First performance-oriented efficiency retrofitting brings savings

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SAN FRANCISCO — Gridium’s energy efficiency retrofit project, built at 550 Montgomery St. on behalf of Downtown Properties, is the first to take advantage of PG & E’s full commercial building program. This performance-based program rewards customers financially for every unit of energy saved.

As-built, this project is expected to improve building operations, exceed project costs through energy savings in five years, and reduce annual energy costs by $ 0.26 per square foot, or 15% of total energy costs.

“Our new program measures efficiency savings with innovative, normalized, metered energy consumption methods and leverages the advanced technology of SmartMeters. This first project shows that measuring the energy at the meter is the next decisive step towards greater energy efficiency. We can now incentivize project-based savings that we see on the meter while helping the savings persist and meet everyone’s economic goals, ”said Aaron August, VP of Business Development and Customer Engagement at PG&E.

The normalized measured energy consumption approach measures changes in energy consumption across the building level. This means that an energy modernization project can be comprehensive and have lower transaction costs for building owners. The 550 Montgomery retrofit includes LED lighting, highly efficient electric motors and boiler controls. And since the savings are measured over time, incentive payments can be made over time as energy efficiency is fed into the power grid in real time.

In addition, the approach to measuring normalized energy consumption also enables customized calculations of the basic energy consumption of buildings. The consideration of non-routine events is now possible, such as B. the decrease in energy consumption at 550 Montgomery St. due to COVID-related shifts in occupancy.

“Value is at the core of our approach to property building, and leveraging two innovative PG&E programs to improve our sustainability is an exciting way to achieve those goals,” said S. DeMarco Carter, vice president of property management, Downtown Properties. “In addition to the economic benefits of this refurbishment, we hope to motivate our tenants to further reconsider their energy efficiency practices and sustainability efforts. Working with Gridium on the project really made the whole process easier. “

The turnkey project development offer from Gridium begins with its energy analysis software and a free, contactless initial assessment.

“We do the investment grade audit, coordinate with PG&E and meet the requirements of the various programs and monitor ongoing performance over time,” said Aaron Panzer, Managing Director of Gridium Alpha. “It is exciting to break new ground under these operating conditions together with the teams from Downtown Properties and PG&E and to advance the standard for a standard-compliant energy project with measured energy consumption.”

The project involved upgrading the remaining 50% of the interior lighting to highly efficient LED luminaires, which provide a higher quality of light for around 40% of the energy. An additional air unit on the roof has been retrofitted with two new, highly efficient motors and controls to enable reduced fan speeds that precisely adjust the ventilation requirements throughout the day and week. In addition, a hydraulic boiler controller was installed to enable outdoor air resets and sequential control strategies that result in energy savings.

“We have two PG&E programs in this building. The first program, PG & E’s On-Bill Funding Program, incentivizes building owners to achieve energy savings by letting tenants’ utility bills cover the cost of retrofitting based on the energy savings they have made. The second program, the new overall commercial construction program, is being used for the first time in this building. It effectively turns the building into a virtual powerhouse of energy efficiency, ”Tom Arnold, CEO of Gridium, told GlobeSt.com. “Gridium is expert in combining these programs to get the best result. It is a win-win situation for owners and tenants and a great benefit for the environment. The new program treats office buildings like virtual power plants by paying them for the efficiency resources they deliver to the grid over time as it increases the results of sustainability projects like this one at 550 Montgomery. “

The upgrades, funded entirely by PG & E’s on-bill funding program, bypassed the building’s capital budget to meet efficiency goals and create an improved environment for tenants. Funding for the project from PG&E was critical as the building was otherwise not budgeted. PG&E will fund the energy upgrades to offset the energy savings and then add loan repayment fees to the monthly utility bill. The loan is measured in this way in order to ensure invoice neutrality and at the same time to enable a proportionate cost recovery. Tenants benefit from a better built environment without increasing the total cost of ownership.

“Our goal is to create distinctive spaces for tenants to do their best work,” said Dennis Collins, property manager at Downtown Properties. “Gridium’s turnkey project delivery means that they carry out the upgrades while we can focus on this uniquely challenging time. And with PG & E’s on-bill funding program, this historic building can upgrade its systems without affecting our investment budget. “

The role of commercial buildings in climate change remains a key factor in design and construction. It is estimated that US commercial buildings are responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions.

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