15 Questions with Leading Energy Management Consultant
Gotham 360's executive partner, Jennifer Kearney, shares her insights on energy management in uncertain times, the changes in various sectors, and the importance of collaborating with other energy experts.
Jennifer Kearney is the founder and executive partner at Gotham 360, a national energy management consultancy headquartered in New York City.
Gotham 360 delivers innovative, fully-integrated, and cost-efficient programmatic solutions that reduce energy consumption and costs while maximizing operational efficiency.
Jennifer shares her insights as she answers questions about building an energy procurement strategy aligned with the realities of the 21st century - and the unique challenges facilities and buildings face since the onset of the COVID pandemic.
1. What makes Gotham 360 different from others in the energy management and consulting industry?
Traditionally in the energy consulting world, there are two choices: either an energy engineering firm that focuses solely on consumption - or you have energy brokers who focus solely on procurement.
Gotham 360 will evaluate both supply and demand and assemble a programmatic structure with a strategy where these two elements are complementary to one another...
We're able to deliver the highest amount of value to the property owner because my firm is looking at both ends of the equation.
2. What kinds of services do you offer?
We break out our service offerings into four key categories: energy procurement, resiliency, efficiency, and sustainability.
Taking advantage of deregulated retail markets for energy commodities, like natural gas or electricity, helps a building owner manage their risk, maintain an operational budget, and deliver cost savings. Procurement is really about securing the lowest possible unit cost.
Delivering reliable power through the implementation of clean distributed generation - which is power generated on-site as opposed to being grid purchased.
Helping a building owner eliminate waste and reduce their energy usage by implementing infrastructure improvements or other efficiency projects (lighting, controls, etc.).
Greenhouse gas accounting, climate action planning, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility reporting.
3. Which market sectors does your company focus on?
We work with healthcare, higher education, real estate, and government.
Real estate can include commercial real estate, industrial real estate, multifamily real estate. It can be a big bucket.
Now in healthcare, there's a constant challenge to improve efficiency, while at the same time, you have to maintain adherence to some pretty strict code requirements around the number of times you're changing out air, which greatly affects the energy consumption from a central utility plant.
4. How is COVID impacting the healthcare sector when it comes to their energy management?
In years past, we have focused on reducing air changes to save energy. Today we are ramping up air changes to provide better protection from the transmission of infection.
And it's only become more critical during the COVID pandemic.
5. What changes have you seen in the university sector when it comes to energy and sustainability since COVID?
At universities, we see a lot of economic challenges because a lot of universities have closed campuses.
So students are not on-site, and that has a definite impact on the bottom line.
A lot of universities are taking advantage of getting projects done that they would ordinarily have a very difficult time getting done if the buildings were full of people.
So the really smart universities are engaging in projects right now, knowing that they have an accelerated timeline to get things complete.
They don't have to schedule their work around the occupancy of a classroom. But we see a lot of financial pressure in higher ed.
Sustainability is continuing to be a big driver in higher ed. So the balance between renewable energy products, which tend to be more costly than traditional energy products. And the desire to work towards some very aggressive greenhouse gas reduction bills.
We still see sustainability at the top of the list in terms of priorities in higher ed.
6. What have you seen shift in commercial real estate?
Commercial real estate - they're hurting financially. We're helping them find opportunities for cost savings and improving revenue. We continue to focus on strategies that deliver a good return on investment.
Right now - and in a post-pandemic environment - accurate data and accurate real-time data about what your building is doing has never been more important.
So, utiliVisor's service, collecting data at a very granular level and providing you with real-time information and real-time recommendations, is critical for the commercial real estate sector.
7. How did you meet utiliVisor?
We were at an industry awards dinner. I nominated one of my clients for an award, and they were there to collect it.
And as soon as they started talking to me about what they did, I said, "I can't believe I haven't run into you before because that's exactly what I need."
And we moved forward fairly quickly with some introductions to the major healthcare networks in the city that we've been working with for years, who really needed a solution.
They needed what utiliVisor was providing.
8. What about utiliVisor stood out to you in your initial meeting at the awards dinner?
Their experience in central plants. It is truly unique.
