Plugging into Multifamily - The Official Blog of AUM

Multi-Housing News - Making Your Mark

Posted by Alison Hoss on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 @ 03:47 PM

Multi-Housing News (MHN) recently reached out to AUM's Dimitri Kapsis for insight regarding benchmarking in our industry. 

Below you will find the article where Kaspis speaks on behalf of AUM and sheds a light onto AUM's experience with benchmarking in multifamily.


Making Your Mark

By Joshua Ayers, Senior Editor - Published November, 10 2014

Most operational tasks at multifamily communities strive to maximize efficiency in order to increase the bottom line. The web-based revolution in the past 10 to 15 years has helped these businesses to streamline their operations and as that technology evolves, companies are taking a closer look at, and improving, the ways they are spending money on property utilities through benchmarking.

So what is benchmarking? Putting it simply, benchmarking is the process of taking an entity’s specific set of metrics and measuring or comparing those metrics to the metrics of another entity or the average of metrics of other similar entities. In multifamily—and commercial and industrial buildings as well—an example would be taking the total use of electricity at one building and comparing that usage against other similar buildings, or the average usage of multiple buildings that are similar in stature.

While this might sound relatively simple, there are several factors that make utility benchmarking at multifamily communities and buildings more difficult than their commercial and industrial counterparts, including sub-metering, resident privacy and the willingness of utility companies to cooperate with requests for accurate data. Having the right tools, finding the right benchmarking vendor and being aware of local, state and federal benchmarking efforts can all help companies to build a benchmarking strategy that will help reduce utility costs and increase NOI.

A few vendors and tools

In order to effectively benchmark utilities, a company needs nothing more than a method of collecting, analyzing and storing the data, as well as a way to determine how other similar multifamily properties are consuming in order to track results. An initial gut response might include opening up Microsoft Excel or signing into Google Drive, but, unfortunately, the labor costs for tedious manual data entry for benchmarking would likely outweigh any savings that could be had, and there would be no guarantee that the data could be appropriately analyzed.

“This can be done in spreadsheets, but it is time consuming and tedious, and the analysis required to do it accurately is not as simple as adding up utility bills,” says benchmarking guru Jonathan Braman, vice president of the New York-based benchmarking company BrightPower. “For example, in climates with a lot of heating or cooling needs, building energy consumption varies a lot based on how hot the summer [is] or cold the winter is. If I installed a new efficient boiler before last winter’s polar vortex, I still probably used more gas than the previous winter. I may have used less than I would have with the boiler—but utility bills alone won’t show that.”

BrightPower is just one of many benchmarking companies that have emerged in the multifamily industry. One tool that the company offers its clients is its EnergyScoreCards platform, which automatically fetches data from most large utilities, and then “provides weather-normalized benchmarks at the building, property and portfolio levels,” he notes.

Braman says that the use of EnergyScoreCards has helped long-term clients decrease utility spending since they started using the project, but he also notes that the benchmarking alone isn’t necessarily a cause for energy saving.

That combined with working with BrightPower analysts can help companies sort through the data. If consumption problems are evident, BrightPower engineers and procurement experts help clients work through the problem.

“Benchmarking only helps owners make better decisions and take action to save energy,” he says. “We think of benchmarking as a critical component of energy management, but it must be combined with smart operations and maintenance, behavioral changes, and in some cases, capital improvements, to save energy.”

Another major player in the benchmarking industry is American Utility Management (AUM) Inc., which has been providing energy management solutions to the multifamily industry since 1994.

AUM Chief Energy Officer Dimitris Kapsis says that the most important tool for benchmarking is good data.

“The most essential tools for benchmarking is the availability of the actual comparative data, its integrity and overall size of the comparative group,” he says.

AUM’s primary benchmarking tool, SCORE, utilizes data captured from a state-of-the-art data capture process that checks the data’s integrity, and then provides benchmarking that takes into account geographic region, property type and other property characteristics and their overall utility usage to rate a property’s energy efficiency again similar peer groups.

Kapsis stresses the importance of the data integrity checks, since manual data entry can be flawed, as can data that comes directly from the utility companies.

“It could be a situation where we have some data entry issues such as fat fingering, or we even have data issues coming from the utility, because unlike the popular consensus, utilities make mistakes and sometimes [they] make big mistakes,” he says.

Once the data is validated and entered into the system, AUM’s system monitors the data for anything that is out of trend, including utility usage.”

