Sustainable Construction Management Services
Audits & Assessments
Every new investment should be viewed with a substantial business justification. Building owners may not understand the metrics and valuations of investments in their facilities without access information that fits their business model and their unique needs.
To facilitate proper analysis of investments, ASHRAE has established audit levels to describe the level of intensity afforded in developing investment criteria for the owner’s use.
ASHRAE Level 1
The ASHRAE Level-1 audit is focused on the identification of the potential for energy efficiency improvements, understanding the overall building configuration, and defining the type and nature of energy systems.
This audit intended to help the owner and the energy audit team understand how the building performs relative to its peers; establish a baseline for measure others of similar age, size, and usage regionally.
The starting point for identifying the opportunities for energy optimization
ASHRAE Level 2
A Level-2 audit builds upon the findings of Level 1 and examines each consuming energy system or variable, the possible improvements (energy conservation measures) to be considered, and their economics.
The entire building envelope, HVAC and lighting, water usage, hot water and storage, equipment loads, plugs loads, compressed air, and any process loads are studied.
While many ECMs (Energy Conservation Measures) identified during the L2 audit can be implemented with quick or instant financial payback, others will need more detailed analysis to establish their benefit to the owner. If the audit identifies larger, more ambitious ECMs that affect multiple building systems or business operations, it may be necessary to dig deeper into the building operation as well as the human factors influencing overall performance. This is where the ASHRAE Level-3 audit would be required.
Detailed surveys and analysis of the entire building and its use:
ASHRAE Level 3
A Level 3 audit is used to evaluate complex ECMs, and to pursue the recommendation of the L2 review in-depth and in a manner relative to the owner’s evaluation criteria, with additional focus on business, operational and human interactions. Typically these projects will require significant financial investment and planning. The audit team will interact with the owners of financial managers to develop proper assessment criteria.
Also called an investment-grade audit, L3 can include specific assessment criteria established with the owner, and include real property metrics including relative property value impacts, increased business performance and complete investment profiles including maintenance and operations, expandability, leasing options, tax depreciation, etc.
Detailed ECM descriptions, demand-management options, investment, and real property analysis
Lighting Audits and Studies
We are often asked to review and critique audits performed by others when those efforts have fallen short of the mark for the owner. One area in which we see this repeatedly is lighting.
Most large facilities have performed either partial or complete lighting replacements within the past ten years. A lighting firm comes in and provides a free audit, a proposal for a good ROI, and in many cases, financing. They sell the lights and subcontract the installation.
There is no downside to lighting upgrades, but there is a catch that is typically overlooked.
Most large facilities are over lit. Standards for correct lighting levels are published by IESNA (Illuminating Electrical Society of North America). Audits that do not assess the proper light levels and the impact of space size, shape, color, height, and purpose will typically replace every light one-by-one.
MFS can perform detailed studies where the number of fixtures replaced can be significantly decreased, and where variation in the type of fixtures and controls results in better performance. Nothing saves more money than turning things off or removing unneeded energy-consuming devices. Even if your facility has performed an upgrade, there are good reasons to consider assessing it again.
Energy & LEED
Metropolitan Facilities Solutions teams with LEED-certified professionals and has delivered EnergyStar® and LEED projects in the Washington, DC region. We provide energy management and sustainability consulting for owners and assist in determining the economics of investment if certifications.
In Washington, DC, all new construction over 50,000SF must be LEED-certified; but now existing buildings must also provide energy use plans and meet standards put in place by the DCRA. This requires your facility to be benchmarked in the Department of Energy’s EnergyStar Portfolio Manager.
Soon, renovation projects will have to meet EnergyStar. Think of EnergyStar as an escalator and LEED as a long, steep set of stairs. The visibility that comes from either certification is valuable. Still, in terms of investment or reinvestment in existing facilities, the EnergyStar certification is much less complicated and capital intensive to obtain. It is also much less complicated to maintain and recertify.
If the facility under consideration is of masonry construction (high-thermal mass), achieving the EnergyStar certification will typically revolve around improving HVAC and lighting efficiency, sealing the building envelope, insulation, and windows. It is based on the percentage of reduction achieved by the project(s) and compares your facility to others within the region.
