Optimized Energy Use: A Washington, DC Case Study

A provider of commercial real estate (CRE) energy management solutions, MACH Energy is focused on demonstrating that efficiency upgrades for buildings do not have to be costly, invasive, or time-intensive. For property owners and managers, MACH’s cloud-based energy management software platform can provide actionable multi-utility analytics, increase ENERGY STAR scores, and ease daily tasks such as budget reporting and tenant billing. These features, states the firm, are allowing MACH to dismantle the misconception that green buildings have to be designed from the ground-up for optimized energy use.

Regardless of age, size, or occupancy, all commercial buildings can use electricity, water, gas, heat, and steam more efficiently and cost-effectively. MACH’s interface pinpoints and leverages the data that makes this possible: analytic Insights, or energy-use metrics and benchmarking, are processed into practical initiatives, or actionable changes that can be applied to a building’s hour-by-hour, or minute-by-minute, functionality.

The Challenge: Reduce Energy and GHG while Improving ENERGY STAR scores

Based in Washington DC, Carr Services provides property operations services to Carr Properties-owned and third-party owned commercial real estate investment companies. Carr was looking for a portfolio-wide energy management platform that could be used to drive operational changes, reduce energy use and expense, improve ENERGY STAR scores, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and raise awareness about energy conservation across the portfolio.


Building Profile: Floyd D. Akers Building, 1255 23rd Street NW, Washington, DC
Location: West End
Year Built: 1983
Year Renovated: 2009
Number of Floors: 8
Building Size: 337, 983 SF
Average Floor: 40,000 SF
Elevators: 7
Energy Star Score (2008): 78
Energy Star Score (2015): 88
LEED Certification: Gold
HVAC: Central plant chillers and air handler with mix of pneumatic and DDC controlled VAV boxes, with resistance heat in the perimeter DDC VAV boxes

MACH’s Approach To Energy And Operational Savings
Using energy and weather analytics that have been developed and proven over the last decade in millions of square feet of commercial office space, MACH Energy’s CRETech software identified specific issues that needed to be addressed in order to reduce electric usage. An automated analysis and trending tool, the company’s Insights platform identified operating days that demonstrated unusual energy usage from weather adjusted norms. Industry and regional baselines were then used to identify improvement opportunities such as early startup, late shutdown, and cyclic and “spike” oriented equipment operations. Deeper analysis and expert help were also administered from MACH’s Client Services Group to review automated recommendations, to explore strategy alternatives, and to develop specific plans to improve operations.

This attentiveness to catching operational “stray” that leads to energy waste is a key ingredient to high-performing buildings. Using data provided by MACH Energy, Carr was able to make operational changes that resulted in energy reductions and cost savings across the board. These changes included:

  • Earlier building equipment shutdowns 

  • “Coasting” the building as shutdown approached, turning off chillers and letting chilled water set points rise 

  • Using free cooling / economizer settings whenever possible 

  • Walking the building to get to know the tenants and their personalities in order to understand how to adjust zones to avoid hot/cold calls

At 1255 23rd St NW, Carr Services was able to achieve all of the operational improvements initially targeted, even while building occupancy increased by 9%. Over a one-year period, these achievements included: $24,000 in cost savings, 7.6% energy reduction, and a five-point ENERGY STAR score increase.

“As a result of our efforts and MACH Energy’s support, we have been saving hundreds of thousands of dollars for tenants over the years, improving tenant satisfaction and increasing the value of our assets. Now we have our entire portfolio on MACH Energy with strong companywide enthusiasm for the program,” said Richard W. Greninger, Managing Partner, Carr Services.

This ENERGY STAR score improvement placed the property almost 10 points above the average building in DC that year. Since adopting MACH’s energy management solutions, the building has experienced a marked upswing in ENERGY STAR performance and has consistently ranked at least five points above the average DC building. This improvement is clearly visible in the Floyd D. Akers Building’s 10-point jump from a 78 ENERGY STAR score in 2008 to 88 in 2015.

On the whole, Carr Properties realized significant energy and operational savings by using MACH Energy’s on-demand energy information and management CRETechnology. An added benefit was improved forecast and budgeting accuracy that required less administrative time. One example of this type of achieved savings from operational changes was a reduction in midday energy demand during the summer by 250 kW, from 1250 kW to under 1000 kW (see graphs below).

All of these improvements were achieved without costly capital energy projects at the site and consisted solely of changes to operational procedures, operating set points, and building management.


Reductions in peak demand at the Floyd D. Akers Building is shown in these Before (above) and After (below) graphs. Operational changes delivered this reduction in midday energy demand during July 2015—from 1250 kW to under 1000 kW.


Click graphs to enlarge.

Other posts by