Energy Efficiency Programs Create Competitive Edge For Schaumburg Corporate Center
About 30 miles northwest of Chicago, Schaumburg Corporate Center (SCC) is a Class A building experience, located just steps from Woodfield Mall. Although the building originally opened 40 years ago, it features the modern amenities of any premium downtown location—a credit to its new owner, Glenstar, which acquired SCC in 2017.
“Glenstar looks for assets with untapped potential and invests in them to make improvements that increase value. At SCC, we added an indoor/outdoor tenant lounge, turned the existing fitness center into an elite health club offering group classes and personal training, and renovated the gorgeous atrium that truly brings the outdoors in. Every amenity you can imagine – it’s here, because it’s all about finding and keeping the best tenants,” says Sheree Worcester, Vice President and General Manager for SCC.Attracting and retaining tenants in competitive commercial real estate markets goes beyond offering amenities such as the ones you’ll find at SCC. According to Michael Giese, SCC’s Executive Director of Property Services, “Tenants demand more from us as building operators. Sustainability, energy management, micro-level controls to drive tenant and occupant comfort … these are meaningful differentiators in our portfolio. And now, on top of that, we are working on initiatives that keep people healthy, safe, and comfortable as our tenants deal with their COVID-related challenges.”
SCC has long been a customer of Siemens, partnering over the years to maintain and upgrade the Desigo® CC building automation system (BAS), upgrade building controls, implement energy-savings strategies such as demand controlled ventilation and chilled water optimization, reduce the building’s carbon footprint, and other similar initiatives. Recently, Siemens and SCC embarked on a utility-funded Monitoring-Based Commissioning (MBCx) program designed to promote energy efficiency.
Dramatic energy savings with opportunities for continuous improvement
Worcester explains that although sustainability initiatives are important from corporate responsibility perspective, Glenstar is also committed to reducing energy costs for their tenants. “When you look at operational costs, one of your biggest line items is electricity, and it’s a direct pass-through to your tenants. So, if we save money, they save money too, and we strive to be as responsible in this area as possible.” This philosophy is part of what drove SCC to engage with Siemens on this recent MBCx program.
According to SCC’s Chief Engineer Brian Sanford, the MBCx program from Siemens integrates digital analytics and fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) to monitor the BAS and HVAC equipment in ways that uncover energy efficiency opportunities. The program is funded by SCC’s utility provider and managed by a third party in ways that provide a holistic view of SCC’s infrastructure performance, from the building envelope to individual equipment and meters. “It’s a good value and a good way to review your operations continuously as you look for improvement opportunities,” he says. In fact, Sanford explains, “We have saved 700,000 kilowatt hours already, and we have the tools we need to continually finetune our systems to save energy, save money, and be a good corporate citizen.”
Getting started with MBCx
The process began when Glenstar provided Siemens with a year’s worth of energy data to use within the MBCx software platform, making it available to a team of energy engineers who study the information and look for opportunities to reduce energy consumption. Siemens recommends a range of actions to SCC, and then Sanford’s team validates which ones the Siemens Energy Services team will implement.
It’s a process that Sanford admits required some up-front work and investment of time, but, he says, “That’s in the background now. We don’t even know the MBCx is running until we get a new set of reports. It’s enhanced our ability to do more things in our building. We’ve seen substantial rebates from the utility; these are real opportunities worth looking at. Everything from changing lamps to variable frequency drives – there’s always something we can do, and everything really does make a difference.” Worcester concurs, adding that the “Siemens team took most of the work off of us with a relatively simple program. As long as the engineering team has the time to help set up and launch the program, there’s nothing but benefit, nothing to lose. I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t establish this type of program.”
The Siemens MBCx program is just one of many that Giese believes is helping differentiate SCC from other properties in the area. “Siemens has been proactive in putting forth cutting-edge technologies for commercial office spaces. And as things move more into the Internet of Things space, HVAC and indoor air quality initiatives will become even more important. Our partnership with Siemens means we can continue to lead in this area,” Giese concludes.