“It’s pretty straight forward. We put some variances in place up or down, and if they break through those barriers that we manually set into the system then the system notifies us,” he says. “We look into it as to if it’s a legit variance. If it is, we let it go through the system and the client receives a notification. From there, either themselves or with our help, we can work on fixing the issue.”

Kapsis referenced an AUM Energy Management client with a portfolio of more than 100 properties that was able to identify conservation opportunities through benchmarking efforts that led to $400,000 in annual savings with a ROI in just 13 months.

NWP, which offers benchmarking through its analytics portfolio, offers a product called ScoreCard, which allows clients to rank a property within a portfolio to see how it is doing against its peers.

ScoreCard also takes into account factors such as weather normalization, and benchmarks several utilities both individually and combined.

“You can look at gas, electric and then a combined gas and electric,” says Chris Dorando, product manager for NWP’s Utility Smart product line. “So for instance, if you’re a property that has electric heating and you want to know how that property is performing against other properties in the area that have gas heating, we normalize that so that you can actually make a comparison.”

NWP also works with clients that use the EPA Energy Star Portfolio Manager, which anonymously tracks whole-building energy and water consumption data that can be used for benchmarking.

All three energy management and consulting companies, BrightPower, AUM and NWP, are service and product provider (SSP) partners through the Energy Star Portfolio Manager program. According to Energy Star, SSP partners “have demonstrated their expertise and achievements by meeting strict Energy Star program requirements for benchmarking customer buildings using Portfolio Manager and gaining Energy Star certification for buildings.”

Challenges and the future

Utility benchmarking has been around since the 1990s, but was primarily restricted to more commercial buildings, where whole-building consumption data is easier to acquire and track.

Even though an assortment of industry suppliers have assisted EPA in creating and improving the Portfolio Manager, whole-building data remains one of the biggest challenges for multifamily due to property complexity and the various types of metering structures set up at those properties.

“The main difference between the rest of the industry and multifamily, especially when we’re talking about commercial or retail, is that each individual unit-—an individual unit could be a retail shop or an entire office building—tends to have central metering for electric, gas and water. So, when we capture the data, we know what the entire unit is using on a per-month, quarterly and annual basis.”

This type of cumulative data makes a platform like Portfolio Manager easy to use and compare to other similar properties by type and region.

With multifamily, however, properties can range from garden-style, to high-rise buildings and beyond, with each of those different types of buildings. Utilities across the spectrum can be measured across the entire property, such as water, which tends to be measured by whole-building, combined with utilities such as gas and electric, that are measured in either entire building or individual apartments or somewhere in between.

“To be able to compare apples to apples for a particular property, it’s not just location and type of property, it’s also what type of metering they have in place. And, not just for one type of utility, it could have a diversity of metering types depending on what utility you’re looking at … that was the difficulty that the EPA had up until recently and they still do.”

Currently, whole building data can only be acquired from utilities that have willingly agreed to provide the information in good faith or that have been mandated by
cities to provide the information, with the first option being subject to a variety of
data discrepancies.

“Benchmarking laws in several cities have also helped owners and vendors to improve the process and greatly expand the number of properties benchmarking,” BrightPower’s Braman says.

Kapsis, who notes that owners are gravitating toward individual metering for gas and electric as residents demand more control over factors like individual unit climate settings and knowing their own utility usage, is in agreement that the availability of whole-building data will help with benchmarking.

“As a result of those mandates, we will be able to capture whole-building data,” he says.

Dorando believes that the mandate trend is not going to fade away anytime soon.

“As those urban areas like Seattle and New York and Washington D.C. [and] Chicago start to roll out, I think you’ll start to see a lot more of that happen across the country,” he says. “Other communities will start to follow that. It’s something that’s going to be happening, and it’s something that we help our clients with. It’s pretty cutting edge at this time. I think it’s going to be a valuable tool for the property owners because they’ll be able to really improve their properties.”

As this whole-building data becomes more accessible to vendors and their clients, more research and evidence on the effectiveness of benchmarking will become available to owners and operators.

“People used to say, rightly at the time, that there were no good databases of multifamily energy and water use data, so no one knew what was good or bad,” Braman says. “Now we know.”

Tags: Energy management, Multifamily, Utilities, Submetering, ENERGY STAR, Benchmarking, Data analysis, Data capture

AUM - Technology Choice Award Winner for 2014

Posted by Alison Hoss on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 @ 01:29 PM

Multi-Housing News Taps American Utility Management as Technology Choice Award Winner for 2014

National multifamily publication award chosen by over 25,000 industry executives representing over 5,000 organizations.

