Cal Rider is a Customer Success Manager with Aquicore. That means he works with clients to help them hit the ground running when they sign up and helps ensure that they get everything they need as our relationship evolves over time. Today, he’s talking about the steps that Aquicore takes first when one of its clients acquires a new building and highlighting one story in which those steps helped a client to find significant success.
I wanted to talk about Aquicore’s onboarding process because it’s one of my favorite parts of working with a new building! The onboarding process is all about showing your team how to interpret the data in Aquicore and identify potential areas of improvement. Because every building is different, there is no catch-all “do this to improve.” Instead, Aquicore gives you the tools you need to identify areas where you can reduce utility consumption and operating costs.
There’s one building in particular that provides a great example of how Aquicore works with your team to identify areas of improvement. Our client, an American real estate company that manages tens of millions of square feet worldwide, first partnered with us to optimize a 250,000 square foot building they manage in downtown D.C. The building had been renovated within the last ten years and was already performing well, but we were still able to make recommendations that led to a 30 percent reduction in annual energy costs.
One of the first things we noticed when we started looking at the data in the Aquicore platform was that this building was starting up shortly after 4 a.m. each day. This is actually pretty common in high-value buildings where tenants’ comfort takes priority over just about any other concern. Without the tools to measure building data in real time, management teams rely on their gut feeling to tell them the best time to start up their building, and they err on the side of caution so they don’t get tenant complaints without truly weighing the costs of that decision.
As soon as Aquicore is up and running, it’s no problem to see how long it will take a building to get to operating temperature and shift startup times forward accordingly. Everyone wins with this approach – asset owners save on operating costs, tenants get comfortable spaces, and engineers get peace of mind knowing that they aren’t going to be fielding temperature complaints come nine o’clock.
The next thing we look at is late shutdowns. Inevitably, we find that a few tenants are working late every day, causing the whole building to run for just them. There are a few ways to deal with this. Some newer buildings are able to condition individual tenant spaces or even zones within those spaces, which makes it simple to bill tenants for their overtime HVAC use, but this building wasn’t equipped for that. Another approach is to set a hard limit on operating hours and shut off HVAC at the end of the day regardless of tenant use. Because of the high-value tenants in the space, this wasn’t an option. The client opted for a third option: They worked with Aquicore to develop a protocol in our automated tenant billing system that lets tenants who request overtime hours pay for the additional costs incurred without burdening other tenants.
With the low-hanging fruit out of the way, we then started to focus on the building’s nighttime consumption, otherwise known as its base load. There’s almost always room for improvement in the baseload, and this is where we found the bulk of the savings for the client. The first step is finding out if you actually shutting off all of your equipment, which we do by installing submeters that measure the consumption of tenant spaces, common areas, and major building equipment to find out how much these problem areas are consuming, and when they are consuming. This arms your engineers with the information they need to find out where the overnight energy waste is and plug the leaks. In this case, it turned out that they were running a lot of the equipment we were monitoring all night. With this data, the engineers at this building were able to reduce the buildings baseload from 600 kilowatts 240 kilowatts in just a few months.
Another way to keep an eye on that base load is through submeter level alerting. Almost every building engineer can tell you about the piece of equipment in their building that makes them nervous, either about high consumption, or the risk of a critical failure. Aquicore helps engineers sleep a little easier at night by letting them set an alert on any piece of equipment, at any time. That way, they can make sure that every piece of equipment needs to be shut off at night is turning off.
Part of what makes me like the onboarding process so much is the way we’re able to help building engineers shine. No one knows the ins and outs of a building the way its engineer does, and it’s too rare that they get a chance to show their value in a way that owners and asset managers can see. Aquicore doesn’t just give them the tools to reduce electric consumption, it also gives them the data to say, “it was because of the steps I took here, here, and here.” It’s that kind of experience that keeps me coming in every day.