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Mar 17, 2011

New Tool Helps Portfolio Owners Prospect for Profitable Retrofits

 

An exciting tool is now available for those prospecting for profitable building retrofits.

Analogous to giving a miner a GPS and the coordinates of a gold vein, the new Retroficiency software tool tells building owners, managers and service providers which building to target for retrofit.

A Boston-based startup, Retroficiency recently announced a working relationship with property management giant Jones Lang LaSalle to test the product on real portfolios.

For large building portfolios—common to Fortune 500 companies, institutional investors and municipalities—the analysis required to determine which buildings to retrofit can be cost prohibitive. By narrowing down which buildings are ripe for retrofit, Retroficiency reduces the cost of up-front analysis.

CEO Bennett Fisher told me in an interview that the tool has the flexibility to be used for high level estimates as well as very detailed analysis. The tool enables facility managers to estimate energy savings and return on investment, using just a few pieces of information that they typically have on hand. Once a building has been selected for deeper analysis, the tool can save engineers “25 percent to 50 percent of their time in analyzing all types of buildings and sizes.”

Right Timing: The Key To Retrofit Success

A critical step in planning a deep energy retrofit is determining the right time or finding the right building. Rocky Mountain Institute has listed a few key events that occur during a building lifecycle and other situations that can significantly improve both the economics and convenience of energy improvements.

Retroficiency’s software can help portfolio owners quantify the opportunity associated with two items on that list: end of life HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) and lighting equipment, and fixing an “energy hog.”

How Retroficiency Works

The Retroficiency software serves as a front end to a standard energy model and automatically analyzes potential energy efficiency measures ranging from window replacement to better HVAC controls to estimate the opportunity.

Energy modeling requires a lot of front-end inputs that typically can only be determined by visiting the building—counting light fixtures, identifying efficiencies of the heating and cooling equipment, and other time-consuming tasks. After obtaining all the inputs and producing a building energy model, energy analysts then design and model energy efficiency measures. They also estimate the capital cost in order to calculate the return on investment.

The software allows users to breeze through these tasks by leveraging predictive analytics—that is, making educated guesses. Similar to how a Google search box finishes a phrase, Retroficiency takes basic inputs and dynamically infers more detailed information.

The Retroficiency platform uses data analytics from tens of thousands of past retrofit projects. “One of the powerful parts of the tool is that you can change any of the information—maybe you have 305 light bulbs versus the 303 the model predicted—which allows it to be useful deeper into the analysis process,” Fisher said.

For more on how to find “retrofit gold,” visit www.retrofitdepot.org, a premier online resource offering case studies, free energy modeling tools and a step-by-step overview of the deep retrofit process to help commercial building owners and managers, and energy service practitioners, profitably pursue deep energy retrofits.

 

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Showing 1-1 of 1 comments

March 22, 2011

That's pretty cool software Michael. I spend a lot of time retrofitting old REO properties in the State of Michigan. One of the best retrofits is blowing recycled newspaper insulation into the exterior walls of these homes. It basically cuts the energy bills in half instantly. Commercial buildings would have an even bigger benefit due to the NOI and decreasing expenses. Not only could the owner charge more for rent (because tenants save so much on utility costs) but the overall expenses associated with the property go down. Thus, really increasing the NOI. Great strategy!

Matt Stookey
Blogger on http://Greenhabbing101.com

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