LEED certification involves a complex mix of credits that include all of the above but also includes interior furnishings and finishes, outdoor plantings, irrigation, hard paved parking surfaces, and a host of other environmental considerations. The decision to go LEED in non-government buildings will include understanding the potential increase in property values and lease rates, market demand, public relations, and business marketing.
The advancement in automation platforms has been driven mainly by the development and adoption of BACnet. BACnet stands for Building Automation Control Network, which is a communications protocol for building automation and control networks.
BACnet was designed to allow open communication within building automation and control systems for applications such as heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning control, lighting control, access control, and fire detection systems and their associated equipment.
BACnet (open-protocol) automation for buildings has given owners the ability to install and own practical tools for managing energy and operating costs. The installation costs associated with direct digital control (DDC) systems, including graphics and internet connectivity, have decreased markedly in the past ten years. Open protocol systems are excellent solutions for aging pneumatic (air) control systems.
However, there is a caveat. The industry standard ‘upgrade’ doesn’t address the existing deficiencies in HVAC systems. The savings available from any investment assumes all of the controlled equipment and systems are fully operational and maintained.
Investment-driven projects are based on an expected ROI. The energy and maintenance savings that DDC systems are calculated to deliver are ‘stipulated.’ That’s an industry term for assumed, meaning they are going to have numerous exclusions for existing conditions and for changes in the operating assumptions used when the payback was calculated.
Without understanding the cost of the repairs or changes needed to existing systems in advance and including those costs in the investment calculations, these projects seldom perform as intended.
The larger an organization is, the more heavily it relies upon the facility manager and support service staff to keep the day to day business operations running efficiently. The challenges these professionals and skilled trades face in responding to daily needs from within the organization are daunting.
Tenants and employees only see a fraction of what facilities services do, and it is usually from a personal standpoint. When they have a problem or need help, do they get it in a reasonable time, is the result satisfactory, is the matter fully resolved, and was the experience acceptable overall. What they don’t see is the organization, skills, planning, and prioritization running in the background to keep their work operations and work experience productive and pleasant.
There is a considerable amount of equipment and system maintenance required in any facility, and the manpower available must balance that workload against reactive service calls, emergencies, and unexpected needs from business operations and management.
MFS works within facilities organizations to improve and streamline processes and to help facilities interact more effectively with capital planning and business operations. We have many years of experience in managing facilities and structuring effective maintenance and operations platforms. MFS Vice-President is a licensed, 1st Class Operating Engineer in the District of Columbia.
Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS)
Also referred to as computerized maintenance management information system (CMMIS), a CMMS software package maintains a computer database of information about an organization’s maintenance operations.
This information is used to help maintenance workers do their jobs more effectively. For example, determining which machines require maintenance and which storerooms contain the spare parts they need. The information is also used to help management make informed decisions, like calculating the cost of machine breakdown repair versus preventive maintenance for each machine, possibly leading to better allocation of resources.
CMMS may be used by any organization that must perform maintenance on equipment, assets, and property, and can be used to verify regulatory compliance.
Some products focus on particular industry sectors (e.g., the maintenance of vehicle fleets or health care facilities). Other products aim to be more general. They can produce status reports and documents that provide details or summaries of maintenance activities. The more sophisticated the package, the more analytical capabilities are available.
One drawback of CMMS in many organizations is the lack of proper process development and dedicated staff assigned to manage it daily. The volume of information that can be compiled in a large organization’s facility requires daily oversight to keep it current and to maintain accuracy.
Alternative Financing Options
PACE – ‘Property Assessed Clean Energy’ is a government-funded program that provides capital to property owners for energy improvements that include the upgrade of aging, inefficient equipment, and systems in buildings.
The funds are repaid over the life-cycle of the equipment, often up to 20 years, through a tax-assessment that is placed on the property.
PACE programs are in place in 30 states, including Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
These programs are a great way to get access to capital for improvements that will directly reduce your energy and operating costs.
PACE funds are available to for-profit and non-profit organizations regardless of whether you pay property taxes.
The full story on PACE and the ways it can be leveraged for your organization is too extensive to cover here. In our resources and affiliations page, there are references to the local PACE programs.