Lombard, IL –(September 28, 2014) – Multi-Housing News (MHN), an industry-leading national publication for Multifamily, has awarded American Utility Management, Inc. (AUM) a 2014 MHN Technology Award for utility management.  The MHN Technology Awards, voted on by industry users, recognizes companies who provide flexible customization, competitive pricing, and the most innovative solutions, all backed by superior customer support.

“AUM is honored to receive this award from Multi-Housing News,” says Joe Stackhouse, AUM President and Chief Operating Officer.  “Since 1994, our sole focus has been to help Multifamily property owners maximize NOI through expert energy and utility management.  For them, transforming energy expense data into actionable information is the difference between profit and loss.  Our Performance Dashboards and Ad Hoc Reporting Tools on the AUM Advanced Analytics platform reduce millions of data points into simple visuals, allowing our clients to make critical decisions quickly for competitive advantage. We affect properties’ NOI every day in a very real way.”


Tags: Energy management, Multifamily, Utilities, Energy Efficiency, performance Dashboards

Utilities are Installing Smart Meters; But Who Owns the Data?

Posted by Alison Hoss on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 @ 11:16 AM


Over the past few months, we’ve all been inundated with reports on the new Apple iPhone 6 release and all of the new features it has to offer.  It got me to think about all the data that travels through the air, across phone lines and over the internet; and about all the new devices that are being used to gather and send all the data.   The Internet of Everything (IoE) phenomenon, which is the next big wave of how people and things connect to the internet, is growing exponentially.  IoE applications (often Machine-2-Machine applications) include: smart meters, video surveillance, smart cars, package tracking chips, chipped pets and livestock, and digital health monitors.  Today, there are over 2.9 Billion M2M connections and they are projected to grow to 7.3B by 2018. 

But what about the business aspect of all these new devices and resulting data: 

1)    Who Owns the Data? 

2)    Who has Rights to transform the data into valued information?

In the utility world, these are hot topics.  Recently in Chicago, ComEd installed 425,000 smart meters as part of its $2.6B grid-modernization project; that number of smart meters is planned to grow to over 4 million meters.  The list of companies wanting access to the data is almost as long as the number of meters themselves, but no data is flowing.  No one is able to see the benefits of energy efficiency as a result of the new energy information gathered via the smart meters.  Why?  Because regulators are still determining who owns the data (the utility or the customer) and how data is to be released in order to comply with privacy laws.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has established  the “Green Button” as the standard for smart meter data access by customers.  Green Button is a good start.  However, the local utility is the only one who presents the energy data to the customer and only in the format or manner that the utility chooses.  In order to enable the markets to develop products and services around smart meter data, rules must be established to enable easier access to the data for enterprising business as well as property managers like you.

At AUM, we are fortunate to gather all of the utility data from your invoices as a part of our invoice processing service.  On the AUM Advanced Analytics Platform, clients get instant access to their information via a myriad of on-line reports, a first-glance Performance Dashboard with data drill-down capabilities, and other self-serve Ad Hoc Reporting Tools.  

But the next generation of data coming from smart meters has yet to be made easily available to customers and energy solution providers.  AUM’s question to you is:  How should AUM advocate on your behalf to ensure the data is most accessible to you?  What is the best solution to gather your residents’ utility data?  Do you want to access your residents’ usage data in order to help them become more efficient (and enable your properties to become more energy efficient)?


Tags: Energy procurement, Multifamily, Utilities, Submetering, utility expense recovery, Energy Efficiency, Data analysis, Data collection, Data capture, energy expenses, analytics

AUM Energy Market Outlook - March 2013

Posted by Dimitris Kapsis on Mon, Mar 04, 2013 @ 11:58 AM

Natural Gas Storage and Usage

Natural Gas Energy OutlookSince our February market outlook, weather over much of the Northeast and Midwest has provided many challenges for the natural gas market due to colder temperatures and the resultant increased demand for heat. On Thursday, Feb. 28 the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a natural gas withdrawal from natural gas storage of 171 Bcf, meeting analysts’ expectations. There is currently 2.29Tcf of natural gas in storage which is 308 Bcf above the five year average figure. This current storage volume is still riding the upper range of the five year average trend (the blue line in the graph below). If current weather forecasts hold for the remainder of the winter, we should exit the heating season with natural gas storage volumes exceeding the five year average range.

march Storage Numbers

Temperature Outlook 

Despite the cold temperatures witnessed by most of the country during February, temperature forecasts for March continue to show that most of the country will witness above normal temperatures. The latest forecasts for April by NOAA reflect above-normal temperatures.

