Two Florida Cities Rank in the Top 25 for ENERGYSTAR

The ENERGY STAR Program, operating out of the US Department of Energy, just released their top 25 cities for energy efficient buildings for 2018 with two major Florida cities claiming a spot. Miami, a veteran on the list since 2012, came in at number 21 while Tampa ranked at number 16 in its first year. To be recognized on this list, Miami certified 106 buildings in 2017 totaling over 23.7 million sqft. and  Tampa certified 154 buildings totaling about 26.3 million sqft. The top two cities of Los Angeles and Washington, DC both had over 660 buildings certified that covered more than 145 million sqft. This is the first time in the lists’ nine year run that two Florida cities have made the list.

ENERGY STAR certified buildings are verified to be more energy efficient than 75% of similar buildings nationwide and use, on average, 35% less energy than typical buildings.  This has a direct effect of building operations’ budgets and something that Hill York has a proven track record of achieving. Please contact Hill York’s Technical Services Group to get started with an energy efficiency benchmark.

 

Cothrom Risk & Insurance Services

HYStat smart technology opened Cothrom Risk & Insurance Services eyes to the downtime-prevention power of a system that’s always on the alert for trouble. It also brought the comfort and energy efficiency they were looking for.

Project Name and Location:

Cothrom Risk & Insurance Services
2300 NE 9th Street, Suite 3
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304

Cothram-Case-Study

Client/Owner Contact:

Jordan Gillespie Partner
(754) 312-5408

Project Status:

Ongoing
Cothrom
Risk & Insurance Services

Project Scope:

As a rising insurance and risk management agency for a wide range of industries, Fort Lauderdale-based Cothrom knows the value of reducing losses and expenses by analyzing data. So when they had the chance to take better control of comfort and operating costs at their office by switching to a data-driven A/C monitoring service, they eagerly made the jump to Hill York’s HYStat.

With the agency in growth mode, HYStat’s smartphone app was an instant highlight. The remote connectivity and feature-rich functionality enabled an expanding team of partners who were working different schedules to easily view and change settings and manage office comfort levels outside of normal business hours.

As Hill York’s team of analysts monitored performance from a network operations center, Cothrom also saw the kind of data-driven communication they emphasize in serving their own clients. The upgrade to HYStat shed light on specific adjustments to enhance staff comfort, stabilize system performance, and generate cost reductions and efficiency gains. After the first full year under the HYStat program, Cothrom received a summary showing high marks for equipment performance despite its physical condition. The report did point out that a unit as old as theirs is vulnerable to breakdown.

“Giving Cothrom a data-based method to evaluate risks, make informed decisions and get a higher return on investment was something that closely mirrored their own service model,” said Hill York Senior Analyst Chris Hamilton. “That’s the heart of HYStat’s appeal – true predictive maintenance that contains costs, facilitates capital budgeting, and keeps unpleasant surprises from clouding an otherwise positive business outlook.”

Fatefully, it was a rapidly unfolding situation that prodded Cothrom’s management to fully embrace the technology. A small refrigerant leak in an outside air conditioning unit quickly grew, causing the system to freeze up during a hot spring day. The HYStat thermostat and sensors feeding live data to Hill York’s analysts detected a decline in cooling efficiency 24 hours before the leak became critical. An automated alert was issued and a call was made to Cothrom communicating the danger signs.

“Unfortunately, we put off service thinking we could just clean up the closet and it would all be fine,” acknowledged Jordan Gillespie, a partner at Cothrom. “The result was a broken unit and two days of downtime that created a very uncomfortable 82-degree office.”

Using HYStat’s remote capabilities before traveling to the site, a Hill York technician diagnosed the problem within 15 minutes of arriving and confirmed the need to replace the older unit.

“Our take-away from that experience was to believe in the analytical power of the technology to catch problems early and avoid unnecessary downtime,” observed Gillespie. “That’s why we invested in HYStat in the first place – data-rich remote monitoring backed by the professionalism of the Hill York team.”

In providing greater insight into their indoor climate and costs, HYStat supplies a power that’s putting Cothrom on very familiar ground: Being in control and able to analyze risks to make smart business decisions now and over the long term.

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Thermostat Wars: What’s Best For Your Business?

The lowest hanging fruit for potential energy and dollar savings in a home or office is your thermostat. On average, 10% in energy savings can be saved by dialing back an AC system’s temperatures by around 7-10 degrees for 8 hours a day. Doing this setback manually can be a hassle so there are different styles of thermostats to make it as easy as possible to realize savings; we look at programmable, connected, and smart thermostat’s below.

