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.

 

Hill York’s HYStat Monitoring Helps ANF Group, Inc. Enjoy Surprise-Free A/C

ANF-Group-ArticleAs one of South Florida’s leading general contracting and construction management companies, ANF Group, Inc., has more pressing things to think about than their own air conditioning system. So when Hill York told this longtime industry partner about the benefits of HYStat smart technology monitoring, ANF saw a chance to put their cooling system on cruise control.

Now, a year after the install, the promise of predictive, data-based A/C monitoring has more than lived up to its potential. The  installation of four HYStat thermostats on the rooftop package units of ANF Group’s Davie headquarters has stabilized performance, maximized energy management, and taken surprises out of the equation.

“From an information and communication point of view, HYStat has empowered us to stay a step ahead of cooling system issues and basic preventative maintenance,” said ANF Group, Inc. Contract Administrator Viki Moore. “With real-time data notifications from both the program and our contacts at Hill York, we’re never left in the dark about system performance, utility costs, or even when it’s time to change the filters.”

According to Hill York Senior Analyst Chris Hamilton, ANF Group, Inc’s monitoring and service upgrade to HYStat from a traditional maintenance contract has been a study in data-driven peace of mind.

“ANF’s rooftop systems are seven years old – more than halfway through the normal lifecycle,” he observed. “It’s reassuring to see that the key data confirms the equipment performance, runtime, and physical condition are all on track and going strong. If anything  changes down the line, they’ll be able to plan smart maintenance and capital decisions with the data provided.” Until then, ANF Group, Inc. is happy to enjoy the surprise-free comfort and control that HYStat’s analytical power makes possible. After all, when you’re out building some of South Florida’s most prominent education and healthcare facilities, it’s nice to know you have the perfect climate for cooling off back at the office.

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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.

 

Cities Set New ENERGY STAR Benchmarking Requirements

As I referenced in a post earlier this week, business driven markets and government policy go hand in hand with Energy Solutions. With the consistent trend toward long-lasting infrastructure improvements and smarter buildings in most industries across the country, it’s no wonder why we see government policy working to accelerate the savings of both money and energy.

Government regulation can be on a macro (federal) level between countries and a micro (city) level, like the movements we are seeing today. Cities across the nation are adopting policies requiring building owners to benchmark and publicly report on their energy use through ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager.

Adding to the list of 17 in the past months, Portland, Atlanta, and Berkeley join cities like New York, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Denver, and Philadelphia as municipalities that are making it easy for Energy Solutions to be implemented. It’s only a matter of time before Florida cities like Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville enact policies that require ENERGY STAR Benchmarking. When they do, Hill York will be there as an ENERGY STAR Partner with over 6 years experience and a Portfolio of over 100 buildings benchmarked already.

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.

Seeking Refunds for Misapplied Utility Rates

An issue first unearthed by the Cutrale debacle of Leesburg, Florida, is dredged up once again for over a dozen companies served by Duke Energy Florida.  The utility is admitting that some business customers are paying higher rates than they should, but Duke is refusing to compensate those companies for what they overpaid. Tampa Bay Times Article Here.

A number of factors go into creating these situations, but they all stem from a business not having knowledge and personnel needed to choose the correct rate. Investor Owned Utilities (IOU’s) like Duke Energy Florida, Florida Power & Light, and Tampa Electric offer a slew of different rates for the electricity they provide based on a number of factors like, how much you use, when you use it, how you use it, and many more. In an effort to try and simplify the convoluted choices, the different types of business rates can be placed in a 40×15 matrix as seen to the left.

For buildings like the First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg in the Times article above, who had been placed into the wrong rate structure, the matrix did little to help their billing department know something was wrong. As a result, they paid over $20,000 more than they should have and they are not alone. This is such a big problem that former employees of the IOU’s are leaving and starting businesses that review customers’ utility bills, save them money by getting on the right rate, and split the savings.

There are many companies that exist to monitor utility bills so that businesses can focus on their own industry and not worry about their energy bills. In fact, Hill York’s Energy Solutions group has energy service agreements that benchmark energy use, analyze utility bills, and monitor equipment while identify deficiencies that might cost you money. These services range in price depending on the customer, but like the aforementioned shared savings agreement, you could pay nothing upfront.

This case study describes the efficiency offerings we have while also singling out two instances where Hill York discovered discrepancies in utility bills with a value of over $80,000 and $18,000.

Energy Efficiency Solutions with ENERGY STAR Data Trends

Hill York Energy Solutions utilizes data and systems from the US Department of Energy called, ENERGY STAR. The ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool allows Hill York to benchmark buildings in our portfolio and compare energy use to similar buildings around the country.

That being said, ENERGY STAR has a plethora of information that is available to anyone and everyone who wants to learn about energy efficiency for work or for home.
Data Trends, visualizations compiled from all of the information in Portfolio Manager to track trends and report findings, was recently released by ENERGY STAR. The Data Trends took the comprehensive data from all building types and focused on reporting upon the specific characteristics about similar buildings.

Each two page PDF takes the information for the sector and builds a report that gives helpful visual data as well as easy-to-read paragraphs explaining the data and highlighting important or interesting facts. For example, the illustration above depicts the states that have benchmarked offices in the Unites States with the darkest blue being the most. It also explains a typical operating profile for a building so that anyone can explain why some offices are more efficient than others.

The use of big data like this to improve the efficiency of commercial buildings cannot be overstated. With so much data at its fingertips, ENERGY STAR has visualized information for thousands of buildings across the country and made it easy to access so that all property owners can benefit. The first step to managing a building and its energy use is to first measure it, create a benchmark, and set goals for reduction; ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager is the perfect tool to accomplish this. Check out the different sectors that these Data Trends were created for and read the ones for the sector you are interested in here.

