The Future of Property Energy Management Looking Bright
- Mar 23, 2015
Costa Mesa, Calif.—NWP Services Corp. (NWP) hosted their Fifth Annual NWP Energy Summit in Washington, D.C., March 11-13. Top executives and policymakers in the industry shared big picture energy trends, sustainability case studies, conservation recommendations and guidelines to navigating today’s highly-regulated business environment. 26 individuals representing 21 portfolios from some of the largest multifamily managers and owners nationally were in attendance.
Representing vital industry experts and policymakers were Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of the Environment (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), GreenBiz Group Inc., U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Climate Prediction Center (CPC). Joel Makower, chairman and executive director of GreenBiz Group Inc., was the keynote speaker and explained what the current sustainability strategy for corporate brands looks like.
Makower described how brands go about evaluating their green actions through marketing and strategy. He said it’s a risk factor for businesses to ignore sustainability and brands are doing more but you don’t hear about it as much. Energy Star® Manager Michael Zatz illustrated how the EPA rates businesses’ energy scores, disclosed methods for scaling statistics and discussed the financial benefits of being a sustainable business.
“Conservation is moving from marketing conversations and “what’s it going to do for us” conversations into operational execution,” Ron Reed, chief executive officer of NWP, told MHN. “Nobody’s really wondering if this is something they should consider, those conversations are really quite behind us. Owners and finance sources recognize energy conservation is core to making their assets valuable.”
Washington, D.C.’s Green Buildings Initiative, which is focused on making the District of Columbia the healthiest, greenest and most livable city in the United States in one generation from now, was shared by Jay Wilson, Program Analyst for the Department of the Environment. Rich Tinker, Meteorologist of the Climate Prediction Center, emphasized the significance of our nation’s drought and shared insightful metrics that prove it’s one of the most complex natural disasters in the world. A special appearance was made by Trisha Miller, senior advisor to HUD Secretary Julian Castro, to share what HUD is currently doing to reduce energy consumption in multifamily buildings.
Other key points included updates presented by NWP’s sub-metering department concerning existing regulatory concerns and requirements influencing utility and energy management programs for property owners and managers as well as from NWP’s regulatory team who noted a number of legislative developments nationally. Case studies on reducing water costs and detecting water leaks were also showcased.
Reed is optimistic about where the future of energy management is headed. “The ability for information to be gathered is evermore real time,” Reed told MHN. “The ability to learn if I’ve got a leak in a toilet or there’s abnormal water consumption at two in the morning, with all the new metered technology we’re rolling out we can do that in real-time. That’s pushed us to put in place brand new software solutions because sorting through signal versus noise, finding out what I should take action on versus the other 90 million things I shouldn’t be looking at, that’s where we’re heading as well. The opportunity for centralized control of activity, that’s the future, even more so than I’ve seen in the past. That will allow us to have a hybrid model of the smart home and smart hotel being combined into a new business model around multifamily.”
Reed explained that what’s happening in the hotel and home industry with smart thermostats and lighting is becoming very clear. He said that technology will find its way into the multifamily industry but it will be different with a hybrid model. The scenario he used is when you check into a hotel in Florida, for example, they know to start cooling the room as soon as they hand you a key. They then know when you check out to move the thermostat to an ambient temperature. He said they save a ton of money this way by integrating their control system into their reservation system. A similar type of integration will find its way into the multifamily industry but tied to the property management system. When a resident moves out, the property manager can move the thermostat to an ambient temperature and a maintenance person can adjust it in between. “I’m watching the technology price curve come down and the business models are unfolding, a smart apartment is coming, but we, as an industry, just aren’t quite sure what it looks like,” Reed said.
He also says he notices “in the public sector the policymakers are really well underway making decisions and the decisions and experience they have outside our market are coming to our market. We’re already starting to see that. I wouldn’t be surprised to see things first show up in low-income where the federal and municipal governments have a lot more influence and control.”