“THIS IS NOT JUST A RETAIL CENTER IT’S A LIVING AND BREATHING FACILITY AND IT HAS A LOT TO OFFER TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD.”
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.
The Landmark Center, at 401 Park Drive in the Fenway, was built in 1928 for Sears & Robuck as the New England distribution center. The property is now over 1 million square feet. The building was renovated in 1999 by the Abbey Group to function as an office and retail facility. Samuels and Associates purchased the property in 2011 and has recently started a renovation project that will bring Time Out Market, a new lobby and a 1 acre public park full of amenities. Some of our major tenants include the Boston Children’s Hospital, Toast, Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health and Regal Cinema. It’s a pretty amazing facility and it’s only getting better. This is not just a retail center it’s a living and breathing facility and it has a lot to offer to the neighborhood.
What methods have you used to reduce your energy and water consumption by 15% or more?
We have completed projects including a new energy management system, variable frequency drives (VFD’s), low flow restroom fixtures and expansive lighting retrofits. We strive to complete projects that help us both from a consumption standpoint and from a cost standpoint. We are in the process of completing a new energy management system (EMS) which has been a three year project. We are working with Schneider Electric to update to a cloud based EMS system that allows us to update from anywhere and gives us full connectivity from our phones or tablets. The building was renovated in 1999 so much of the lighting technology is outdated. We have spent a lot of time looking into the best fixtures for the space and how to best integrate controls for the lighting as well as making improvements with LED fixtures. We have been working with Eversource and their rebate program which has been a huge help with completing these projects. We have also replaced many of the restroom fixtures to the low-flow alternatives. When maintaining large buildings it is very important to keep an eye on the existing equipment. For instance, you have to make sure you do not have leaks or that you are not overfilling the cooling towers or flushing cooling towers too often. Frequently, the maintenance perspective is overlooked in terms of efficiency. It is very important to make sure current systems are working properly. If your equipment is out of alignment, it will waste energy. Outside of this, behavioral changes have been very important to reducing our utility consumption. We look at the operating schedules for our retail and office tenants. We can then make changes that will allow us to utilize the morning warm up hours and the hours where the offices are technically open but there are few people present. In these periods you can lessen the cooling to save some energy. We also try to adjust set points based on weather and different patterns that we see in the building. For instance, this building seems to have less people in it on Friday so we can adjust our set points and allow things to get slightly warmer without affecting the tenant comfort and satisfaction.
Have you experienced any unexpected benefits through your BERDO compliance?
It’s helpful to see the numbers totalized and to look at them year over year. It shines a light on the areas you could focus on more and works as motivation to continue to drive efficiency.
Do you plan on making more energy efficiency modifications to your property in the future?
There is always more to do! We will continue to improve lighting and remove all mercury containing lamps from the building. We are also replacing the building outside air roof top units and improving that system with demand control ventilation. In 2019 we will start the roof replacement; this will provide a higher R value and promote reflectance with the new lighter roof membrane. Hopefully someday we can work in a solar farm. We have over 100k sf of roof and solar would be a great way to offset some of our consumption. We would also love to do a water reclamation project to collect storm and rain water to use it on the facility.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your utility reduction journey?
Construction cost! Every year these projects get more expensive and the savings are beginning to shrink because of it.
Do you have an interesting story about your utility reduction process that the metrics do not express?
I just think people focus too much on what they can add to a building to drive efficiency and not looking at changes that can be made to the buildings operations. Sometimes simple changes to how a building operates can have the greatest effect on the overall performance. It’s easy for people in our industry to want to make many replacements and to look for capital projects but there is a lot of potential in making behavioral changes. If property managers spend more time really looking at their building and learning how it breaths and how its heart beats they could make many cost effective changes. A big mistake is that people can look at these huge systems and get overwhelmed by them but if you look on the micro-level and assess each component, you can improve them individually. This is a perspective I have maintained throughout my career and it is something that I preach to the men and women that work for me now.