 Temperature Outlook

    Courtesy EarthSat


Natural Gas Production and Pricing

The latest natural gas production data posted by EIA showed December natural gas production to decrease 1.1% compared to November’s record-high production of at 73.53 Bcf per day (lower-48 revised). Even with the decrease, December’s production is approximately 1% higher than December 2011. Considering record-level production and  storage projected to end the withdrawal season above 2 Tcf, pricing will continue to experience downward pressure.

On Tuesday,February 26, the March 2013 natural gas contract settled at $3.427 per MMBtu.

March Gas Settle 


Bottom Line   

Natural gas market pricing will continue to remain under constant pressure as long as the forecasts for near term temperatures remain on the warmer side and storage numbers stay above the five year average line. The highest contract price for this winter season was posted for the December 2012 settle at $3.70 per MMBtu.

With the March 2013 contract already settled, the pricing cycle for 2012-2013 heating season is complete. Traders are now looking for April and beyond, trying to decipher demand notes for the upcoming cooling season. With expected natural gas storage numbers and consistent production, the stage is set for a possible price collapse and an excellent buying opportunity for supply contracts in the beginning of the second quarter.

Tags: Energy management, Energy procurement, Pricing, Energy rates, Utility rate schedules, US Energy Group, Multifamily, Utilities, Heating, Historical utility costs, Energy market

MARKET ALERT - DC Sets April 1 Deadline for Energy Benchmarking

Posted by James Kenneally on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 @ 02:22 PM

Washington DC ArialDistrict of Columbia publishes final regulations requiring all large private buildings benchmark their energy and water performance annually.


On January 18, 2013, the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) published the final rulemaking for energy benchmarking of private buildings in the D.C. Register (60 DCR 367). This final rule-making puts into execution the District of Columbia Green Building Act (GBA) of 2006, as amended by the Clean and Affordable Energy Act of 2008, requires owners of large buildings in the District to benchmark the energy and water performance of their buildings using US Environmental Protection Agency's Portoflio Manager tool. These laws and pursuant regulations were passed to promote widespread understanding of energy and water use in the District, and to promote resource conservation.

Deadlines for reporting energy and water usage are as follows:

Building Deadline requirements

Do You Need to Comply?

The District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) has established a help center to answer basic questions regarding your requirements for benchmarking and disclosure.  The Most Frequently Asked Questions can be viewed here. The Penalty for non-compliance of this legislation is $100 a day.

As a Multifamily property owner, the whole building square footage is to be taken into consideration when determining whether or not you need to comply, but you only need to report common area utility usage data.

In addition, DDOE has developed several guidance documents, with technical details on what needs to be reported and how, including forms for requesting utility data, and instructions for the adjustments being made to the program for its initial year. The set of guidance documents also include several optional forms for requesting tenant that building owners and managers may find useful.

As your energy management partner, AUM offers expert execution on ensuring your data is properly loaded into EPA's Portfolio Manager and you have successfully reported your information to the DDOE. 

AUM is an EPA Energy Star partner, and is uniquely positioned to ensure your compliance with these guidelines.  Contact us below to find out how we can walk you through the maze of the Washington, DC Guidelines.

Information on Washington, DC Benchmarking and Disclosure Compliance

Tags: Energy consumption, Multifamily, Utilities, Sustainability and Benchmarking, Energy Efficiency, Legislation, EPA Portfolio Manager, ENERGY STAR, Benchmarking, D.C. Green Building Act, Property characteristic survey

MARKET ALERT - Low Supply Causing Rise in Energy Prices in Northeast

Posted by James Kenneally on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 @ 01:03 PM

describe the imageThe Energy Information Administration noted on Friday a volatile winter for energy prices in the New England region.

The Report:

From Fox Business News: The Energy Information Administration (EIA), said that since November, average spot-market natural gas prices have been the highest in the US.  Prices have posted premiums of $2 to $3 per million British thermal units (mBtu's) above the national benchmark.

