Factors to Consider When Hiring Energy Auditors for Local Law 87

BY: Associated Renewable

Published: April 1, 2013

Why Conduct Commercial & Multifamily Residential Energy Audits

Energy Audits of commercial and multifamily buildings are highly technical studies that require experienced energy auditors to analyze how, when and where energy is being consumed in buildings, resulting in a comprehensive plan to conserve energy without compromising on current performance. In large multi-unit residential dwellings, energy audits that are conducted properly can save up to 40% of energy costs, if not more. The higher the level of the energy audit, the more detailed the energy-saving measures that are identified in the energy audit report. Therefore, it is not enough to just comply with Local Law 87 rules requiring the minimum of a Level 2 energy audit to ensure the highest possible energy savings for facilities.  The investment-grade Level 3 energy audits are the most detailed type of studies that use not only data logging equipment and real site data for whole-building energy modeling but also furnish financial analyses for energy conservation measures (ECMs) identified. For each proposed ECM, a Level 3 audit report will include rigorous quantification of project costs, cost savings generated, payback period, life cycle costs, internal rate of return, energy usage intensity comparisons, greenhouse gas equivalency calculations, grants and incentives identified for cost reduction, and other  facility-wide financial analyses.

Firm-specific Factors for Choosing Energy Auditors

Price:  If it's too good to be true, most likely it is. Beware of energy auditors that offer Level 2 or Level 3 audits at unrealistically low rates, because these firms often subcontract the technical work to third parties with little to no supervision involved. It makes more financial sense to pay a higher price for a comprehensive service that covers not only the compliance aspect of the energy audit but also considers the long-term health of your buildings. In this way, owners don't have to pay more money later to correct deficiencies brought on by sub-standard work done previously. 

Company’s Audit Process:  Although energy audits are fairly standardized procedures according to the ASHRAE guidebook, energy auditors have varied approaches for conducting energy audits in commercial and multifamily buildings. Experienced energy auditors will take the lead on the project while allowing sufficient involvement of facility owners, contractors, key maintenance staff, and influential tenants.  Take a look at Associated Renewable’s energy audit process step by step.

Audit Team’s Proficiency:   An energy audit team should be comprised of experts including certified energy managers (CEMs), certified energy auditors (CEAs), professional engineers (PEs) and other qualified energy professionals. The team should demonstrate prior experience with commercial energy audits for all types of commercial and residential facilities ranging from restaurants to multi-family dwellings. At Associated Renewable, the Energy Solutions team utilizes the experience of certified energy experts with diverse backgrounds in mechanical, electrical, energy, environmental and civil engineering. An in-house grants services team works concurrently to identify and acquire financial incentives for clients’ energy efficiency upgrades, retrofits and improvements.

Proven Track Record:  A qualified energy auditor should be able to provide samples of previously-completed energy audits to vouch for the quality of work executed by technical teams. Furnishing references is also essential to show for a good record of prior work. Ask for a sample report that summarizes the energy saving measures as well as related financial and engineering analyses.

Customized Energy Audit Report:  A good energy auditor will go above and beyond the prescriptive standards to prepare a detailed, customized energy audit report for the client, including low cost to no cost measures to conserve energy, capital-intensive projects matched to applicable grants and incentives, cumulative financial data for a portfolio of buildings, energy savings potential of each project as well as, custom energy efficiency measures (EEMs) identified for the facility. At Associated Renewable, the commercial energy audit will include EEMs prioritized according to project goals and financial resources of the client. It will also include a list of EEMs are recommended for saving energy but not a priority. The deliverable for Local Law 87 compliance is a comprehensive Energy Efficiency Report that details the findings of the energy audit and the measures implemented for energy cost reduction.

Value Added Services:  In addition to providing the core energy auditing services, some energy auditors have the capability of providing a well-rounded offering. Associated Renewable’s energy audit clients are offered multi-year free energy benchmarking and access to a reputable market partner network for acquiring financing for energy projects. Depending on the level of audit and size of the facility, Associated Renewable’s energy audits are complemented with a bundle of value added services.

Client-specific Factors for Choosing Energy Auditors

Facility Characteristics:  Depending on the property’s covered building area (square feet), number of units and the type of facility, an energy auditor can be selected for completing the audit. Once Associated Renewable has been selected by a client, a contract is established to execute a specified scope of auditing work and details the legal rights of the involved parties. The scope of work will define which systems will be evaluated and the associated analysis. A tentative schedule of the project’s timeline is provided along with a list of the personnel assigned to the project.

Financial Resources:  Often property managers and owners have limited financial resources available for capital improvements for their buildings. Although this can be a limiting factor, hiring a good energy auditor can override financial constraints since they are able to acquire financial incentives, rebates and grants for most energy efficiency projects. Associated Renewable funds energy projects for qualifying clients through internal financing and also applies for applicable financial incentives through its in-house Grants Services team.

Short vs. Long-Term Outlook:  Property owners that are looking for quick-fix solutions prefer working with energy auditing companies that have low turnaround times for those projects. On the other hand, those that see building efficiency as a long-term investment choose energy auditors that are able to identify the highest possible energy saving opportunities in a cost-effective manner. Associated Renewable prides itself in the high caliber of its energy professionals and the advantage of being product-neutral, enabling it to combine solutions from the best sources.

Expediency vs. Proficiency:  Clients that need accurate and detailed whole-building energy evaluations will prefer Associated Renewable for their energy auditing needs over those that seek quick-fixes. Associated Renewable’s Energy Audit team will handle the entire Local Law 87 compliance process, from the initial site assessment to the delivery and filing of the final energy efficiency report for clients.

To request a free consultation for Local Law 87 energy audits and retro-commissioning, please contact the Energy Solutions team at (212) 444-8215 or info@local-law-87.com