LBA Realty: A Comprehensive, Building-level Approach to Reducing Energy and Emissions - Diversified Communic

Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions, Sourcing Renewables  -  April 10, 2023 - By Better Buildings, U.S. Department of Energy

LBA Realty: A Comprehensive, Building-level Approach to Reducing Energy and Emissions

LBA Realty developed a systematic, multistep approach to reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions at One Culver, an 8-story mixed-use office property located in Los Angeles, California. Built in 1986 with renovations made in 2017, One Culver offers over 375,000 square feet of rentable office, retail, restaurant, production studio, and gym space. Through guidance offered from the Better Buildings Low Carbon Pilot (LCP), LBA Realty worked to improve the efficiency and emissions at One Culver by pursuing a renewable energy contract, installing window tinting, altering the energy management system and performing audits to identify retro-commissioning opportunities.

One Culver is located in California, which means it falls within a regulated energy market. In 2022, LBA entered this property into the Direct Access lottery for the opportunity to procure energy, specifically generation costs, within the open energy market.  They were selected into the lottery and given the opportunity to competitively bid energy costs and contemplate the purchase of renewable energy. LBA conducted an analysis of the business case for purchasing 100% renewable energy. This analysis determined that enrolling in a 5-year fixed contract, there was a business case to be able to purchase 100% renewable energy through reduction in operating costs and progressing their ESG goals forward at the property.

With the procurement of 100% renewable energy, One Culver will achieve net neutral/net-zero scope 2 carbon emissions as all their purchased energy is offset.

As a result of One Culver’s southwestern sun exposure, the building was experiencing high temperature variations that affected efficiency and building comfort. When assessing solutions, LBA determined that there was a business case to install tinting on the single-paned glass windows. This solution would help with heat rejection to lessen the radiant heat entering the space and minimizing heat load which would reduce the energy consumption needed for cooling.   In addition to reducing energy and heat consumption, the window tinting initiative reduced wear and tear on base building HVAC equipment (by reducing the energy needed to maintain a comfortable temperature) and improved customer comfort and satisfaction.  

The window tinting project has yielded the following results:

  • Electricity consumption reduction of 501K kWh or 14% of HVAC-related usage and 7% of total site usage
  • Peak demand reduction of 162 kW or 8%
  • 10-degree temperature differential with tinting
  • Approximately 15% reduction in customer comfort complaints

After successfully piloting a program to optimize their HVAC system at their Irvine corporate headquarters, Park Place, LBA took steps to implement the same system at One Culver in summer 2022. The program continuously makes minor adjustments to adjust fan speed and chiller loads through artificial intelligence to reduce energy use, while still prioritizing tenant comfort.

The program also includes Real-time HVAC metering and Fault Detection Diagnosis (FDD) technologies to flag settings outside of pre-determined comfort and energy use ranges, which should also save operating expenses.

LBA’s occupancy rates recently increased, which has made it difficult to quantify energy savings as baseline energy use has changed in recent years. In 2023, LBA is looking to identify opportunities for energy savings and retro-commission the building. The decarbonization framework and template provided through the Better Buildings Low Carbon Pilot inspired the LBA team to incorporate energy audits every three years at properties where they are in operational control, which includes One Culver. LBA utilizes a standard energy audit checklist and requests auditors and engineers to consider carbon-neutral pathways. The GHG Emissions Reduction Audit: A Checklist for Owners, a new resource from the Better Climate Challenge, will further support these audits by providing an all-encompassing checklist for the auditors. In turn, the findings from audits inform action plans for property managers to implement efficiency measures at each property. This audit process allows LBA to identify opportunities and build those into the operational budgets. These reports also provide capital investment ideas to provide further energy savings.

One of the goals of the Better Buildings Low Carbon Pilot (LCP) is for partners to create carbon action plan templates for their buildings. LBA incorporated emissions reduction metrics from the LCP action plan template into each property’s internal action plan. To further engage property teams in ESG initiatives, LBA tasks each property team with completing their building’s action plan template. Emissions reduction-related metrics in the action plans include:

  • Energy Use Intensity (EUI) data
  • A building carbon footprint
  • ENERGY STAR score

Pathway outlined to reduce energy and emissions using the low carbon priority waterfall (see graphic below)

Property teams will update the action plans annually to analyze areas for improvement and the ESG Team compares action plans to evaluate portfolio-wide performance.

Incorporating carbon action plans into normal business operations has opened conversations and enabled further collaboration between LBA‘s ESG, engineering, and property teams.

This column originally appeared on the Better Buildings Solutions Center website.

The Better Buildings Solution Center houses over 3,000 resources shared by Better Buildings partners and other stakeholders. These replicable solutions help organizations bolster their bottom line, advance technology innovation, create jobs, and spur energy efficiency investments. 



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