Building gets another EPA Energy Star for its efforts

September 28, 2009
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For the second consecutive year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the Campau Square Plaza Building an Energy Star designation, the nation’s leading emblem of superior energy efficiency and environmental protection.

On top of that, the building, at 99 Monroe Ave. NW, is the only multi-tenant office structure in West Michigan that has captured the prestigious certification to date. The 13-level, 200,000-square foot structure is owned by Westminster Campau LLC of Lake Forest, Ill.

“We’re very pleased about it, as well as working with an ownership group that has worked so diligently to put us in the position to do that,” said Drew Miller, managing director for CB Richard Ellis/Grand Rapids, the firm that manages the property.

Being awarded the Energy Star means the energy performance of the Campau Square Plaza Building ranks in the top 25 percent of all facilities nationwide.

“It is another important recognition of our commitment to sustainability and energy conservation,” said Matt Van Wie, asset manager for Westminster Campau.

Miller pointed out that CBRE/GR keeps a close eye on the building’s energy usage by maintaining daily records and updating that information each month, an effort he said all CBRE firms regularly perform.

“Part of the rational behind that is we represent almost 2 billion square feet globally, and with our role in the industry and in working with the owners, we can make a dramatic impact on that,” said Miller.

Westminster Campau installed a computerized energy management system in the building two years ago that monitors and reviews energy use on a daily basis, and since the installation, the owners have attained two Energy Star certifications and saved a bundle on heating and cooling costs.

“The system basically controls all the major components in the building and it runs everything from what the weather is doing outside. It knows whether it’s 85 degrees outside in the summer and it knows whether it’s 5 below zero in the winter. So it bases all of the set points on that,” said Michael Martz, CBRE/GR property manager who is LEED-AP certified.

“So it maximizes all of that energy use. When you don’t really need things running full bore, they don’t,” said Martz, who added that the building’s tenants approve of the HVAC settings and resulting service. “We very rarely get any complaints in this facility.”

To earn an Energy Star from the EPA, a building has to score a rating of 75 on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest attainable score. Martz said last year when the Campau Square Plaza Building was awarded its first designation, it had a rating of 84. But as of last week, the building’s rating had risen to 87, and the plan is to take it even higher.

“We’re actually looking at making some additional improvements here over the next couple of years because we’re going through LEED certification right now and we’re hoping that (rating) is going to be 90, which would be fantastic,” said Martz.

Martz said the LEED goal for the building is Gold certification.

“There was an opportunity for us to get a Platinum. But that takes a lot more involvement, and it would have taken a lot more money to do certain things that in this kind of economy really wasn’t a smart thing to do. It can be an additional $30,000 to $40,000 to get that done, and that’s a pretty good size price tag,” he explained.

Spending extra dollars to pursue a Platinum LEED would cut into the monetary savings the building has achieved in energy expenditures, which Martz estimated has been about $200,000 a year the past two years. Those savings come from an investment of roughly $40,000 that Westminster Campau made in the computerized energy management system.

“The main reason we were able to get the Energy Star was because of how things were currently operating,” said Martz. “But when they put in that HVAC computer system, I think they saw between 30 and 40 percent savings on energy use. You’re talking a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year. When you starting plugging that in, there are a lot of dollars there.”

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