You can't find really good central plant expertise. And I think that was one of the most exciting things. Because they truly understood the interplay of central plant operations: highly complex industrial processes.
They compared microgrids in buildings to being on a ship.
And the fact that they come from the Maritime background was a real asset in understanding equipment, understanding the need for reliability, and always working towards the most efficient solution. Plus, they are training the building operators.
9. How do clients benefit from Gotham 360's collaboration with utiliVisor?
utiliVisor is undoubtedly helping to compress the consumption. The central plant tends to be the biggest energy user on a campus.
utiliVisor is compressing that consumption to eliminate all of the waste and sustain the savings.
And I'm helping the customer to buy the energy that they need at the lowest available cost.
10. What do clients say about working with Gotham 360 and utiliVisor?
One of the things that our clients have repeatedly complimented us on is our communication ability.
We can speak at very high levels, technically. Still, we can also take a very technical solution and explain it to make the information accessible for a person that isn't as technical.
11. What other benefits do clients see that maybe they weren't expecting?
One of the things that happen pretty often is that a customer might think, "Oh, we're already very efficient." Because they've invested a lot of money and they've spent a lot of time on efficiency.
Then, utiliVisor comes through with their process and their data gathering, and they find a lot of the opportunities that traditionally get missed.
12. How are utility rebates and incentive programs helping owners make decisions on new energy upgrades?
The incentive programs are a real game-changer, in terms of a project going forward or not.
The financial aspect is very important, but getting an incentive from the state really gives your project that stance of credibility.
And some owners are not aware that there are so many: commercial, industrial, the multifamily program. There are programs for every single building type.
13. How does Gotham 360 help owners take advantage of utility rebates and incentive programs?
We'll identify the available rebate. We'll do the full application, the site visit, the post-inspection.
We'll supply it to a customer front to back.
Our customers have full businesses. They are stretched thin. And they need to know that they're getting the value, but they don't have the time to pursue the rebates themselves.
We take care of it for them.
14. How does utiliVisor's service help you and the client when you're working on getting the different utility rebates and incentives?
The most important aspect of an application is the data. So the before and after data. utiliVisor makes that very easy.
They do metering upfront to take a look at the existing conditions. Plus, metering is an inherent part of their solution.
So we have an established baseline of how much the facility was consuming before the project was installed. And then we have the continuous monitoring and metering data after the project was installed.
And you can clearly see the drop in energy consumption.
That data really helps to maximize the amount of money that you get back in your incentive application.
Because it takes all the guesswork out. You have a before and after - a very accurate picture.
15. How are you advising NYC building owners and managers to handle Local Law compliance?
We're encouraging building owners not to wait until the last minute. We recommend planning now.
We're having consistent conversations about what's coming and the need to do planning and preparations, rather than letting the freight train hit you.
Since our clients have billion-dollar assets, there's potential for significant fines coming up in the next three years. But it's not a hopeless cause.
We then explain that we should be biting off manageable pieces to do every year until the date of compliance.
There's a strategic way to meet compliance. Let's look at this across a multiple-year strategy.
About Gotham 360
Are you looking at an aging infrastructure? Need to engage in master planning and look at new boilers, generators, chillers, automation systems, cogeneration, and HVAC equipment?
Maybe you're buying gas and power straight from the utility - not the lowest cost - and need to look at opportunities for deregulated energy purchasing.
Gotham 360 - a national energy management consultancy headquartered in New York City - delivers innovative, fully-integrated, and cost-efficient programmatic solutions that reduce energy consumption and costs, & maximize operational efficiency.
When you need a partner to help you navigate the complexities of deregulated energy markets, Gotham 360 offers creative energy strategies, so you know you're getting the best.
Your tenant submetering and energy plant optimization services are an essential part of your operation. You deserve personalized energy insights from a team that knows buildings from the inside out, applies IoT technology and is energized by providing you with accurate data and energy optimization insights. When you need experience, expertise, and service, you need utiliVisor on your side, delivering consistent energy and cost-saving strategies to you. What more can our 40 years of experience and historical data do for you? Call utiliVisor at 212-260-4800 or visit utilivisor.com