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How to meet energy efficiency requirements for your building

With energy efficiency requirements escalating along the Front Range, building owners and managers are wisely turning their attention to how well their buildings are performing in terms of meeting important sustainability and energy-conserving goals.

Energize Denver, which sets Denver’s future initiatives, requires that buildings disclose their energy data, which is the first step in the progression to energy efficiency.

At the next level, in Boulder, the city’s Building Performance Ordinance (BPO) has set a June 1, 2021 deadline for buildings that are 10,000 square feet and larger to meet specific energy efficiency requirements regarding energy assessments, lighting upgrades, and retro-commissioning, or face penalties and fines.

As a building owner or property manager, it has become imperative to make and begin implementing a plan that will adhere to these goals and requirements, especially as they escalate over time.

Fortunately, a great deal of support and guidance, as well as incentives to get this important work done, is being provided. With a looming deadline, the City of Boulder is providing deadline extensions to service providers and also has detailed information regarding requirements and goals on the city website.

In addition, C-PACE funding is available, and Xcel Energy provides several comprehensive energy programs, including the recommissioning program. The quickest way to seek a qualified provider is to look at the City of Boulder’s pre-approved list.

Ambient Energy is a City of Boulder certified retro-commissioning and energy assessment service provider. The company is also an Xcel Energy recommissioning program partner, which has added benefits of paying for up to 75% of the cost of the study.

But the program is set to expire and change requirements and incentive levels in Q1 of 2021 though! Still, the onus is on building owners and their management teams to get the important work done.

Here are some of the steps that should already be underway or established soon:

Make a Plan

First and foremost, find the experts in energy efficiency who provide an assessment of your building’s energy efficiency (or lack thereof) and make recommendations on how to cost-effectively and rapidly make improvements that will help to achieve the established requirements. A professional team will examine every aspect of your property, including things such as lighting, HVAC systems, roof systems, energy loads, architectural design and more, and provide tangible ways to make improvements, following a set schedule and working with contractors who can do the work. By fully understanding what your options and requirements are now and in the months and years to come will help tremendously in following a roadmap to success.

Start with the Easier Items

You can begin to take some big steps forward by focusing on the more cost-effective aspects of your building and making them more energy efficient. For example, a building’s lighting is a relatively easy “fix” and can be upgraded with LED lights which will improve the building’s overall light quality and also set the building up for 20-plus years of operating efficiency. In addition to helping a building meet energy efficiency requirements, the improved lighting will refresh the building’s interiors and provide a more enjoyable space to tenants.

Think Ahead

While there is plenty to do right now, it’s also imperative to think ahead. For example, health and wellness measures will become increasingly important to attract tenants, especially as an outcome of the pandemic and WELL or Fitwel certification will become as important as LEED certification. As the trend away from fossil fuels continues, begin to examine the ways a building’s systems can be transitioned to beneficial electricity, such as with heat pumps, and how to maximize renewable energy sources now and in the future.

The attention to our climate has been increasing gradually over time, and more recent developments along the Front Range and throughout the nation and the world have heightened the sense of urgency. This includes every aspect of our society, and building owners and managers are at the forefront of bringing important and needed change.

Linda Morrison Linda Morrison is the Building Performance Team Leader for Ambient Energy, a third-party consulting firm specializing in commissioning, energy analysis, and sustainable design, providing services to a variety of industries include commercial real estate. She can be reached at [email protected].

Support for ‘greening your business’ available across Colorado

Sosrecertified Fuel
John Connor, a technician at West Star Aviation in Grand Junction, pulls a sample of recertified jet aircraft fuel. Used aircraft fuel previously sent out as waste now is repurposed and recertified for aviation use or fuel blending as part of the company’s greener business operations.

Servicing private jets doesn’t spring to mind as a shining example of sustainably minded operations, but the maintenance teams at West Star Aviation, headquartered in Grand Junction, have implemented process changes for years to green their business.

“It’s a very dirty industry that involves a lot of chemicals at a service center for private jets,” says Kraig Meyer, West Star Aviation director of environmental health and safety. “It does take an effort to manage sustainably. Absolutely, it’s worthwhile.”

Meyer, a Marine Corps veteran, said West Star has systematically implemented improvements that are better for the environment and safety of employees. The company has simplified, combined or eliminated processes to reduce their hazardous chemicals from 41 to 17 waste streams, Meyer says. Used aircraft fuel previously sent out as waste now is repurposed and re-certified for aviation use or fuel blending. Some seven tons of all-rubber aviation tires are now redirected annually from the company’s Grand Junction location for recycling to become ground chips for playgrounds, and thousands of gallons of lacquer thinner is recycled in-house for reuse as aircraft component cleaning solvent.

For companies across the state, the Colorado Green Business Program, operated through the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, provides an umbrella resource for sustainability coaching, technical assistance and grants. This coalition of sustainable assistance operates jointly with the CDPHE Environmental Leadership Program. ELP provides benefits and incentives to members that voluntarily go beyond compliance with state and federal regulations and are committed to continual environmental improvement.

Nonprofits, municipalities and a few utilities operate more than a dozen localized green business programs across Colorado, ranging from Resource Wise in Summit County, to Certifiably Green in Denver, to Partners for a Clean Environment in Boulder County.

“Now more than ever, customers would like to support local, sustainable businesses including local employees and locally produced products to better their communities,” says Matt Hannon, Boulder County business sustainability adviser.

In summer 2019, the state launched a free online platform called Green Business Tracker that can be utilized by local programs. Derek Boer, Colorado Green Business Program coordinator, says interest in starting new local programs has grown in the past year. Individual business owners can get started by completing a 30-question Green Business Assessment on the website.

Business sustainability advisers provide evaluation services and follow-up assistance at no cost to businesses moving toward efficiency measures ranging from waste reduction to renewable energy installations to reducing hazardous materials.