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).
Energy efficiency in buildings can provide a multitude of benefits for building owners and tenants:
Increased building valuation
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!
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.
1st Place: Golden Spike Apartments, 3000 W. Yale Ave. 26% energy savings.
1st Place: Trivium Apartments, 2125 Buchtel Blvd. 26% energy savings.
1st Place: The Residences at Neusteters, 720 16th St. 45% energy savings.
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.
Operating a building efficiently means:
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.
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:
Advantages of PACE for the people of Denver include:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Tune-Up Your Building (recommissioning)
Train Staff & Educate Occupants
HVAC System Upgrades
Ground Source Heat Pumps (Geothermal)
Cool Roofs / Vegetated Roofs