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Displaying Building Energy Data

August 14, 2013 | 3 comments

Vornado Realty Trust in New York estimates that between 60% and 80% of the energy used in its office buildings is actually consumed by tenants within their own office spaces. The company has found that, by providing access to real-time energy use data, its tenants work harder to identify and change wasteful energy practices.

This principle is playing out across the globe, as more and more organizations are providing tenants and occupants with a minute-by-minute look at the energy they consume.

Implementing simple energy feedback measures, such as displaying real-time energy use statistics for tenants and occupants to see, can result in energy cost savings of up to 15%, according to one study. Simply by providing energy use information about where usage occurs and how it compares to benchmarks or historical use may allow tenants and occupants to make behavior modifications to save energy.

The Empire State Building estimates that it has already saved more than $386,000 just by letting tenants view energy and benchmarking information online. By offering access to a digital dashboard that shows energy use in real-time, tenants can compare their energy use to previous months, as well as to the energy use of other building tenants. A little dose of competition may even spur some tenants to take action and reduce their plug loads, turn off lights, etc.

Royal Bank Plaza’s two downtown Toronto office towers present sustainability dashboards on high-resolution digital screens placed in elevator lobbies. These dashboards show real-time electricity use and compare it to previous months. They also feature tenant green success stories and tenant progress on established energy targets.

The University of Iowa offers online access to the performance of every building on its campus, from dormitories to the student life center. You can see here how the college displays energy use and allows site visitors to compare it to data from previous months. The dashboards display trends for steam, electricity, and chilled water use for the last 24 hours and the last 30 days. They also provide immediate feedback on tenants’ energy conservation efforts.

Do you display your building’s real-time energy use for tenants and occupants to see? Why or why not? 



  1. GreenAdvocate
    August 19, 2013

    The dashboard in the lobby sounds like a smart idea. This is similar to what Alex Laskey spoke about at TED (How behavioral science can lower your energy bill)

  2. Paul Nagy
    August 22, 2013

    This concept has many variables, including but not limited to MOC’s, Data Centers, mixed use facilities and the number of actual employees that work at each location, Tier ratings, i.e. On peak, mid peak, off peak and sometimes super off peak utility rates. Typically, MOC’s or Data Centers have linear loads with Maybe 20-30 employees. Mixed use properties or Admin properties have a greater use for such a tool, as most MOC’s already have these types of systems built into their design. Where the employee and companies could benefit or increase the is when the contributing person or persons or groups have a vested interest or a recognition program where its more of a competition either built into the companies financial reporting. This does take extra time and labor from a administrative perspective. If the total energy use including not just power but all utilities such as cooling, heating, gas, water, reclamation of waste, closing the blinds prior to the sun reaching there side of the property, most of which can be mandated by building policies and procedures, especially in leased properties. To effectively save with what your discussion leads towards, showing the clients another display panel, there should be a realized cost incentive to the BU, owned or

  3. Paul Nagy
    August 22, 2013

    leased and a strict building policy to reinforce the data being shown, i.e. how much has this BU saved over the other and as you mentioned, other examples of Green efforts and other related efforts towards not only saving at work, but home and transportation as well. Bottom line! Great concept, would like to know more about the integrated software as it relates to how each company can easily incorporate this data into there financial results.

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