Energy Management

How A 40-Year-Old Building Cut Its Electric Bill in Half

2 min read

When Pennzoil Place opened in 1975, the two trapezoidal 36-story glass and aluminum towers made a dramatic impact, but such splendor came with a high monthly price tag.

The building was like an enormous aquarium, inviting in the scorching Texas sunlight during the day but failing to properly insulate it from the cold at night. It was becoming increasingly expensive to keep the nearly 40-year-old building cool and well-lit.

The building owners and property-management company, Metropolis Investment Holdings and Transwestern, implemented a series of improvements that ultimately cut the building’s electric bill in half. These improvements included efficiency upgrades, reductions in demand and working with Constellation to voluntarily conserve electricity when prices were high.

Roger Vasquez, director of engineering and property management at Transwestern, the remarkable story in an interview with Business Insider.

“We needed to make the building fall in line with the others in its class, as far as operating costs,” Vasquez said. “And we wanted to get LEED certified, because that shows that you care about these things, and that you’re energy efficient.”

Here’s a look at how they did that.

Efficiency Upgrades

To achieve LEED certification through the U.S. Green Building Council, Pennzoil replaced much of its outdated equipment —including air conditioning units and more than 25,000 old light bulbs and ballasts — with newer technology designed to last longer and use less energy. Becoming LEED Gold certified allowed Pennzoil to attract additional companies, which helped deter the costs of efficiency upgrades.

These upgrades have also allowed the company to realize significant savings. Before the upgrades in 2009, Pennzoil spent approximately $4.3 million on electricity. By 2013, the bill had been reduced to $2.1 million.

Reducing Electricity When Demand is High

Pennzoil found ways to cut back on usage with Constellation’s Peak Response program, which predicts peak hours and notifies the business so it can plan to adjust its usage accordingly. Constellation’s load response team monitors grid consumption and weather to predict peak-setting hours for the year and advise businesses.

It has a proven track record of correctly forecasting these hours, which significantly reduces the 4 Coincident Peak Demand Tag charges that account for approximately 20 percent of a company’s total electric bill.

Reducing Electricity When Prices Spike

Pennzoil also adjusts its usage on a real-time basis with Constellation’s Price Response program, which allows it to voluntarily conserve electricity when prices spike due to temperatures, power plant outages or other unforeseen factors.

Although Pennzoil’s price remains the same, it can take advantage of opportunities to be paid for voluntarily using less power.

For a building as large as Pennzoil Place, strategic efforts to reduce consumption add up to millions of dollars each year. For smaller businesses trying to stretch every dollar, the impact on the bottom line can be even greater. To learn more about how our programs can help your business reach its financial goals while becoming more sustainable, request a quote today.


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