HOMES AND COMMUNITY RENEWAL (HCR) BENCHMARKING PROGRAM: Transforming the energy data collection process into a user-friendly decision-making tool.
Working with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Energy Efficiency For All New York campaign, Steven Winter Associates, Inc. (SWA) and WegoWise are piloting a benchmarking program for the New York State Homes & Community Renewal portfolio. The initiative started with 150 NY State Mitchell-Lama and Housing Authority Properties. This enhanced benchmarking project is sponsored by NRDC and includes nearly 70 million square feet and 65,000 units in its scope. The goal is to transform the energy data collection process (terminated in 2010 due to labor-intensive process and usability issues) into a user-friendly decision-making tool.
Through the partnership with WegoWise, a utility data tracking software company, energy use data was collected, analyzed using ENERGY STAR’s Automated Benchmarking System (ABS), and presented to both HCR and representatives from participating properties. Our team provided quantitative feedback including data quality and property characteristic verification, information on the property’s energy efficiency compared to similar building stock, total energy savings potential, and a list of action items.
Benchmarking results for the first round of 23 tested properties indicate an estimated energy savings potential of nearly 19%. As a point of reference, NYSERDA’s Multifamily Performance Program requires a minimum of 15% savings to qualify for financial incentives. Projected at 19%, the first round figure represents nearly $3.6 million dollars in annual energy cost savings. This equates to an average per-unit savings potential of roughly $500. Based off of these savings figures, a property can realize a project with a 7-10 year payback for an investment in the vicinity of $3,500 – $5,000 per unit. Building upon these benchmarking results, we partnered with NRDC’s Center for Market Innovation team to provide funding for Level II Energy Audit services to three NYC properties. Of these affordable-rate properties, one is approaching refinance, one a gas conversion and the third is planning capital upgrades. We are conducting analyses to aid these properties in selecting appropriate work scopes to reduce energy costs, improve occupancy comfort, and reduce maintenance.