Lessons from our residential energy-saving investments white paper

5 minutes read

Our white paper that focuses on the wide range of energy-saving investments residential building owners can make to improve the efficiency, performance, and ultimately value of their properties. To highlight its conclusions and insights, we’re sharing a new article focusing on the biggest takeaways we arrived at in the white paper.

1. It all comes back to costs and savings

Odds are good that the core goal of any energy-saving effort is to save money on operations and maintenance. As we discuss in the white paper, building retrofit costs range from $2 to $7 per square foot. Meanwhile, installing a Building Management System could add an additional $2.5 to $7 to that. 

On the other hand, the savings generated from spending that amount of money can be significant, with LED lighting saving up to 85 percent of their cost of operation. According to David Pogue, CBRE’s National Director of Sustainability, “generally, utility costs are approximately $2.50 a square foot ($27 per sq m), and if we reduce energy use by 20 percent, we’ve saved 50 cents a foot ($5.40 per sq m).” 

There are other savings to keep in mind, too. LED lights that burn less energy also last a lot longer. This reduces maintenance workloads. And deploying BMS on-site as well as sensors and intelligent systems can result in significant productivity boosts throughout the entire property organisation, leading to even greater savings of time and money down the road. 

2. How long to see an investment ROI?

There are significant benefits to energy-saving investments across a residential portfolio but it is also critical to consider how long it typically takes to see those benefits kick in. For instance, two to three-year payback timeline projects include things like upgrades to ventilation, lighting, and building controls. Heating and ventilation components take in the ballpark of five years and major HVAC projects can push that up to eight. 

In addition to those timelines, it’s important to consider that non-financial benefits will kick in, in many cases, well before the complete payback timeline. The productivity boosts of a software suite or the time saving benefits of more efficient appliances kick in as soon as they are installed. 

3. Benefits beyond the dollar sign

In addition to the cost and productivity benefits above, we spend a significant amount of time in the white paper discussing the additional benefits that energy-saving investments offer. At a high level, the two major areas we explore here are occupier satisfaction, gamification, and smart building status. 

Occupier satisfaction is critical to ensuring that tenants re-sign their leases. Promoting energy use visibility is a prime way to drive this benefit. Giving access to a dashboard that shows residents how much energy they are using every day helps tie residents to their building and increase satisfaction. As we discuss in the white paper, “Tenants that know they’re making a positive impact through their efforts will feel more connected to the building and community.” 

In addition to satisfaction, we also discuss the gamification element. By helping residents get in touch with how their choices can save energy, property owners can inject a bit of game logic into the drive to save energy. According to Comly Wilson, Director for Enertiv, an energy management software provider, “20,000kW of usage doesn’t mean anything to occupants. But, if you express the consumption as an environmental equivalent like cutting down 800 trees, you’re going to get their attention.”

Finally, we explore smart building status. Certifications such as LEED or BREEAM bring multiple benefits of their own, such as rent and sale price premiums. Getting certified also offers a chance to benchmark performance both within a portfolio and against competing ones. If you’re already planning an energy efficiency push, qualifying for a certification may be very easy to also attain as part of the same process.

Making the right investments to save energy is challenging but with our white paper, we hope to set property owners off on the path to success. For more on the subject, download the free white paper or get in touch here.

10. June 2022
5 minutes read


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