Achieving energy efficiency in multi-residential properties is the new normal. With the cost of utilities rising, apartment owners are constantly endeavoring to reduce their net operating costs while finding new and creative ways to market their buildings.
Energy efficiency in multi-residential properties can be achieved through various measures. The most common measures include:
- lighting retrofits
- implementing a tighter control on energy consumption
- replacing old, inefficient appliances
- using renewable, natural sources (many provincial incentive programs are available to offset the costs)
- comprehensive utility expense management
Top three reasons to achieve energy efficiency:
Electricity prices are on the rise. For the last five years, electricity prices have, on average, increased by 9.3 per cent annually in Ontario. They will continue to increase over the next 20 years, according to Ontario’s Long Term Energy Plan.
It’s an effective way to reduce operating costs. Energy efficient retrofits can vastly reduce the building’s net operating costs, which means an increase in the building’s net operating income.
Tenants today are seeking green buildings. Making the building more energy efficient has marketing benefits. As Canadians are becoming more interested in sustainability and sustainable living, a greener building is and will be a much more attractive place to live in than a non-green building.
Popular methods for achieving energy efficiency:
Submetering makes residents financially responsible for their personal utility use. Realizing the financial implications of their personal consumption incents individuals to reduce their in-suite consumption. For example, according to an analysis of 1,200 suites in 15 Toronto buildings, in-suite electricity consumption drops by up to 48 per cent when a building is submetered.
Changing to LED lights throughout a building is a great way to reduce energy consumption as they use up to 75 per cent less energy than standard incandescent lighting. They also last 25 times longer.
Adding motion sensors in a building’s garages and hallways can reduce energy consumption by up to 25 per cent.
Occupancy thermal based sensing for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) is an efficient way to reduce energy consumption by up to 25 per cent without compromising tenant comfort.
For electrically heated buildings, wireless thermostat control systems can save energy and costs on heating while improving tenant comfort.
Old, inefficient fridges and air conditioners use on average 15 per cent more energy than newer appliances.
While a conventional showerhead uses up to 27 litres per minute, a low-flow model uses 9 to 11 litres per minute. Hot water can account up to 25 per cent of a household’s total energy costs.
Take advantage of renewable, natural sources:
Green walls – or living walls – help reduce a building’s energy consumption in both hot and cold weather. In the summer time, the surface of a green wall is up to 10°C cooler than a non-green wall. During winter, the green wall provides an additional layer of air, which means extra insulation.
Installing rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems is another option to consider as Ontario’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program guarantees a building owner a fixed payment for a 20-year contract period while the generated solar power feeds into the grid system. After the 20-year contract is expired, the PV systems can stay on the roof and generate energy for the building.
Comprehensive utility expense management:
Comprehensive utility expense management, which includes auditing and benchmarking, is another effective tool available for owners and managers.
Energy benchmarking enables strategic building audits and infrastructure upgrades. Bill and rate auditing helps reduce unnecessary expenses as it’s not uncommon for expert bill auditors to find savings on utility bulk bills.
These allow owners and managers to choose the right methods and prioritize upgrades while reducing operating costs.
Mihae Ann is the marketing manager, multi-residential and commercial, of Wyse Metre Solutions.