Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)


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Deep Savings: Using Case Studies in Our Search for Success

Find Sources and learn from Case Study results already gathered on Best practices and Measured Performance.

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  • At RMI we are undertaking a major initiative called Reinventing Fire. The premise is that the United States’ capital, technology, and entrepreneurship equip it for success in the global clean energy race. Yet it’s been held back by lack of coherent vision, pervasive political gridlock, and shorting the scope for dynamic business leadership.  We ‘ve completed an independent synthesis and are offering a new vision that can revitalize business models and end-run Washington gridlock. Slated for release this fall, Reinventing Fire, the book, offers market-based, actionable solutions integrating transportation, buildings, industry, and electricity. 
  • As many of us already know buildings consume 40% of the nation’s energy and more than 70% of its electricity, more than any other sector. Aggressively adopting building energy efficiency saves energy and money—we found it to be worth $1.9 trillion in today’s dollars—helping revitalize the real-estate sector and drive job creation.  Commercial buildings’ efficiency is a key element of RMI’s long-term fossil fuel reduction plan. RMI’s RetroFit goal is to encourage the retrofit of the U.S. commercial building stock to use at least 50 percent less energy by 2050, via the wide adoption of “deep” energy retrofits that save far more energy, with good economics and creating more value than today’s normal practice. At scale, an integrative design approach could raise the savings to over two-thirds of buildings’ 2050 energy use. In the next five years, RMI will partner with industry leaders—including owners and managers of large, owner-occupied portfolios, energy service providers, architects, and engineers—to demonstrate the business case and drive demand for deep energy retrofits, and to build the integrative design skills of those professionals that perform them.
  • In this new energy era, we believe there is an enormous opportunity for organizations to: Increase the inherent value of their buildings by making spaces more pleasant and healthy Decrease fossil fuel consumption and all the associated greenhouse gas emissions And improve your business or services Owner-occupiers and tenants can…reduce costs to improve their bottom line and improve corporate reputation Real estate owners/developers can… increase market performance, attract and retain tenants, and increase their net operating income
  • The approach that we take to our work is characterized by the several principles, including these four principles. Throughout the presentation as I’m describing our work, you’ll see these four themes coming up a lot. Systems thinking We attempt to create multiple benefits from single expenditures, to weave an intricate web of enhanced value. 2. End-use/Least-cost approach We find the best and cheapest way to do each desired task—rather than simply expanding supply without regard to the right amount, quality, and scale 3. Market oriented solutions Our solutions achieve high leverage by harnessing competitive forces and the economic self-interest of firms and individuals. At the same time, we seek to correct market failures that needlessly pit human and corporate interests against those of the environment. In this way, obstacles are transformed into business opportunities. 4 Corporate Transformation We discover highly efficient and sustainable practices that offer big competitive advantages, place them in the public domain, and work with one or more corporate "early adopters" to apply the practices with conspicuous success; rival firms are then forced to follow suit or lose market share
  • Let me take a minute to explain one key piece of information that is needed in the retrofit market place. Regardless of stature or motivations, most of our target audience (who are building owners and managers, as well as retrofit practitioners) doesn’t understand the difference between deep retrofits and cream skimming or has even heard of the terms. Cream skimming has long been associated with typical retrofit approaches, so as soon as our target audience begins to ask for or offer deep energy retrofits as opposed to cream skimming, they’ve created more marketplace options and opportunity. Cream-skimming is a one or two-system retrofit approach (typically focused on lighting and mechanical equipment) and it occurs when a retrofit project leaves part (often most) of the available energy savings economically unattainable for a long time—typically decades. In contrast, a deep retrofit is a whole-systems approach in which many more efficiency measures are on the table, even the less cost-effective ones, and they are bundled together to form one integrated design. There are two reasons why a deep retrofit approach is preferable over cream skimming: 1. Deep energy retrofits improve the economics of efficiency. Bundling measures together often enables synergies between measures that reduce their capital cost. In addition, as part of the careful planning and analysis process, measures can be coordinated with end-of life equipment/component replacements and tenant fit-outs to further reduce cost—not to mention inconvenience. 2. The second reason is that the benefits of deep energy retrofits do not end with the cost savings. These retrofits can fundamentally change a building, with the potential to create several different forms of value. Depending on who the owners are and what their organizational or business strategy is, they may intend this building value to increase net operating income or meet other strategic objectives.
