Commercial real estate technology has disrupted the property management sector to such a degree that CRE professionals are struggling to maximize the possibilities at their fingertips. A new survey, conducted by MACH Energy, received a sizable 800 responses from the building professional responsible with overseeing everything from Energy Star scores & sustainability reporting to technology procurement & implementation.
The survey found that property managers are too often undereducated about energy management software, resulting in missed opportunities to capitalize on the transformative benefits CRETech applications have to offer. We had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Jon Moeller, President & Head of Sales of MACH Energy to find out more!
Q. Tell us about the survey; why did you choose to conduct this type of survey and what were you hoping to find?
Given the vast amount of energy consumption in the commercial real estate (CRE) sector, there has been a gradual increase in public awareness of energy efficiency, as well as the potential savings associated with CRETech applications like energy management software (EMS). In the spirit of providing more information and transparency to the industry, MACH Energy has conducted one of the largest industry surveys of building professionals to date to determine:
1) What the primary goals in implementing EMS are - which is to say, is there a clear trend towards sustainability or is reducing costs the highest priority?
2) Which factors are most important to each individual in the running of their buildings? Some examples of these factors include tenant comfort, benchmarking requirements, ENERGY STAR score etc.
3) How important energy management software is, or if installed already, which particular features and tactics are the most useful?
Q. What were the top findings of the survey?
Overall, there seems to be a lack of understanding surrounding the benefits, uses and implementation of energy management software and systems vs. building management systems (BMS). As a result, although many property managers are interested in future deployment, adoption has been inhibited.
For 61% of respondents, cost reduction was still pinpointed as the most important goal in implementing EMS, followed by energy efficiency reasons and increasing ease and flexibility for job purposes. ENERGY STAR benchmarking, which has been a major part of many city and state ordinances is still important, at 28%, but interestingly, the survey showed savings are still the most critical driver - an important takeaway for industry participants.
Even with the increased adoption of energy management systems, the market therefore still remains in a potentially high-growth stage, with 25% of surveyed individuals responding positively to current or future implementation of energy management software and almost 50% leaving the door open for significant future growth.
Q. Did any of the findings surprise you?
One issue muddying the waters is the fact that most surveyed respondents tended to confuse categorical definitions, correlating energy management software (sophisticated technology delivering analytics—real time or otherwise, budget and reporting functions) with building management systems, which are often costly, and integrate and control equipment such as building HVAC systems, VAV boxes, chillers and lighting.
Unlike Energy Management Software, Building Management Systems can often be difficult to use and do not provide analytics, dollar visibility or reporting that optimize energy management operations, resulting in a less-than-ideal framework for reducing costs and increasing job efficiency.
Another surprising discovery was that nearly 60% of the respondents were from buildings 100,000 square feet or higher. There are a number of reasons that could explain this lack of responses from smaller building managers, such as real or perceived lack of budget in smaller buildings, perhaps due to exposure only to expensive BMS systems, less understanding of the benefits of energy efficiency, or the fact that benchmarking ordinances typically target larger buildings first and then proceed to properties with smaller square footages. All in all, though, this suggests that personnel at smaller buildings still need to be educated about the many merits, both practical and financial, of energy management solutions.
Q. What do the survey results mean for MACH Energy?
First, we are extremely grateful to the nearly 800 respondents that spent time answering questions; that sample size alone demonstrates that industry momentum is quickly building. While this rapid shift in the CRE sector is certainly cause for excitement, it is also triggering growing pains throughout the industry. However, with this feedback clarifying the primary concerns and future needs of the marketplace, we believe that MACH's CRETech solution can remedy many of these symptoms. Easy-to-use automated tenant billing/ sub-metering, dollar impact reporting, and multi-utility monitoring that not only analyzes electricity usage, but water, gas, and steam as well were cited as vital EMS services that property managers wanted to maximize their buildings' operational potential. Through a lot of hard work by our team, all are services that have been modernized and improved through MACH’s CRETechnology.
Q. What other CRE technologies do you enjoy right now?
Besides the new mobile platform for our own energy management software, which automatically identifies savings opportunities and automates ENERGY STAR metrics, tenant billing and budget reporting, we have worked closely with a complementary company called Electronic Tenant Solutions (ETS) for several years now. With nearly 500 million square feet using their system, they have a number of CRETech software modules that help enable better tenant communications and improved property operations. For example, ETS has developed several intuitive web-based applications that increase tenant engagement, including a sophisticated tenant and emergency communications platform. They also offer tools that reduce risk of ownership and improve the day-to-day life of building personnel, such as automated certificate of insurance forms for customized renewal and compliance requests.
Essentially, based on our assessment of the survey results, we want to ensure that people are aware of the benefits of Energy Management Software as a cornerstone CRE technology. Unlike Building Management Systems that may be difficult and/or cost prohibitive, EMS can be deployed easily as an overlay to optimize BMS or, alternatively, as a standalone to more efficiently run a building, saving both time and money.