) approach to property management.
Numerous studies have shown that energy efficient buildings create a higher level of tenant satisfaction and greater occupancy rates. Tenants report increased productivity, reduced complaints about the light quality, improved security, and greater overall comfort among occupants after a comprehensive lighting upgrade. Property managers and building owners report that rents are higher on average and overall building valuations are greater when a facility can demonstrate real energy savings.
Eco Engineering understands that the financial commitment for a lighting project can be a substantial up-front investment for the property manager or building owner. Although the payback for the project is greater than the investment over time, coming up with the initial capital to implement multiple projects can be an obstacle. The situation is made more complex by the fact that many tenants are paying for utilities, diminishing the urgency to gain energy savings for the property manager.
New project financing tools are available to help address these issues. Lighting-as-a-Service models put the entire lighting infrastructure into the hands of a 3rd party who funds the upgrade, assumes responsibility for the energy savings, and handles all maintenance. Energy savings from the upgrade fund the reimbursement to the 3rd party. Additional savings beyond guarantee amounts can be split between the 3rd party and the tenants or property managers. A variation of this model called PACE is especially well suited to the commercial office building industry. Eco Engineering is familiar with the opportunities these financing models create, and the potential associated with utility company rebates post upgrade. Let our experts help you!