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Energize Denver: Resource Center
 

Increasing a building’s energy performance is a continuous process of improving both building operations and systems. 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 Energy Efficiency Checklist (pdf).


Benefits:

Energy efficiency in buildings can provide a multitude of benefits for building owners and tenants:

Building Owner/Manager Benefits


Increased building valuation

  • Retain and attract tenants
  • Lower energy expenses
  • Improve net operating income (NOI) – 28.8% greater NOI and 17.6% less operating costs
  • Avoid increased costs from run-to-fail replacements
  • Comply early so if hail hits you can replace your roof with no additional requirements
Tenant Benefits
  • Healthy, productive employees and students through lower CO2 (reduced lost days of work and school per year)
  • Happy employees due to natural daylight
  • Reduce allergies via better air quality
  • Better thermal comfort

 
Resources

In 2019, the Energize Denver Energy Efficiency Awards were given to the three office buildings, three multifamily buildings and three hotels that improved their energy efficiency the most.  Here are descriptions of the winners! Check them out and learn from real world examples what you can implement in your own building!

Offices:

1st Place: The Tabor Center, 1200 17th St. 20% energy savings.

2nd Place: The Petroleum Building, 110 16th St. 19% energy savings.

3rd Place: 1660 Wynkoop, 1660 Wynkoop St. – Union Station. 13% energy savings.

Multifamily:

Apartment

1st Place: Golden Spike Apartments, 3000 W. Yale Ave. 26% energy savings.

1st Place: Trivium Apartments, 2125 Buchtel Blvd. 26% energy savings.

Condominium

1st Place: The Residences at Neusteters, 720 16th St. 45% energy savings.

Hotels:

1st Place: The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa, 321 17th St. 21% energy savings.

2nd Place: The Grand Hyatt, 1750 Welton St. 13% energy savings.

3rd Place: Staybridge Suites Denver Stapleton, 8101 Northfield Blvd. 11% energy savings.

Previous Winners:

2018 Energize Denver Energy Efficiency Awards

 

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 an ASHRAE Level 1/2  audit. Find an auditor and discuss next steps with Xcel Energy's business solutions center, 1-800-481-4700.

Learn about the types of energy audits available in this Building Owner Guide to Energy Audits.

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 can 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.
 
Advantages of Commercial Real Estate PACE:

  • 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

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 to energizedenver@denvergov.org

Performance Contracting

From 2014 to 2017, General Services worked on a Performance Contract at fourteen City facilities, including libraries, recreation centers, and fire stations. The General Services Sustainability Fund received a total of $113,769 worth of rebates from Xcel Energy for investing in energy-saving equipment at these locations. Between January and November of 2017, an estimated energy use reduction of 17 percent was realized at these fourteen facilities.

Energy Star Certified Buildings

In 2017, nine City facilities received Energy Star certification. In general, Energy Star certified buildings release 35 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and use an average of 35 percent less energy than typical buildings. To earn Energy Star certification, a facility must operate among the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide, without sacrificing occupant comfort or building quality.

Better Buildings Challenge

In December 2011, Mayor Hancock committed the City and County of Denver to the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge initiative. Its goal is to reduce energy use per square foot by 20 percent by the year 2020. Despite increasing occupancy at City owned buildings, the City realized a 9 percent reduction in energy use per square foot in 2016, compared to our 2011 baseline energy use per square foot.

American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy – Top Ten Ranking for Denver

Denver was in the top ten in the 2017 ranking of community energy efficiency, done by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, and was identified as a “leader in efficiency in local government operations” within a group of five cities with policies to increase the energy efficiency of municipal buildings.

http://aceee.org/local-policy/city-scorecard

http://aceee.org/press/2017/05/cities-boost-efforts-reduce-energy

0-3 Year Payback

Upgrade Lighting

  • Upgrade to LED lighting
  • Install occupancy & daylight sensors

Tune-Up Your Building (recommissioning)

Train Staff & Educate Occupants

3-15 Year Payback

Controls upgrades 

  • Variable Frequency Drives on motors
  • Upgrade Pneumatic to Electronic (DDC) controls

HVAC System Upgrades 

  • High Efficiency Boiler, Chiller/AC, Air Handling Unit replacement
  • High-Efficiency Motors and drives
  • Optimized Motor Sizing
  • Heat Pumps
15+ Year Payback

Windows

Insulation

Ground Source Heat Pumps (Geothermal)

Cool Roofs / Vegetated Roofs