  • Here is a map of where we’re headed. As I mentioned, the long term outcomes of this work is to propel the wide adoption of deep energy efficiency retrofits across us comm bldg stock. To do this, we identified 3 enabling conditions to help make this work: Financing. The mechanisms need to be in place in order to get cost-effective capital. For those who already have capital, the case for making the investment needs to be well understood. Owners must demand deep retrofits; there needs to be a spark that gets them excited about the proposition Service providers or retrofit practitioners must be able to carry out integrative design From those 3 key enabling conditions, we completed research into different approaches we could take and the different parties that are working parallel to us in the industry. We determined three approaches are both needed and RMI is well-equipped to provide.
  • In order to fine tune our approaches, in Sept. 2010, we worked with Pike Research to conduct one-on-one interviews and a survey of over 400 real estate professionals to refine our understanding of the barriers to deep energy retrofits Three largest barriers: Even if people are interested in deep energy savings, they don’t really understand or know the process of a deep energy retrofit Similar to the process barrier, a lot of engineers/practitioners simply do not have the right training or tools necessary to perform deep energy retrofits. People are not choosing to finance or invest in retrofits due to a perceived lack of value or urgency. They believe they can invest elsewhere for greater value. In addition, many financiers do not necessarily trust the predicted energy savings and they want to see the verified savings from other projects. We did get a encouraging result from the study: of those who were not interested in deep energy savings, half stated more information could make them interested
  • A few months ago we released a website for enabling deep retrofits, called the RetroFit Depot. Our vision is for RetroFIT Depot to become a premier online resource for explaining the principles of deep retrofits, detailing the deep retrofit process, and providing useful tools. Our target audience are building owners, occupiers and retrofit practitioners. We hope to influence their decisions and improve their abilities. The website has four main sections: Deep retrofits, How to RetroFit, True Stories, and Tools & Resources. Let me give you a brief overview of what’s in these sections, I’ll go into detail on a couple of case studies we have posted, and I’ll indicate what’s on the horizon of development for this website.
  • Here’s a screen shot of the Deep Retrofits page. This section lays out our definition of deep retrofits, why you would want to do a deep retrofit, what the benefits beyond energy cost savings are, and Dr RetroFit, which is where we encourage people to ask questions and begin a dialogue. If you are really good at picking out disguises and you were observant of our photos on the webinar title page, you may recognize one of thepresenters as Dr. Retrofit. Throughout these pages we have little side bars that show recent retrofit related articles, so you can stay up to date on what’s happening in the world with retrofits. We have RSS feeds as well that will keep you informed.
  • The second section of the site lays out the steps of the deep retrofit process. It starts with the project launch, enters a design phase, implementing the efficiency improvements, and ends with a verify&share phase. Visitors to the site can click on these steps to dig further into the details. This section of the website also provides a list of “right timing” indicators, which tell you when it’ s the right time or situation to consider a deep energy retrofit.
  • The third section of the website is our True Stories section. Currently we have three True Stories. These each tell the story of a deep retrofit, paying careful attention to the owner decision making, the predicted economics of the project, the technical details of the measures, and lessons learned. The only case study where some verified energy savings are currently being tracked is the Empire State Building. The other two are still in design.
  • The final section is Tools & Resources. Here we provide for service providers, or retrofit practitioners, and owners and managers. At this point our service providers section has been more popular. In it we have tools and guides for energy modeling, which is a critical deep energy retrofit activity.