Programmable Thermostats

The most common thermostats are programmable. These have the ability to set a simple temperature schedule for a home or business based upon the day and time. This allows for a set temperature during business hours and a temperature setback during vacant hours. One of the issues of a programmable thermostat is their complexity. Knowing this, reading the manual and completing a proper set up are required to ensure energy and dollar savings.

Connected Thermostats

Newer to the scene are connected thermostats. These thermostats have all the features of a programmable thermostat with the ability to connect to the internet. Connected thermostats usually come with smartphone applications or a web portals to adjust temperatures and set schedules in real time, essentially solving any usability issues. The positioning of connected thermostats in the marketplace is as a bridge from programmable to smart thermostat’s.  This can benefit them as they offer ease of use but lack many of the new features consumers want such as learning algorithms, alerting, and enterprise solutions.

Smart Thermostats

In addition to having all the abilities of connected thermostats, smart thermostats feature additional sensors and built-in algorithms to manage runtime, energy use, and personal comfort. Common sensors on smart thermostats include: ambient temperature from multiple spaces, humidity, sunlight, outside weather, and occupancy. True value of the sensors is realized through the algorithms embedded in the thermostat firmware that learns habits, comfort levels, and schedules to keep a space comfortable while minimizing the HVAC runtime. Smart thermostats have higher upfront costs and are designed for residential applications.

HYStat

If you are a business owner looking for the best thermostat, turn to the connected thermostat from Hill York; HYStat. We monitor your systems 24/7 and apply our own algorithms to the data from the multitude of sensors installed to prevent condensate overflows and system downtime. In addition, we have a proven track record of energy savings after installation. Whether you want to have a thermostat that brings peace of mind or a thermostat that puts you in charge of saving money on maintenance and energy, HYStat is the best thermostat for your business.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) in Florida

Summer is just around the corner and now is the time to look at the projects that need to be accomplished at your home and business. When making decisions on which projects you complete and how you are going to pay for them, don’t forget to look into clean energy financing as one of your options.

In the tri-county area of South Florida, we have the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program available to us. Through property-based financing, PACE Florida alleviates the financial hurdles facing owners wanting to make sustainable upgrades to their property. Below are the top 3 reasons why the PACE program might be for you.

Zero Cost Upfront: The upfront costs of sustainability projects like energy efficiency, renewable energy, or wind mitigation can be daunting and limiting. PACE was created to remove that upfront cost barrier and allow anyone to make positive changes to their businesses and homes. The private lender pays the initial cost of the projects, which is then repaid over a 5-25 year period as a line item on your property taxes. In order to qualify with Ygrene, one of the PACE program lenders, you need:

  • 10% equity in your home,
  • To be current on your mortgage payments,
  • Not currently be in bankruptcy, and
  • To have not been late on your property taxes in the last three years.

Hundreds of Projects: Selecting projects to tackle through PACE financing can be a difficult decision because there are so many possible improvements to choose from. Examples of qualifying projects are high efficiency air conditioners, kitchen appliances, and LED lighting as well as new roofing, hurricane impact windows, insulation, solar panels, and water efficient fixtures and landscaping.

More Savings: The most tangible benefits that come from completing a sustainability project through PACE are how easy they are to complete, they raise your property’s value, lower utility bills, and reduce your insurance costs. In some cases, the savings you receive from updating your home or business will more than make up the amount of the loan attached to your property taxes. Every month that you have new, more energy efficient equipment is more money to be used how you see fit. In addition, because these upgrades mitigate risk to your home or business, you can see reductions in your insurance.

There are many ways to fund green and energy efficient projects. Having the PACE program available to use in South Florida is one of the best ways to make investments into your property and your pocket book.  For more information visit one of the local PACE program lenders or the Florida PACE informational site.

Buildings ‘get smart’ to improve comfort, save money, and reduce energy use

Today’s economy is one run by consumers and participants having unlimited information at their fingertips at all times.  This on-demand economy has brought smart technology and data analytics into all facets of business today.  The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) just released a report discussing how smart buildings upgrades are catching up to this new trend.  Among many other findings, they spoke to the energy saving potential that the South region of the United States has when it comes to smart heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for commercial buildings.

