Portfolio Manager

The Wrong Way to Get to Net Zero

November 30, 2016

Because our office is LEED EBOM Platinum certified (and because we’re just nerdy that way), we track our energy bills pretty closely. Our Portfolio Manager account is stocked with month-by-month reports of how much energy our solar panels produce and how much energy we had to pull from the grid. On a generous day, one might say the data is almost current. Shave off the boundless optimism and we’re a few months behind in reviewing the meter readings.

As we prepared to wrap up 2016, the usually straightforward task of uploading our utility data to Portfolio Manager became a headscratcher. Our utility bills just were not lining up with what our PV meter indicated. At first, this looked like good news – our utility company said we had been a net-positive energy producer for a few months!  After a few exultant minutes, we realized the PV array was sized to produce 60% of our energy, not all of it. Uh oh.

Turns out that we had drawn everyone’s favorite Community Chest card in Monopoly; this was a bank error in our favor.  We’ve got an “In” meter to measure what we pull from the grid and an “Out” meter to measure what our solar panels produce. The utility company had our meters reversed in their system, so we were receiving some over-generous credits.Like every benchmarking effort we’ve worked on, our in-house program was successful at tracking down a problem. Sure, no one enjoys finding out that they’re not performing as well as they expected. But that’s the most valuable part! With good data on hand, we’ll keep on making our office better for us and better for the environment. Uncorrected, who knows how much energy we would have wasted while toasting ourselves for being green?

We truly believe that benchmarking is a cornerstone of any sustainable building. Whether in-house or with a client, we’ve seen the value it brings and the dollars it saves. To those who don’t benchmark? Well, as the poet said: “I pity the fool.”