No matter where your high-rise building is located, rising energy costs can have a drastic impact on your community association’s budget. Implementing methods to conserve energy can help your association reduce energy costs and optimize your high-rise’s annual budget.

How can my high-rise property reduce energy costs?

Condominium associations and cooperatives (co-ops) can reduce energy costs through various strategies aimed at improving energy efficiency and promoting conservation. Here are several approaches they can consider:
  • Energy Audits:

    Conducting energy audits to identify areas of energy inefficiency within the condominium complex can provide valuable insights into where improvements are needed. When you partner with a professional management company like FirstService Residential, you can gain exclusive access to our affiliate FirstService Energy and its suite of energy management resources.

5 ways to reduce energy costs in your condo or coop
  1. Initial Assessment: The audit begins with a review of historical energy consumption data, building plans, and occupancy schedules.
  2. On-site Inspection: Trained professionals conduct a thorough inspection of the building, examining systems such as lighting, HVAC, insulation, windows, and appliances. They look for areas of inefficiency, air leaks, and outdated equipment.
  3. Data Collection: Energy auditors collect data on equipment specifications, operating conditions, and energy usage patterns.
  4. Analysis: Using specialized software and tools, auditors analyze the collected data to identify opportunities for energy savings and calculate potential cost reductions.
  5. Recommendations: Based on the findings, auditors provide recommendations for energy-efficient upgrades and retrofits, along with estimates of potential energy and cost savings.
  6. Report: A detailed audit report is prepared, outlining findings, recommendations, and prioritized action items for improving energy efficiency.
Communities who partner with FirstService Energy receive annual benchmarking reports comparing energy usage across thousands of other participating properties. Learn more about energy benchmarking in our article “Enhancing energy benchmarking in condos and co-ops”.
  • Upgrading Lighting:

    One of the most significant ways to save electricity–between 10 and 20 percent–is by converting your building’s incandescent and fluorescent lights to LED lighting in all common areas (garage, hallways, lobby, exterior, etc.) By replacing outdated, energy-intensive lighting fixtures with modern, energy-efficient LED alternatives, high-rise properties can achieve substantial cost savings and environmental benefits.

    LED lighting offers numerous advantages, including lower energy consumption, longer lifespan, and superior light quality. Through a comprehensive lighting upgrade project, common areas such as hallways, lobbies, parking lots, and recreational facilities can be illuminated more effectively while simultaneously reducing energy costs and maintenance expenses.
  • HVAC System Upgrades:

    Upgrading the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems in your property provides an opportunity to enhance energy efficiency, indoor comfort, and overall building performance. Modern HVAC technologies offer significant energy savings, indoor air quality, and overall efficiencies, making them a compelling investment for condominiums seeking to reduce operational costs and improve resident satisfaction.

    Improving the efficiency of your building’s air conditioning is a relatively simple undertaking. However, it can reduce your building’s electricity usage by 5 to 10 percent (saving your community thousands of dollars per year), with a one- to three-year payback. Chris Normandeau, Director of FirstService Energy, said that, in Florida, FS Energy has saved buildings up to $50,000 a year by upgrading their air conditioning systems.
  • Optimized cold water booster pumps:

    By installing a control device on the water pumps, you can operate your pumps at lower speeds while still providing the water pressure your building needs. This can result in electrical savings between one and five percent with a one- to five-year payback. Neptune, a Toronto high-rise managed by FirstService Residential, optimized its water pumps and expects to save almost $38,000 a year.
  • Cooling tower fan controls:

    Cooling tower fan controls play a crucial role in optimizing the operation of cooling tower systems, which are commonly used in large buildings for HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning). These controls are designed to adjust the speed and operation of cooling tower fans based on real-time conditions, resulting in improved energy efficiency and reduced energy costs.

    Many fans on cooling towers have a variable frequency drive, more commonly known as multiple speeds. And sometimes those fans work needlessly hard. Reducing their use through something like a speed drive will still keep the building cool but reduce energy consumption by as much as 20 percent.
    These are just a few options your high-rise community can look into. By implementing these strategies, your condominium can effectively reduce energy costs while also promoting sustainability.

Invest in an energy management plan

An energy management plan is a comprehensive strategy developed to efficiently manage and optimize energy consumption within a property or organization particularly relevant for high-rise properties due to their size and energy demands. It outlines specific goals, measures, and actions aimed at reducing energy usage, improving energy efficiency, and ultimately lowering operational costs while minimizing environmental impact.

Normandeau, highlights the importance of establishing an energy management plan before implementing any energy-saving options; “A combination of factors–including hotter summers and rising electricity costs–make this the right time for high-rise and condominium buildings to prepare an energy action plan. It’s important to put this together first, so you’ll be sure that your various retrofits will all work together.”

Aside from helping the association better manage its energy upgrades, implementing an energy management plan can lead to significant cost savings by identifying and addressing areas of energy inefficiency, ensuring compliance with energy regulations, and potentially commanding higher property values.

By diversifying energy sources, adopting renewable energy technologies, and implementing energy-saving measures, high-rise properties can mitigate energy costs and ensure long-term financial stability. In essence, an energy management plan serves as a crucial tool for high-rise properties to optimize energy use, reduce costs, and demonstrate environmental responsibility in today's energy-conscious landscape.

Determining which programs are most appropriate for your condominium building and how much you will save can be challenging. A professional property management company that is experienced in planning and implementing energy management programs can make that job much easier.

To learn more about FirstService Residential and its affiliate FirstService Energy, contact a member of our team, and we will be happy to discuss how our professional staff and depth of resources can better support your community.
Friday February 23, 2024