Making much more data and information available to a building operator is driving efficiency in large and small buildings all over the country.  Whereas a smart building with integrated systems can realize 30-50% savings, individual components can be added to small and medium businesses and save 5-15% with little money upfront.  HVAC technologies like smart thermostats, sensors, variable frequency drives, and cloud based energy information systems have huge potential for savings in Florida where HVAC use in commercial buildings accounts for over 50% of electricity consumption, which is significantly above the national average. A study referenced in the ACEEE report proved that rooftop package units installed with smart thermostat controls, multi-fan speeds, and demand control ventilation can save approximately 50% in electricity savings.

With the addition of the aforementioned smart controllers and sensors, real time data analytics can give visibility to a unit’s operating efficiency by the minute.  This advanced assessment of a building gives the operator an unprecedented look into run-time and efficiency so that nothing is wasted.  Hill York has been working with these new smart building solutions for more than 8 years with our Alerton and HYStat controls for large and small commercial buildings, respectively.  Seeing reports from the country’s leading energy efficiency minds further validates what Hill York has been advocating for years; smarter buildings make efficient buildings, which fuel smart businesses.

 

8 Ways to Leverage Your FPL Account

Some of the best resources to help businesses save money and energy are through the utility companies; and Florida has a shining example with Florida Power & Light (FPL).  Two reasons to take advantage of such programs are the energy savings and the fact that, as a ratepayer, you are helping fund the programs through fees on your utility bills. Since you are already paying for rebates, why not make sure that you reap the energy savings benefits? Below are the top 8 programs and rebates that you can implement in your business through Florida Power & Light.

Business Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC) Program

Replace your existing A/C unit or chiller with a qualifying, high-efficiency system and receive a rebate check from FPL. In addition to your rebate savings, the new systems will be more energy efficient and save you money; it literally pays for itself.

Demand Control Ventilation (DCV)

Control your building’s ventilation based off of occupancy to save your business energy and improve indoor air quality at the same time. Installation of a DCV sensor allows your building to adjust the amount of fresh air you are letting in depending on the occupancy, making sure your building is as efficient and cost saving as possible.

Business Custom Incentives (BCI)

An organization or business can upgrade their business equipment to be more energy efficient and receive a check from FPL. Upgrades that save over 25 kWh and meets other requirements detailed here, will qualify for the check and save money.

Thermal Energy Storage (TES)

Storing energy at night relieves energy demand during the day and helps FPL maintain the grid so they incentivise this. Using a TES system also reduces the runtime of your systems, which increases their lifespan and efficiency. Hill York successfully implemented one of the largest ice storage facilities in the United States at Nova Southeastern University central energy plant.

Commercial Demand Reduction Program

By adding a load management device to HVAC systems, businesses can receive a monthly rebate. This device will, in the event of high demand times for the utility, turn your system off and on to help reduce the overall load on the energy grid.

On Call® Program

Similar to the Commercial Demand Reduction Program, the On Call program will occasionally shut off your HVAC system during peak months to reduce the load on the grid. You can save $2 per ton on systems that are enrolled.

Power Monitoring Service

When the power goes out, it can be costly for your business.  FPL helps you minimize that costly down-time by continually monitoring your business for any power interruptions through a small device that immediately notifies the utility. Check out the FPL’s website for several case studies.

Business Energy Evaluation Plan

An FPL “Energy Expert” can help customize an energy savings plan for your business’ specific needs. This energy evaluation will look at everything from your lighting systems to your HVAC to your building envelope in order to find a plan that will best fit your needs.

These are just some of the savings opportunities through FPL that enable you to invest in what’s really important to your business. Hill York has a dedicated personnel team that can facilitate these rebates and better help you save money, energy, and time.  In order to learn more about these programs or find out specifics about qualifications, please visit this brochure page or contact one of our knowledgeable Hill York Team members.

Largest Energy Efficiency Standards in History – Part 1

Big Moves For Efficiency

As I have said in previous posts, energy efficiency manifests itself commercially in two ways: market advantage or federal standards. December ended up being a big month for the forwarding of energy efficiency standards under the Obama Administration. The two, newly implemented standards will save consumers approximately $168.1 billion dollars on utility bills over the next 30 years. This three-part blog will explore the implications of each of these monumental standards as well as the political and industrial ramifications.

Just days after the Paris agreement, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced the end result of negotiations between industry leaders and the federal government for commercial efficiency. The effort exerted by this diverse group of stakeholders resulted in new commercial air conditioning and furnace standards that supported current market momentum and future innovation. The energy efficiency standards, which will occur in two stages, are aimed at low-rise commercial buildings such as small offices, restaurants, big-box stores, and schools. Commercial air conditioners cool about half the commercial space in the nation according to the Department of Energy.

