Understanding code creep

In retrofit and tenant improvement projects
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
by Jed Dorsheimer

Understanding code creep and why Canadian property owners need to be aware of foreign, just as much as local policy when it comes to tenant improvement and retrofit opportunities.

It’s often said that Las Vegas, NV is the future of hospitality for the rest of world. Why? Because the return on investment (ROI) of keeping customers in the casinos or clubs is so high it trumps otherwise egregious investments. Where else can you find RGB backlighting 100 foot dancing fountains in a desert? Macau? Dubai? Certainly, as they have the same intent and objectives in mind. Greed still trumps green in most cases. While hospitality in other regions might not have a casino or nightclub with some famous DJ, as technology costs fall, the ROI on what made sense in Las Vegas in years past found its way to other cities globally. The same is happening in the world of energy conservation in office building.

When referring to energy conservation, we don’t look to Las Vegas, but California instead. Over the past 30 years California, with one of the largest economies in the U.S., has remained flat in terms of per capita energy consumption, while the other 49 states have seen on average a 50 per cent increase. To this end, Title 24, once seen as a California only policy, is now being seen as a successful microcosm for the rest of the 49 states, Canada, and parts of Europe. Last month for example, Texas adopted IECC ’15. While there are many components and nuances involved in IECC ’15, in short the lighting module of the code resembles T24 with respect to lighting and daylighting requirements. As such, we suspect other states and cities to follow with similar modalities.

In New York City with 18 per cent of energy usage consumed by lighting, most of it large 100,000 square foot buildings, a migration path known as Local Law 88 has been instituted between now and 2025. While this may sound like a long lead time, considering commercial leases are often signed for 10 years, renovation decisions need to be made now with future proofing as a key variable. Based on the above, we believe that understanding code “creep” is critical in planning, even if your jurisdiction does not have onerous requirements at the moment, but it will soon. We view understanding the idea and concept of future proofing to meet code compliance today and more importantly tomorrow, as the greatest gift we can provide.

At Acuity Brands, we follow a lean manufacturing model. In order to achieve our goals and exhibit constant improvements that are demanded, we need to constantly recalibrate our measurements so we can improve off of more competitive metrics. We believe the same holds true for energy conservation. You cannot improve what you can’t measure! Therefore, we believe that LL88, which requires tenant sub metering (>10,000 square feet) will not only be an effective tool to help tenants improve on energy efficiency goals but more importantly, allow property owners to further engage with their customers/tenants. The combination of sub-metering, BAS, efficient chillers and air handling units, lighting controls, and energy efficient lights can result in payback periods of sub three years with a combination of energy saving and utility scale rebates/demand response programs.

So how do we assist customers large and small to execute on retrofit or tenant improvement projects? One way is through DETI. We jokingly refer to this initiative as Damn Easy to Install. This flows through all of our innovation whether a simple Light Air wireless switch to our latest Rubik Grayscale fixture. Our goal is to bring complicated technologies and make them simple and affordable for mainstream adoption. Products need to be easy to use, easy to install, and easy to commission.

What is the message to the large and small property owner contemplating a retrofit or tenant improvement project? Involve key stakeholders early and look to other regions with more onerous code as a potential design challenge. Lowest initial cost can often result in highest operating costs, competitively pricing your building out of the market in years to come. As a property manager, operating costs are often key in maximizing utilizations rates, minimizing turnover, resulting in maximum net operating income.

Jed Dorsheimer serves as vice president, commercial office vertical for Acuity Brands. He is responsible for the strategic marketing across Acuity’s broad product portfolio within the commercial office domain, inside and outside of the building’s envelope. More information at: www.acuitybrands.com/commercialoffice-insights. Upcoming webcast: http://one.acuitybrands.com/commercial-office-webinar

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