Supporting Obama’s Building Efficiency Push through Occupant Behavior Initiative

WASHINGTON, DC. This morning, President Obama announced a $4 billion push for greater building efficiency through Energy Savings Performance Contracts, with former President Bill Clinton enlisted as partner. But what saves more energy than switching incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent ones? Turning the lights off when they’re not in use. Recognizing the importance of building occupant education and buy-in to realizing resource efficiencies, Washington, DC-based real estate firm, Greenebaum & Rose Associates recently implemented an innovative occupant awareness campaign as part of their LEED Gold Certification process at 888 First Street, NE – the Washington DC headquarters for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). 

As part of their LEED Certification process for 888 First Street, NE, Greenebaum and Rose brought together a team of small businesses to conduct a comprehensive energy audit, provide real-time energy monitoring capability and offer building occupant training to the tenants.  Jacksonville, FL-based SkyeTec, Inc, conducted the energy audit where energy management professionals used diagnostic equipment and historical utility data to pinpoint resource usage patterns and savings opportunities. NJ-based Noveda Technologies installed an energy monitoring system to help stakeholders track their resource savings throughout the building in real time.  Crucially, national green education provider CleanEdison was then brought in to conduct the education portion of the program so that building occupants could gain a thorough understanding of green building and retrofitting techniques and become champions of these initiatives both within their building and beyond as they begin to see the marked savings their efforts produce.

By implementing an awareness program across building owners, operators, managers, tenants and occupants about the building changes and the collective effort to which they are all instrumental, 888 First Street occupants took the first steps toward helping maximize the resource conservation efforts building owners have put in place. 

 The courses, given by CleanEdison, were well and enthusiastically attended, with over 60 FERC staff members the facilities and operations staff, representatives from Greener FERC, along with many others. 

“We are very happy with the way the information was presented and the way it was received by FERC staff,” stated Meera S. Friemel, Senior Vice President for Greenebaum & Rose.   Following the occupant training, Greenebaum & Rose alongside UCP Management, the property management company for 888 First Street, NE will be distilling all of this information into a uniform set of procedures for building occupants so that everyone in the building is on the same page with regard to lighting, recycling and overall resource conservation best practices.  “Following the training this past Tuesday, we’re confident that our tenants, the FERC staff, will play a significant role in helping move this initiative forward and we expect we’ll see even better energy savings and resource conservation outcomes as a result of their increased awareness and willingness to participate in this effort.”   

The two hour workshops informed building occupants and other stakeholders about the various green building efforts taken in their building, how these changes help to improve the building’s overall health and safety as well as how the building occupants’ behavior can contribute to the overall resource conservation efforts throughout the building. The classroom session was followed by a short tour highlighting the building’s  energy efficient and green aspects including alternative commuting programs, increased water efficiency in lavatories, reduced mercury in lighting, and best-in-class air filtration systems that improve the indoor environmental quality.

“Major impacts are achieved not only in energy regulation but through shifting usage behaviors,” said CleanEdison CEO Avi Yashchin, who observed the training at 888 First Street, NE this past week. – “Educating those most impacted by green building – its occupants and operators – is the simplest and most effective way to ensure that the benefits of these elements are fully realized. We are delighted to present this important training course to the FERC staff and honored to be included in this bold initiative taken by Greenbaum & Rose.”

Green design efforts sweeping the building industry often leave out a major element – getting the building occupants on board. Recycling bins become trash receptacles pretty quickly if people don’t know why or how to sort their refuse.  Installing high efficiency toilets is an entirely futile effort if the building occupants are flushing 3 times. Because of the occupant impact, significant energy and cost savings projected from these efforts have been seen to fall short when the building occupants are not a part of the process. 

Source: CleanEdison.com

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