Older buildings tend to be less efficient than their more modern counterparts. Aging materials, damage and outdated construction techniques lead to high energy consumption at properties built several decades ago. However, that doesn’t mean that the facilities can’t be upgraded to improve their efficiency and provide companies with significant savings.

A major renovation at the Empire State Building has exceeded expectations, surpassing its original estimates by four percent. Further savings are expected as individual units receive additional work over the next four years. The ownership group, Malkin Properties, will be able to save $4.4 million annually due to the extensive $550 million retrofit. The skyscraper, which was completed in 1931, is serving as a model for other properties to reducing energy consumption.

Energy Saving Tips for Commercial Real Estate Building Property Managers

“The energy efficiency was a huge component of our success in repositioning the building,” said Anthony Malkin, President of Malkin Properties. “There’s a savings in cost to the buildings and to our tenants. We make it possible for our tenants to improve their bottom line.”

Area Development shared some immediate actions property and building managers can take to reduce energy costs:

• Retro-commissioning: “Just as your car needs to have its oil, fluids, tires, and belts replaced to keep it running efficiently, a building also needs regular maintenance. Making small changes to a building’s operational timing can make a huge difference in energy usage and savings. For example, there is little need to run the air conditioning at night when a building is not occupied. As buildings get older, energy efficient design efforts that were incorporated in the initial construction may have been defeated. A retro-commissioning process can return the building to the intended operational efficiency.”

• Steam trap maintenance or replacement: “Poorly maintained steam systems are a common issue for many hospitals and older commercial buildings that rely on large boilers for heat. Many times these buildings have hundreds of small steam traps that control the condensate within the steam system. If they are not maintained regularly, they can get stuck open and return steam back to the boiler system resulting in excessive energy use. The result is wasted heat and wasted energy used to operate the boiler.”

• HVAC systems optimization: “In cold climates, older boilers must be maintained properly in order to run at peak efficiency during business hours. In warm climates, the same holds true for chillers. In many cases, replacing an aging chiller with a new energy efficient model can create energy cost savings. Other significant energy saving opportunities can exist with heat recovery options and thermal energy storage.”

• Utilizing advanced materials: “Super efficient windows, lighting fixtures, and sustainable construction materials and design can make a major impact on energy performance. When preparing an energy solutions strategy, perform an extensive building energy audit to determine the key areas where energy saving can be achieved. The solutions may include changes to the building envelope, upgrade of lighting systems, or application of modern, renewable energy solutions to meet the needs of the building owners, today, and for the life of the building.”

Building management software is designed to help property managers catalog expenses related to renovations, construction, maintenance and more. This allows operators to control their budgets more effectively and oversee various tasks. The tools can also be used to share information with tenants, subcontractors and staff members.

In addition, regularly reviewing and analyzing expenses related to climate control, lighting, water and other factors lets property managers properly estimate energy costs and savings over the life of a project.