Where Does Your Electricity Come From?

Historically, there has been a perception that electric bills were set in stone and that you would just pay the bill without giving it a second thought. This disconnect and inability to manage the largest controllable operating expense of a company stems from a lack of education on where and how our energy is produced.

Florida’s electric generation is unique in that the state’s population is 6.2% of the US, they consume 5.97% of the electricity, and emit 4.23% of the total carbon dioxide emissions. So as a population, the people of Florida consume and pollute less per capita than most states when it comes to electricity generation. In the chart below with information from the Energy Information Administration, you’ll see that 81.6% of Floridians’ electricity comes from fossil fuels (Natural gas and coal). This is common throughout the United States, although it should be noted that Florida is second largest consumer of natural gas for electricity production in the country, which burns cleaner than coal.

The process of burning those fossil fuels, transforming them to electricity, and transporting that electricity to the consumer involves a great deal of waste. In fact, for every 10 units of fossil fuels burned, only 1 unit of electricity will make it to the consumer. This fact illustrates the importance of energy efficiency because for every 1 unit that is saved by the consumer, 10 units of fossil fuels will be left unburned. Evoking Energy Solutions to conserve energy at the end user saves money for the consumer who is spending less, it saves money for the utility who does not have to build new power plants, and it saves the environment by polluting less; the ever elusive win/win/win.

Congressional Action Aims to Improve Energy Efficiency

Congress on Tuesday passed the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 that will drive energy efficiency through modest but meaningful measures. The bill, signed into law by President Obama on April 30th, 2015, has been hailed by Congress as being good for the economy and good for the environment.

The bill is made up of four sections that include: better buildings, grid enabled water heaters, energy efficient government technology, and energy information for commercial buildings. With all four sections bearing significance in their own right, the last section is a simple, cost neutral solution that will lead to positive change. This section requires federally leased buildings without ENERGY STAR certifications to be benchmarked using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and disclose its energy use report wherever practical.

The U.S. Government is the largest consumer of energy in the country and bills passed through Congress like the one above, recognize that fact and take action to change it. There is a saying that has always resonated throughout the energy management industry that you can’t manage what you don’t measure first. Here, benchmarking a building is the measure needed to better plan and manage that building now and into the future. U.S. Senator Jeane Shaheen (D-NH), a sponsor of the bill, stated that, “Energy efficiency holds enormous potential for America’s energy future and [Congress] has taken an important step toward realizing that future.”

ENERGY STAR is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that helps businesses and individuals save money through superior energy efficiency. They serve as an objective validation for products claiming to be energy efficient and also classify buildings as energy efficient through the online benchmarking program called, Portfolio Manager. The program emphasizes testing, third party validation, and compliance screening to bolster its integrity and ensure that any building, product certified will deliver the savings promised.

March 15 | Energy Solutions Group Captures Clients Over $6 Million In Savings

Facility Efficiency Projects Answer Call For Energy and Cost Reductions

Implementing cost-saving energy conservation programs is a challenge that’s become a high priority for Florida’s building owners. For Hill York, the state’s leading commercial air conditioning company, the growing need for comprehensive services prompted the launch six years ago of their Energy Solutions Group.

With $1.8 million in energy savings earned for clients in 2014 and over $6 million since 2008, Hill York’s all-out commitment to boost efficiency and reduce utility costs is bagging notable benefits. Out of 30 completed energy projects, they’ve realized a remarkable 102% of projected savings. Such success is hardly by chance. Their meticulously-developed system is driven by technical expertise and client collaboration and anchored by a third party validated process endorsed by agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

“Improving energy efficiency is a highly technical, multi-faceted enterprise,” said Rob Pulsifer, Hill York’s vice president of energy solutions. “We have a team of Certified Energy Managers, LEED Accredited Professionals, Certified Demand Side Management Professionals, and Energy Engineering Specialists that partner with clients to determine the best course of action on a case by case basis.”

Employing a co-authored approach that addresses specific issues and objectives, Hill York’s energy programs are strategically designed to be self-funding through sustained efficiency gains and cost savings. Specialized offerings include energy management systems, chiller plant optimization, and energy service agreements, with the programs typically producing energy reductions ranging from 20 to 40 percent and some results as high as 60 percent. Among the client success stories:

  • Hill York designed and built a Central Energy Plant for Nova Southeastern University that is recognized as one of the largest energy storage systems in the United States. It’s on track to save NSU over $17.3 million over the life of the system.
  • ICORR Properties International’s partnership with Hill York earned the EPA’s ENERGY STAR® certification for superior efficiency at One Sarasota Tower. The office building’s overall energy consumption dropped by an annual average of 34%.
  • Hill York spearheaded six energy conservation measures at the City of Port St. Lucie’s main municipal complex. The program is projected to save the city in excess of $154,000 a year.
  • A major infrastructure improvement project at Leesburg Regional Medical Center was conducted by Hill York to increase energy efficiency and facility comfort. In the two years since its completion, it has reduced operating expenses by over $175,000 a year.

“We’ve been crafting our business model and perfecting our energy services for six years now,” observed Pulsifer, who noted that Hill York’s energy-related projects have swelled from one in 2008 to 35 in 2014. “As we plan and carry out the most results-minded programs in the industry, seeing many of our clients achieve record efficiency and savings is an exciting signal for us to keep forging forward.”

More energy-conscious building owners will no doubt follow Hill York’s lead as they create sustainable futures for facilities, communities and the environment.

A full service commercial air conditioning company, Hill York provides system maintenance, service, repairs, energy solutions, and installation for a wide range of heating, cooling and ventilations systems. Founded in 1936, the company serves the state of Florida.

Download: March 15 | Hill York Helps Energy Grant Hopefuls Win Funding, Retrofit Facilities | Press Release PDF