The Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO) requires that all larger buildings in Boston make concerted efforts to improve their energy and climate performance. The Environment Department would like to highlight leading example buildings that have excelled in reducing their utility consumption. This series hopes to provide innovative strategies to building owners and managers throughout Boston, while defining Boston as a leader in building energy efficiency.
- Please introduce yourself and your property. My name is Aaron Lenburg. I’m the onsite Property Manager for Twenty-One Beacon Condominium located on Beacon Hill right next door to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts State House. I work for the Lundgren Management Group, Inc. and I’ve managed the building since 2009. The building used to be the historic Hotel Bellevue when it was first constructed in the 1890’s. Today it houses 158 residential units and 8 commercial units (including three restaurants, a convenience store, law office, and a staffing agency). The building originally was heated by Edison Steam but is now heated by two steam boilers in the basement. The building uses approximately 65,000 to 85,000 cubic feet of water per month!
- What methods have you used to reduce your energy and water consumption by 15% or more? Over the past couple of years, we’ve had a lot of work done on our boilers and the overall heating system. In 2009, the association converted from oil burners to dual-fuel burners so we can take advantage of whichever fuel is less expensive at the time. We’ve replaced steam traps, insulated steam pipes, and installed advanced boiler controls that are connected to thermostats located throughout the building. The controls are web based and can be monitored and adjusted remotely. We are continually making adjustments. On a sunny day in the middle of winter we can lower the heat a couple of degrees while maintaining the comfort of the residents. On mild days, we can temporarily turn off the heat altogether. These practices have reduced heating fuel consumption considerably. To give you an idea of cost savings…in 2009, the association spent $222,167 in fuel and last year they spent $123,873 (almost a 45% drop!!). Our building is unique in that the electricity in the residential units is part of the common utilities. When the building was originally a hotel, the electricity was shared among multiple units and the units were never separately metered. Because of this, we actively monitor the building’s electrical usage and report usage with the Unit Owners. We’ve replaced lightbulbs in the hallways and other common areas (first with Compact Fluorescents and more recently with LED bulbs). We’ve partnered with RISE Engineering multiple times as part of the MassSave program. They’ve replaced interior and exterior light fixtures, installed motion sensors on common area lighting (laundry rooms, storage rooms, etc.) and provided LED light bulbs to the residents.We also continually monitor water consumption. If there is an increase in water use, we will conduct a building-wide search for leaks. One faulty toilet flapper can increase the association’s water bill by hundreds of dollars per month.
- Have you experienced any unexpected benefits through your BERDO compliance? While we’ve always been “energy conscious”, participating in BERDO highlights that the City is energy conscious as well. Knowing that other buildings are also participating in this program helps spread awareness and promotes energy conservation.
- Do you plan on making more energy efficiency modifications to your property in the future? If so, please expand on this. We are always looking for opportunities to conserve energy. Just this past year, we replaced the old DC electric elevator motors with new energy efficient motors that run off of regular AC current. Energy conservation will continue to be one of the primary considering factors for all future capital projects as well.
- What has been the most challenging aspect of your utility reduction journey? Twenty-One Beacon Condominium is unique in that the building receives a single electric bill for all 158 residential units every month. Residents are unaware of their individual energy usage, nor do they directly see the cost benefits when they take measures to conserve energy in their homes. This makes it challenging to encourage residents to conserve energy whenever possible.
- Do you have an interesting story about your utility reduction process that the metrics do not express? If so, please expand on this. Just like the City of Boston, we have a diverse population of residents in the building that have moved here from all over the world. I enjoy learning about other cultures and how they conserve electricity elsewhere in the world.