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Most of the property managers we work with have already done a lot over the years to reduce operating expenses in their buildings. Often, there were moments on that journey where they received recognition for those efforts. Perhaps they even got their buildings ENERGY STAR certified. However, over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to further reduce energy costs in buildings that are already operating efficiently.

What do you do after all the low-hanging fruit has been picked? If all that remains are significant capital projects that ownership/leadership are aware of, what’s the next step?

If you are self-motivated to manage energy expenses you will be looking for ways to effectively communicate that you are already doing the best you can with what you’ve got. The next step for most property and facility managers is to search for innovative and effective ways to communicate that your building is operating in an efficient manner.

Here’s four suggestions on how to more effectively communicate how you are managing utility expenses in your buildings:

1st – Make it visual

All of the owners and executives we have worked with have an understanding of how to interpret charts and graphs. They’ve become accustom to distilling trends and rendering insights when consuming visual executive summary information. Can they see that the lines are going in the right direction? Can you use infographics and/or icons like a thumbs-up or a needle within a meter to indicate that the utility consumption at your building or across the portfolio are doing well?

2nd – Reference positive trends in weather-normalized reductions in use

Often it’s helpful to perform weather normalization on your building’s recent utility consumption to remove the effects of Mother Nature’s impacts on your energy expenses. From an accounting standpoint, the property may have seen a 5% increase in actual utility cost per square foot. However, after weather normalization and removing the impact of the increase in commodity prices for energy, we may be able to show that the increase would have been closer to 13% and that there was actually an 8% savings because you were actively working to control your energy expenses.

3rd – Use the ENERGY STAR rating system to underscore relative efficiency of a building

We have become supporters of using the EPA’s online Portfolio Manager for establishing ENERGY STAR scores for commercial properties. This rating system is especially helpful when a building enjoys a relatively high score. That communicates a sense of effective utility cost control and accurately conveys the reality that here’s not a lot of additional utility expenses that can be saved.

4th – Expand the conversation to include other utilities including water and waste

Finally, consider expanding the conversation to overall utility expense management which includes water and waste. Often there are opportunities to make no- and low-cost impacts on these operational expense line items that will allow you to highlight the impacts you are making above and beyond traditional energy conservation. All of the commercial buildings we have worked with we were able to show significant improvements in waste diversion rates (i.e. percentage of single-sort recycled materials relative to the total amount of waste taken from the building).

I hope you found this article insightful as our team has a lot of experience working with high-performing buildings that are constantly challenged with how to effectively communicate that energy expenses are under control.

Embrace your power to waste less.