Three ideas property managers can use to drive sustainability in their buildings – Without spending a fortune!

Discover new ideas to drive sustainability in your building without spending a fortune.

Property managers have more knowledge than they might be aware of to greatly reduce building operating costs without tapping into capital reserves.

Try these steps to reduce energy consumption in your building and better control operating costs

By: Zach Denning


Large commercial real estate companies typically have sustainability and engineering divisions tasked with finding building inefficiencies throughout their commercial portfolios. When we think building sustainability, our minds drift to sophisticated solutions involving key stakeholders and large capital budgets. Yet, when it comes to HVAC, it may be easier than you think to drive down energy and maintenance costs with little capital.

There’s one person that knows the building and it’s issues better than anyone – The property manager. 6/10 tenant issues reported to property managers are HVAC related – 60% of all energy in a commercial building goes to the HVAC… Spotting a trend?

Property managers have more power than they think to solve key tenant issues and reduce operating costs like maintenance and energy. All it takes is applying some new ideas on how to manage HVAC:


1. Track maintenance costs down to the equipment level to maximize equipment life and decrease operating costs

Maintenance is usually tracked as an annual lump sum with the Preventative Maintenance (PM) contract broken out. Like most analytics, lump sum only tells us that you’re spending more or           less – Not where, how or why you’re spending your money.

If you track maintenance costs at the equipment level (valve replacements, filter replacements, etc.), the resulting annualized figure can be used to reveal operating degradation. Dividing annual maintenance costs by total replacement value gives you an indication of equipment Return on Investment (ROI) from a maintenance perspective. A resulting ROI of 0.15 or lower indicates your equipment is working efficiently while 0.3-0.4 tells you it’s time to replace.

Driving equipment replacements from maintenance degradation extends life 10-15%, reduces emergency replacement costs 20-30% and often leads to lower energy costs from increased efficiency.


2. Utilize emerging building technologies to forecast and repair failures before they impact tenants and bills

There are a few new building technology services capable of tapping into your buildings HVAC and finding potential failures before they occur – Some even go as far to quantify the issue real-time for easy repair prioritization.

Forecasted maintenance services are typically subscription based, granting managers the flexibility to evaluate cost savings without large capital expenditures. Systems should evaluate issues from a financial perspective allowing managers to acclimate new, actionable data into their workflows without needing a strong technical background.

Finding and repairing issues before the equipment fails not only alleviates the potential risk of failure and tenant impact, it reduces maintenance costs 25-35% and increases equipment efficiency 15-20%.


3. Take control of HVAC operation with periodic building automation tune-ups to increase efficiency

50-60% of HVAC related tenant calls in commercial buildings are building automation related. Preventative Maintenance (PM) contracts often fail to identify and remedy automation inefficiencies before they impact your tenants and your energy bills.

Typical issues like hot/cold calls and “doors blowing open” often refer to the controllability of the Building Management System (BMS). Having a controls contractor or consultant audit your system and tune up programming periodically throughout the year can often solve the major issues your tenants have discovered.

Fixing simplistic automation issues often result in 10-15% savings, payback in less than 8-months and extended equipment life.


The above recommendations have a proven track record of great payback (<8-months average) and can be easily implemented by property managers – Without needing to brush up on technical skills.

Try them out today and feel free to leave comments on how well they’ve worked for your organization!



My name is Zach Denning and I’m the CEO and owner of EnerDapt, Inc. We’re an HVAC engineering firm that utilizes cloud-based technology to bridge the technical and financial gaps commonly found in HVAC management. Our OCMS EnerVise platform keeps customers knowledgeable about their building including HVAC life-cycle costs, forecasted maintenance & upgrades, and equipment replacements.   You can reach me at or visit our website at

OCMS; Building Operating Cost Management

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