  • Now I’d like to highlight a couple of the case studies that are currently on the RetroFit Depot. The first is the Byron Rogers Federal Building in Denver, Colo. This half a million sf (18 stories) building is owned by the General Services Administration and is occupied by the GSA as well as several tenants such as the US Attorneys and Dept of Homeland Security. The building was slated for some time for a full internal deconstruction, preserving the 1960s era historical characteristics. The building finally got its chance for renovation with ARRA funding. Now, this building was so obviously ripe for a deep energy retrofit that the project would have had to fall in someone’s lap to be any more obvious. But really the main reason that GSA decided to pursue a deep energy retrofit as part of this renovation project was the federal energy mandates. To meet these aggressive mandates, GSA knew it had to get this building on the path to a very low or net zero energy facility, and it had to do so cost-effectively. So the project team was charged with answering the question: How can we give taxpayers the most ARRA bang for their buck?
  • GSA wanted to make Byron Rogers a building of the future in terms of sustainability, guiding the way for other government buildings. The specific sustainability goals included: 1. LEED certification: Silver is the requirement, and Platinum is the target. And it’s important to note here that since the project falls under LEED NC and not EB, all the tenants must comply with the project goals, which has made the project more challenging, but just means that the team has needed to go to greater lengths to engage tenants as well as the owner. This should really happen on any deep energy retrofit project. 2. The water goal is also more aggressive than what is recommended: 40% savings 3. The team is attempting to meet 100% of the hot water demand with a solar thermal panel system. 4. And finally, the targeted energy savings is very aggressive. This chart the mandated percent energy savings from a 2003 baseline. For projects constructed in 2010, 55% reduction is required. For 2015, a 65% reduction, and so on, until 2030 when net zero is the target. In 2003, Byron Rogers used about 90 kBtus per square feet. After changes to the number of computer servers that will be located inside the building, the team has had to adjust its predicted energy savings number. Currently, since the project will be constructed in 2013, the energy target is about where it should be in order for GSA to reach its energy goals. More details of this case study can be found on the retrofit depot, and that’s where we will also be updating the case study to document the progress of the project.
  • The other case study I’d like to highlight for you today is on a retail franchise. We are waiting to divulge the identity of this chain until the energy savings have been verified, but please trust us that the project is indeed real—even though the results may seem too good to be true. Here’s a synopsis of the project: We completed deep retrofits of 3 buildings from a portfolio of 3000. These retrofits will save 50–70% or the energy cost for about a 13% IRR We learned that about 2/3 of the savings could be captured with just a handful of the efficiency measures This allowed us to create a plan to conduct retrofits across the portfolio, saving 30–50% of the energy for 20% or more IRR
  • The essence of this project, which is explained in greater detail on the RetroFit Depot case study, is what we’ve been calling a “pilot to portfolio” process. A pilot to portfolio process is intended to capture the benefits of integrative design for each building in a portfolio, without having to conduct a deep energy retrofit of each one. Steps include: Idenitfy a archetypical building Conduct deep energy retrofit Document lessons learned Apply lessons to the other buildings
  • You have to sort your buildings in order to identify an archetype. Sorting factors could be space use, gross sf, mechanical system type, climate and energy end-use.
  • The second step is to conduct deep energy retrofits of the archetypical buildings. The steps to a deep energy retrofit as we’ve laid them out on the Retrofit Depot are to: Launch the project (select a team, set goals), Develop Project (gather information about the building, engage stakeholders, and identify and select efficiency opportunities), Implement Project (making sure that contractors understand design intent, the right contracts and incentives are in place, etc), and Verify Success (with on-going metering and commissioning).
  • During and after the deep retrofits you can begin documenting lessons learned. You’ll want to be able to answer key questions in these areas: Number 1. SYSTEM INTERACTIONS: What measures can reduce loads and make equipment smaller, simpler, and cheaper? 2. SYSTEM PERFORMANCE: Did you find a building system or component that is underperforming? What is the root cause? 3. PEOPLE: Which people on the team were particularly creative or effective at integrative design? 4. ECONOMICS: What design concepts or technologies were particularly profitable?
