Hudson Building

Richard Mitchell, Managing Principal at Mackenzie, a Portland, Oregon based architecture, engineering, design, and planning company, shares his firm’s real-world story of how Green Globes SI certification meant much more than an outstanding award of Four Green Globes. Going through the process actually saved Mackenzie money.

Mackenzie’s Vancouver office started out as a simple pilot program project under Green Globes for Sustainable Interiors. The team thought that they’d achieve Two Green Globes by following some fairly straightforward best practices. “As we got into it however, we were really focused on performance-driven strategies,” Mitchell recalls. “Basically, if we were going to pursue some Green Globes criteria that pushed us in any way, it had to make sense financially… had to demonstrate a return on investment.”

Mackenzie’s team quickly moved beyond the basics and into more advanced strategies in HVAC controls, energy-efficient lighting, and energy-use sensors. They were well on their way to an energy-efficient tenant improvement and heading into Three Green Globe territory. “But we weren’t done. Because the certification process really challenges you to push a little harder, we asked ourselves, ‘How can we get to Four Green Globes?’ That answer came in the form of adding a sub-meter for our suite’s electrical use.”

Beyond Standard Practices

A sub-meter, however, offered two big challenges.

1. The cost to add a sub meter was $10,000.
2. Other than providing information on energy use, it was not going to produce an ROI unless Mackenzie could negotiate with the landlord to drop the building-standard practice of billing each tenant a proportionate basis of energy use monthly, and instead use the real data captured by their sub-meter to establish Mackenzie’s energy bill each month.

“The ‘bet’ here was that all of our energy conservation measures would pay-off if we could get our bill to actually reflect our real energy use,” Mitchell recalls. “I called our landlord to explain our situation, and they agreed to use our sub-metered data each month.”

At that point, Mackenzie decided to put the money into a sub-meter even though they could only estimate how it would manifest into a real payback.

Money in the Bank

Fast forward to today, and Mackenzie now has a couple of years of real data. Mackenzie is saving $3,300 annually in energy that it would have been charged without the sub-meter.

“When you consider the $10,000 cost of the sub-meter, we will capture all of that investment this year, which is our third year,” Mitchell says. “The money that we save over the remaining 10 years of our lease will exceed $35,000, above and beyond the cost of the sub-meter.”

Mitchell credits the Green Globes process for the savings. “The bottom line is that without taking the project through certification using Green Globes, we would have never pushed ourselves quite this hard, and we would have lost a real opportunity to gain a strong return on energy savings. Certifying interiors with Green Globes is a smart investment!”