April 2013
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The Energy Integration Group

An emerging model
Anthony Campbell

Anthony Campbell
Stanley & Mathews Associates

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Commercial real estate owners and managers need to re-calibrate their thinking towards the way utilities and energy is managed in their buildings and portfolios.

Since deregulation took effect in New York 13 years ago, many changes have taken place from what was once an arcane utility bill paying function into a complex sub-set of functions ranging from commodity contracts and demand response to local laws mandating audits and retro-commissioning. Owners and property managers have had to listen to vendors selling energy dashboards and a host of analytics programs, all claiming to be the latest technology that will transform their buildings into high performance and efficient assets.

The problem with the current model is that property managers lack the knowledge and technical skillsets to evaluate these services and technologies, giving rise to a host of consultants and specialists to support management teams.

But they are in silos and no one is in charge of connecting the dots.

Another problem is that within the organization, accountability is often divided between different operating and management teams, for example, the chief of operations may be responsible for demand response, BAS and mechanical and electrical infrastructure, while the chief financial officer and accounting staff manage tenant sub-metering recoveries and energy budgets. The chief administration officer will manage the electricity procurement contracts.

Graphic 1 

The result is that energy and utility management is an inefficient, de-centralized and fragmented function that is slow to adopt newer technologies, lacking a strategic vision as to how to transition the legacy building stock into high performance buildings.

A new model:
If you were to lay all the components of the energy function out on a whiteboard, you would see that there is very little communication between them. They are all in their own silos.

But when you step back and look at the whole - it becomes apparent that there is inter-action between these functions that would not otherwise be obvious when you just focus on one individual element.

It is quite interesting to observe the close association of these individual elements. The whole takes on the appearance of a network and the elements are the nodes.

You could say it is a network of specialties with no communication links between them (In other words, there is no data flow between nodes)

Interactions

You need a brain that can connect the dots.

In a network, a microprocessor manages the data flow between nodes-it has the ability to analyze stored data from each node and produce useful results according to certain rules of engagement and organization.


Energy Interaction Group

An energy integration group plays the role of connecting the dots between the diverse functions, correlating data to form cause and effect, and supply a new insight into behaviors of building systems and facilities. The result is efficiency, (encompassing lower costs and high performance).

There is no one firm that has all these specialties – just as no single individual has all the knowledge and skills capable of all tasks within the energy/utilities/technology realm.

The group is not the typical energy consultant firm, with in-house personnel that has some knowledge of all the energy related facets of a building.
 
It is made up of independent specialists who are experts in their respective fields but are joined in a central core (or cooperative) that forms a collective knowledge and wisdom, which can be leveraged to produce hard and genuine results.

Reliable ControlsEach project or building is evaluated by the core group and managed by a designated case manager who is responsible for developing a strategic plan for a building.

Modeled on the likes of a medical group, that has a primary physician who directs the patient to a cardiologist or pulmonary specialist but holds all of the patients’ medical data.

Or a general contractor hired to construct a hi-rise building. They would have the master plans and coordinate all the various trades and sub-contractors- holding frequent meetings to discuss issues and scheduling to bring together a completed project.

In the Energy Integration Group, the specialists are independents who join the energy group because they have access to many more projects without time-consuming marketing and client calls. Plus, they have the advantage of central network with other like-minded members

The energy case manager is the central processor or dot connector who coordinates all activities according to a strategy that was originally developed by the group.

The benefits of this model are:

  1. The Group is the single point of contact for energy services and technology.
  2. Every building has a strategic plan to transition it to high performance standards (high efficiency, low costs, low emissions, technologically advanced).
  3. Continuously evaluates new technologies and services and filters out any in-appropriate ones while taking advantage of opportunities to apply new developments in building energy technologies.

The Group 



About the Author

Anthony Campbell has 37 years of experience operating and managing commercial office buildings in New York City. He worked for Vornado Realty Trust for the past 25 years and departed as Vice President of Energy & Sustainability before starting his own advisory service, Stanley & Mathews Associates, www.stanleymathews.com

He attended Dublin College of Technology and is a qualified electrician/technician. His other skills include building automation systems, applications development and energy information systems.   He actively participated on committees and organizations involved with utility restructuring, rate cases and distributed generation. He served as a member of:
•    New York City Department of Buildings Electrical Licensing Board
•    BOMA Energy & Sustainability Committee
•    New York Energy Consumer Council
•    Real Estate Board of New York
•    Advisor to the Mayors Task Force on Energy and Sustainability


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