We recently conducted a study on a portfolio of our projects pertaining to LEED and energy performance. After analyzing energy consumption and cost over 20 buildings of similar size, type, and region over a wide range of year built and LEED status components we found some interesting results. This blog will cover one area of our findings, the human component.

When we finished one of our first buildings designed to LEED standards we, of course, went through owner training. When the training started the first comment from the facility manager was “oh no, a computer”, not good. We had given the client a relatively sophisticated system but nothing out of the ordinary for a modern building, the problem was the manager hadn’t worked in a modern facility. Training took place but it wasn’t long before the person was demoted and a new manager with the needed experience was brought on board.

This experience is not a new one and it should be a warning to those who anticipate high energy performance out of their facilities. The fact is that design professionals can give you a prius but if you drive it in 2nd gear all the time it won’t perform. Owner’s need to be aware of the training that comes with the systems and their associated costs. The findings and our follow up on the data set led us to realize that the management and monitoring of the system had more to do with energy savings than any LEED related piece of equipment. The data showed that older facities with no sustainable elements properly managed could out perform its newer counter parts.

When we analyze sustainable components for our building we often look at the payback period. We encourage our owners to build in their budget continuing education, time, and training of their staff, we suspect the payback will outperform that of most mechanical upgrades.

Paul Wember, Wember Inc. ~ Owner’s Representative