  • Finally, you need to be able to take those lessons and use them to inform your strategic portfolio plan. A major consideration is timing with end-of-life replacements or other capital improvements, as well as tenant fit-outs and occupancy changes. And that’s the basic process that went into our Retail Franchise retrofit project. Again, more details can be found on the RetroFit Depot.
  • Over the 6 to 12 months, we plan to work on the following 4 items. Case studies. We plan to add 2–3 over the next 6 months. These case studies will be of owner-occupied portfolios, they will highlight the owner’s decision making and will provide a good amount of risk analysis. We will also be writing some case studies of energy modeling. And finally, we will be adding and organizing more links to external organizations such as NBI and the DOE that are also writing good case studies. We will be improving and adding content to our “How to Retrofit” section. To help guide our work here we encourage you to submit comments on the Depot website. In the Tools & Resources section, we will be adding documents such as a generic Owner’s Project Requirements, and video tutorials of how to use our tools. We also encourage you to submit comments that suggest tools that we might develop. Finally, we intend to add content that describes how deep retrofits can be used in buildings portfolios.
  • Thanks for your time. If you like, feel free to contact me at my email address or telephone number on the screen. And don’t forget to visit to learn how you can get involved in the new energy era.
  • Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)

    1. 1. Deep Energy Savings Webinar:Using Case Studies in Your Search for Success Victor Olgyay Mike Bendewald June 30th, 2011
    2. 2. “Mapping and drivingthe business-led transitionfrom oil and coal toefficiency and renewables”
    3. 3. Bold business solutions for the newenergy era Fossil-fuel reduction Buildings consume more energy than any other sector Revitalize the real estate sector Drive job creation “RetroFit” for 50% savingsRMI’s RetroFit Initiative’s goal is to cost-effectively reduce by 50% by 2050, with the potential to reduce by over two-thirds Partnering for integrative designRMI will partner with industry leaders to demonstrate the business case and build integrative design skills
    4. 4. Imagine your organization…ValuableBuildings Fewer Emissions BetterCredit: Alise O’brien Business
    5. 5. RetroFit Initiative theory of change Wide adoption of deep energy efficiencyLONG TERM retrofits across the U.S. commercial OUTCOME building stock ENABLING Owner Service FinancingCONDITIONS demand providers RMI Strategic Tools and EducationAPPROACHES Collaborations Resources and Training
    6. 6. RMI study: What are the barriers to deep energy retrofits? Process Training/ Tools FinancingStudy is available for free download
    7. 7. The RetroFit Depot
    8. 8. Byron Rogers Federal Building case study Denver, Colo. The Team: Mortenson Construction (Design Build Contractor) BWG Architects (Architect) HOK Architects (Interior Design and LEED) The RMH Group (MEP Engineer) Martin/Martin Inc. (Structural Engineer) Rocky Mountain Institute (High Perf. Green Bldg) How can we give taxpayers the most ARRA bang for their buck?Images courtesy of BWG Architects
    9. 9. Byron Rogers sustainability goals LEED NC (Not EB!) Potable Water Savings 20% 40% Requirement Target Requirement Target Solar Thermal Energy Savings Requirement: 30% of hot water kBtu/ft2-yr demand met Target: 100% of hot water demand met
    10. 10. Retail Franchise case study Deep Retrofit On 3 buildings from portfolio of 3000 Savings Of 50–70% energy cost With 13% IRR Learned 2/3 of savings came from 5 measures Across portfolio 30–50% savings for 20+% IRR
    11. 11. A “pilot to portfolio” approach
    12. 12. What’s next for the RetroFit Depot Case StudiesAdding 2–3 case studies over the next six months, with focus on owner- occupied portfolios, decision making, and risk analysis; case studies of energy modeling; organizing and adding more links to external organizations with case studies How to Retrofit Continually improving and adding content—need your feedback and suggestions via “comment” boxes Tools and ResourcesOwner’s Project Requirements, Video Tutorials—let us know what you need Portfolio Approaches How to achieve deep energy savings across a buildings portfolio
    13. 13. Thank You Victor Olgyay Mike