Your Complete Guide to Educating Your Tenants on Submetering

Today’s property managers know their stuff. Not only do they recognize the importance of the green building trend, but they’re also highly aware of cost savings opportunities, the plain and simple kind. Utility submetering, offered by Hamdon Submetering, facilitates those.

But why not get the tenants in on the scoop too? At Hamdon, we believe submetering is as beneficial to the tenant as it is for the property manager. In today’s blog, we discuss the best strategies we could find, to help you educate your tenants about submetering.

A quick rundown of the benefits of submetering:

  • It not only measures, but verifies and benchmarks energy initiatives, including LEED Energy credits
  • It monitors utility usage in real-time, offering valuable visibility on actual energy usage and its impacts in terms of CO2 emissions and kWh dollars
  • It helps to evaluate, in real time, the impact of critical load-shedding activities
  • It allows comparisons of energy usage by day, week, month or year, and across different pieces of equipment
  • It offers peak demand identification
  • It provides insight into multi-site load aggregation for negotiating lower energy rates
  • Combined with an energy intelligence software system, it allows users to better understand when, where and how energy is being used
  • Such diagnostic functions also include the ability to identify equipment that may be close to failure
  • It helps in hedging maintenance downtime of tenant equipment and common area equipment

Tenant-specific benefits

While the environmentally conscious tenant would actively seek to reduce their carbon footprint through green energy initiatives, such as those facilitated by submetering, all tenants would be happy with more accurate utility billing.

For many a commercial tenant, energy is no longer considered a fixed cost, but a manageable variable that could seriously impact their bottom line.

According to a feasibility study by the US Department of Energy – Energy Efficiency in Separate Tenant Spaces – a number of other benefits can also be attributed to energy efficient spaces such as increased worker productivity, attracting and retaining employees, and increasing brand value. The same study argues that there is a clear link between energy savings education and behavioral change resulting in reduced energy consumption. For example, a 2013 meta-analysis of 156 energy conservation field studies found that behavioral strategies yielded an average of a 7.4% improvement in energy conservation.

Education Strategies for the Property Manager

According to Energy Star and the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the following 8 strategies are helpful in educating tenants about the benefits of submetering:

1) Be Transparent

  • Share your energy efficiency goals
  • Share data with tenants such as the building’s total energy use and the building’s ENERGY STAR/LEED score
  • Design a web portal through which submetered tenants can access their energy usage profile and data.

2) Leverage the ENERGY STAR brand to appeal to tenants

Not only is the brand widely recognized, but you may use publications offered by ENERGY STAR for free, such as easy-to-read posters, tip cards and brochures, to help spread the word around your building. Such tools are available at this link.

3) Increase General Awareness

Schedule meetings with tenants to improve their overall understanding of their energy use and impacts. Tailor the messages to fit the audience and be prepared to answer the chief concerns of your tenants. Specifically for Alberta property managers, this link provides a useful summary of some frequently asked questions by consumers. They can be used, however, as a more general guide to anticipate tenant questions anywhere in Canada.

4) Assess Current Practices & Identify Opportunities

When you’ve assessed how your tenants currently use their space, identify their opportunities for improvements. Give them a plan or a checklist so they know what they can do to improve.

Bentall Kennedy’s Sustainable Tenant Improvement Manual can be a valuable resource in helping tenants identify and assess their green energy goals.

5) Partner & Empower

Empower your tenants to take an active role in improving the efficiency of their building:

  • Collectively establish performance goals for the building
  • Create a building green team!
  • Appoint energy champions
  • Welcome new ideas and create an easy channel for tenants to share their suggestions with you

6) Incentivize

When an established goal has been achieved, offer a reward! Inexpensive incentives such as a bagel basket, movie tickets or some very clear recognition on the building’s lobby board, can keep tenants motivated about submetering.

7) Host a Competition

Focusing people’s competitive spirit on green energy can go a long way, if you keep it fun and fair. According to Energy Star, in 2011, at the EPA’s National Building Competition 245 competitors saved 240 million kBtu of energy and $5.2 million on utility bills.

8) Communicate!

  • Establish a dedicated marketing collateral budget
  • Connect with tenants in ways that have the most impact, such as events, videos (as discussed on page 24 of this report) and social media posts
  • Use scorecard posters to report on Energy Star / LEED score improvement
  • Maintain regular contact with reminders, tips, and updates
  • Celebrate successes

Submetering gives control back to tenants and allows them to make better choices.