Planning to make Riderwood more environmentally friendly

By Shanna Gordon

Member, Sustainability Committee

In 2018, Riderwood partnered with Era Building Solutions to begin developing a Master Energy Strategy to gain a better understanding of our energy usage and help us become a more efficient community. By way of illustration, from 2016 to 2017, Riderwood’s water, gas, and electricity consumption each individually increased by over 20%. Currently, we’re spending over five million dollars per year on combined water, gas, and electrical utilities – that equates to around $5.50 for each resident apartment per day! Given these costs, it became clear that understanding our energy consumption patterns, developing a strategy to address those patterns, and introducing additional energy efficient processes and equipment could add up to significant savings long-term. With the help of Era, we are beginning the retrocommissioning process (a fancy way of saying “campus energy tune-up”) to make our existing systems more efficient wherever possible.

Era will be following a four-step process to ensure successful implementation of our tune-up. First, they’ll develop a plan with us and find the best possible incentives from energy companies to help pay for the improvements that are recommended. Second, they will walk the campus, review building systems, take inventory of mechanical equipment, and interview key staff, analyzing our overall efficiency and helping us to better understand the benefits of making improvements. Third, they’ll start the “tune-up” process, make incremental upgrades to our existing systems, perform staff training, and begin measuring results. Lastly, Era will continue tracking results while helping to plan for and implement future energy improvements.

While this seems like a whole lot to do, the potential benefits can be tremendous. A typical process like the one we plan to undertake is targeted to save five plus percent per year, and—with large campuses such as ours—even a two percent decrease would represent savings of over $100,000 per year! Our out of pocket costs should be very low as well with incentives estimated to cover up to 75% of the expected fees. Era should be done with the initial planning phase no later than April 2019, with the completion of most of the “tune-up” process by the end of the year.

We look forward to the environmental and financial improvements!

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