The Standard

The standard was finalised by 17 stakeholders, including utilities, efficiency organisations, and major HVAC contractors and manufacturers. The first phase of the standard commences in 2018 with a 13% improvement on efficiency. Then, in 2023, an additional 15% increase is required for commercial units. Over the next 30 years of sales, the result will be more than twice the kWh savings than any previous Department of Energy efficiency standard.

Quality Indoor Air Improves Worker Efficiency

Quality indoor air improves worker efficiency and, as we saw with the Express Scripts project, improving working conditions saves money and energy while increasing worker productivity. Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) published a study that examined the impact of quality indoor air on cognitive functions with heavy links back to workforce efficiency.

The participants were placed into controlled spaces that simulated conventional, green, and green+ conditions. EHP utilized nine different cognitive functionalities to test how the participants worked in the three spaces.

• Basic activity level (the ability to make decisions at all times)
• Applied activity level (the ability to make decisions geared towards overall goals)
• Focused activity level (the ability to pay attention to situations at hand)
• Crisis response (the ability to plan and stay prepared/strategize in emergency conditions)
• Information seeking (the ability to gather info as required from different sources)
• Information usage (the ability to use provided and gathered info towards goals)
• Breadth of Approach (the ability to make decisions along multiple dimensions and use a variety of options to obtain goals)
• Strategy (a complex thinking parameter, reflecting the ability to use well-integrated solutions)

The results revealed that, on average, cognitive scores were 61% higher in green spaces and 101% higher in green+ spaces when compared to the conventional space. The benefits beyond energy efficiency should also be taken into account when making your next equipment upgrade.

US Federal Government Passes Milestone on Efficiency

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced in February that the US federal government recorded the lowest total delivered-to-site energy use in 2013 since they started keeping track in 1975. With more than 350,000 buildings and 600,000 road vehicles, the federal government is our nation’s largest energy consumer at 0.96 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) totalling $24 billion. Because the government is the largest, there is room for improvement and an opportunity for saving. Sustainability goals set by the Energy Independence Act of 2007 and an executive order by President Obama in 2009 contributed heavily to the government’s decline in petroleum fuel consumption, energy intensity and consumption, and potable water consumption.

The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) also provides agencies with information, tools, and the assistance they need to plan, track, and meet their energy-related requirements and goals. The aforementioned sustainability goals included reducing the consumption per square foot of federal buildings by 30% from 2003 levels by 2015. With the help of FEMP, and the continued focus on energy efficiency by the administration, the federal government has decreased the energy intensity of its buildings by more than 45% from the baseline year of 1975.

Dedicating part of Hill York’s business to energy efficiency means that we are keeping up with trends in the industry and savings our clients energy and money. I know that, similar to the Federal Government, Hill York will build on our successes and achieve even greater levels of comfort for our clients.

Leveraging the Market and Government Policy

The private sector has been driving energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction as a part of a sustainability movement for the past 10 years. Companies and industries such as Microsoft and Coca Cola, and many more, now release sustainability reports so that consumers can see everything that they are doing to help reduce the impact made by their product or service. Apart from the private sector, governments are now pushing the sustainability movement even further with new goals to reach and a plan on how to get there.

In November of 2014, the Obama administration announced a joint sustainability venture with China to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26% below 2005 levels in the United States by 2025 and to peak carbon emissions by 2030 in China. In late March, the United States submitted its plan to achieve such reduction in greenhouse gases that included reducing building sector emissions and four other actions. One way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was the utilization of the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool to benchmark buildings and drive efficiency through building upgrades and efficient appliances. Other possible ways to achieve this is offering federal rebates for efficiency upgrades or grants on both the state and federal level.

What does this mean for Hill York, a company at the forefront of efficiency in Florida? It means that while we have been operating on a market driven wave of efficiency, we can leverage new sustainability goals by the US to bring Energy Solutions throughout the state. Hill York is already using Portfolio Manager and has benchmarked many facilities that have grown into large-scale efficiency projects. We also recently secured two Energy Solutions jobs by leveraging state grant money to improve energy efficiency; a perfect example of keeping up with all the tools at our disposal. Read, download, and print the press release here. Our business is driven by both the “invisible hand” of the market as well as government policy, and staying on top of both has put Hill York at the front of the industry.