With reduced occupancy, leaders in the commercial real estate sector make efficiency upgrades
With vacant office spaces as many tenants are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the commercial real estate sector is presented with unique challenges and an opportunity to conduct preventative maintenance and other energy efficiency projects normally too disruptive to complete during normal occupancy. Two Better Buildings Challenge Partners from the CRE sector, Kilroy Realty and LBA Realty, are using this time to complete such measures and advance energy efficiency.
Kilroy Realty, a West-coast based real estate investment trust (REIT), took advantage of this time to complete several energy efficiency projects.
- LED lighting retrofits: With four projects completed during the pandemic, Kilroy’s estimated energy savings is already over 1,000 MW due to these retrofits. With nearly a dozen more projects on the docket, Kilroy’s potential energy savings continues to grow. For example, the completed interior and exterior LED lighting projects focus on parking lot lights and common area fixtures in their office portfolio. Additionally, Kilroy installed window film in select office properties to reduce operating expenses.
- HVAC preventative maintenance: In a COVID-19 bulletin on its website, Kilroy explains how its operation and maintenance of the HVAC system exceeds the industry standard of care. Prior to re-occupancy, air filters will be changed and further preventive maintenance will be implemented in consultation with the staff environmental hygienist.
Kilroy found that overall energy consumption dropped by 25-35% on average due to proper building maintenance and energy efficiency optimization during low occupancy. Kilroy saw great results by adjusting building system schedules and other settings to reflect low/no occupancy, showing great results amongst their peers.
LBA Realty, a western U.S.-based real estate investment firm, developed an internal re-entry plan that exemplifies the crossover between well-being, health, and energy efficiency. The plan was developed to ensure the well-being of their customers, employees, and community when reopening properties post COVID-19. The plan includes, among other topics, cleaning and sanitizing guidelines, access controls and security, signage, facility-specific action items, environmental controls, and indoor air quality.
LBA is following ASHRAE’s Standard IAQ guidelines, which recommends replacing air filters and cleaning and disinfecting HVAC units, among other suggestions. Though not explicitly stated, preventative maintenance measures like these and others result in a cleaner, more energy efficient HVAC system. Action items taken during and post COVID-19 are easy ones for the industry to replicate and making the business case has never been easier with well-being and energy effciency at top-of-mind for many decision-makers.