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Resource Center

picture of a building with caption that reads "resource center" increasing a building's efficiency"

Increasing a building’s energy performance is a continuous improvement process. The first step to examining and improving your building’s performance is to measure your energy performance with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. From there, the process of improving energy efficiency will be somewhat different in each building, depending on current energy management practices and the age and efficiency of building systems. However, all buildings that improve their energy efficiency will do some combination of the following: See Energy Efficiency Checklist for a summary.

Operating a building efficiently means:

  • Regularly checking that heating, cooling and ventilation systems are only running when needed
  • Lights are off after hours or when sufficient daylight is present
  • Thermostats, sensors, and controls are correctly calibrated and programmed
  • All other equipment in the building is working as designed.

These operational efficiencies can be maintained on a continuous basis using technology that automatically detects issues and fixes them.  If technology isn’t in place to automatically detect issues, a building can periodically go through a re-tuning, or retrocommissioning process, to systematically evaluate and find opportunities for operational improvements.

Learn about Xcel's Recommissioning programs. 

 

The first step in planning an upgrade to equipment and systems is to have an energy audit.  An audit will specify the energy savings and payback period that might be expected from replacing building equipment and systems.

Get started with an on-site energy audit from Xcel Energy, they will usually pay 90% of the cost of the audit. Also, discuss next steps with their business solutions center, 1-800-481-4700.

Learn about the types of energy audits available:  ASHRAE Level 1, 2 & 3.

Equipment and systems can be replaced at the end of their useful life or ahead of schedule.  It may make financial sense to replace some building systems and equipment immediately, as newer equipment has an attractive payback period based on the estimated energy savings.  For other equipment, it may make sense to wait to replace the unit when it reaches its end of useful life, at which time more energy efficient equipment can be selected.  

 

What is the Payback on Typical Energy Efficiency Improvement Strategies?

Source:  "United States Building Efficiency Retrofits: Market Sizing and Financing Models." Rockefeller Foundation and Deutsche Bank Group. 2012. Payback periods are estimates, there are no assurances that payback periods will be achieved.

Through Colorado Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), property owners and developers across Denver will be able to access a new financing tool to invest in energy efficiency, renewable energy and water conservation improvements. The voluntary program lowers the cost of third-party financing, which is repaid through the property tax assessment process. Participants receive capital to finance eligible improvements, and repayment is collected through the property tax assessment process (a voluntary assessment is placed on the building owner’s property tax bill). The assessment can provide long-term financing of up to 20 years and stays with the property at the time of sale, removing traditional barriers to financing projects with payback cycles longer than two to three years.
 
The of advantages of PACE for owners of commercial real estate include:

  • No down payment or personal loan guarantee needed from the owner
  • Energy cost savings can be cash flow positive to the owner
  • Building asset value is increased by the value of the new equipment
  • When the property is sold, the lien transfers to the new owner (like a sewer tax)
  • Long-term (up to 20 year) financing is available at low fixed rates from local and national capital providers

The of advantages of PACE for the people of Denver include:

  • New jobs created by every C-PACE project
  • Energy consumption reduced through more efficient buildings
  • Greenhouse gas emission reductions

Resources

The following case study buildings are leading the way in improving energy efficiency. Learn how buildings like yours are staying ahead of the curve and seeing an attractive return on investments in energy efficiency. 

If you have recently undertaken or completed an energy efficiency project, we want to hear about it! Write a case study about your project or host an event with us to showcase your building. Please send suggestions for energy efficiency case studies and buildings we might showcase to energizedenver@denvergov.org. Read basic case study requirements.

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Watts to Water has more than 170 metro-wide participants. In addition to awards, the program offers participants sustainability training for its staff, training on using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, and updates on the most recent rebates and incentives for energy and water conservation. Watts to Water annually presents awards to the most energy- and water-efficient office buildings, medical office buildings, hotels, and multi-family residences in Denver. The awards are presented at the BOMA Luncheon each June, and includes several categories: Most Efficient, Greatest Improvement, Super Saver, and a Visionary Award designed for projects and achievements that are not easily seen through direct savings. 

The City of Denver is leading by example by participating in the Better Buildings Challenge run by the U.S. Department of Energy. Under this program, the City has committed to benchmarking the energy usage of buildings and cutting energy use by 20% percent from a 2011 baseline by 2020. The City is well on its way to meeting these goals, having achieved 9 percent energy savings across its portfolio from 2011 to 2014, an achievement that’s well ahead of the 7.5 percent energy savings target that was set for those years.

Better buildings challenge graph

 
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