A steady decline in gas supplies and lack of space on pipelines from the west and south, add to challenge in getting supply to the region, the EIA said. Natural Gas supply from Sable, Nova Scotia (a prime supplier to the northeast US natural gas market) is at "a fraction of its levels in previous years." Output was about 30% below the average in the first nine months of 2012, the EIA said.

The start of Encana Corp.'s Deep Panuke offshore natural-gas project, which could have offset some lost Sable supply, has been delayed from early 2013 to possibly midyear, the EIA said. Additionally, stronger demand in Canada also has limited available supply from Sable.

Because of a lack of local storage facilities, high-season demand, and a lack of locally produced gas along with remoteness from the rest of the North American gas-transmission grid, New England has historically relied strongly on Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) imports, including supply from Trinidad and Tobago and Yemen. Since November 2010, 25% of New England's daily gas demand has been met by LNG, and it has spiked to as high as 60% in winter.
The supply snags come as natural gas for power use is rising in New England. The EIA said gas use for power generation in the region was up 3% from a year earlier in the first 10 months of 2012.

Here is the complete Fox Business News Report.


Supply strain will be relieved through shale gas production and easing weather conditions. – Dimitris Kapsis, Executive Vice President and Chief Energy Officer, AUM

Natural gas production through conventional vertical rigs has decreased substantially over the last couple of years while production from horizontal rigs (shale gas) has in turn increased substantially.   Overall production of natural gas has decreased approximately 1% year over year while the natural gas storage numbers are still on the high end compared to the five year average.  The recent cold spell that is engulfing the Midwest and eventually the East will exercise some upward price pressure but if NOAA’s forecast for February and March calling for warmer than normal temperatures holds true we will exit the heating season with record high natural gas storage numbers.  The upcoming spring season might experience another buying opportunity for natural gas and electric commodity.
New England is a volatile market when it comes to natural gas and electricity because it is the last major market in the supply lines of natural gas originating from Henry Hub in Louisiana.  New England and especially the surrounding areas of Boston do not use diesel fuel for heating as much as their counterparts in NYC and DC so capacity issues in the Boston market especially during peak hours are substantial.  With the lower pricing of natural gas over the last few years and especially 2012 many electric generators have switched to natural gas as their fuel of choice creating additional constraints on the supply grid.  The close proximity of shale gas production in PA and NY provide an opportunity for the New England market for additional sources of natural gas delivery.  
Overall natural gas pricing at current low levels is not sustainable for the long term, eventually the laws of supply and demand will kick in and stabilize the market at a level acceptable by both producers and buyers.  What we do not see is pricing reaching the high levels of 2007-2008 where natural gas pricing reached $1.50 per therm.

You can protect yourself from market volatility with AUM Energy Procurement Services

AUM Energy Procurement Services evaluates your potential for reducing expense by purchasing natural gas and/or electricity through a deregulated supplier. This is part of AUM’s comprehensive suite of Energy Management Services designed specifically with multifamily in mind. In 2012, AUM was able to save Multifamily customers over $2.5 million in energy costs through its Procurement Services with an increase in portfolio property values of over $35 Million.

Find Out How

Tags: Energy cost, Utility expense Management, Energy management, Energy procurement, Market alert, Energy rates, Utilities, Energy market, Case study, Electricity, Fossil fuels

Future of Multifamily Energy Benchmarking Discussed in IMT Report

Posted by Michael Miller on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 @ 01:19 PM

Benchamrking your property's energy efficiency.The Institute for Market Transformation(IMT), a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization promoting energy efficiency, green building and environmental protection in the United States and abroad, recently issued a report, Energy Transparency in the Multifamily Housing Sector.  The report provides a comprehensive look at energy benchmarking policies and their stakeholders.  Energy benchmarking has been a rising topic in the multifamily housing industry since President Obama's Better Buildings Initiative in February, 2011.

Click here for the Report: Energy Transparency in  the Multifamily Housing Sector

EPACurrently Seattle, Austin, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, as well as California and Washington have enacted policies for disclosing energy benchmarking information.  These disclosure policies are meant to accomplish energy efficiency initiatives set by state and local governments. But they may also prove to be beneficial to multifamily property owners.  The multifamily housing industry spends approximately $22 billion in energy annually, and with multifamily buildings constructed before building energy codes were put in place, there are many opportunities for energy-efficiency improvements.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and CNT Energy noted that cutting electricity usage by 15 percent and gas usage by 30 percent would result in $3.3 billion in utility bill savings annually.   Since 2000, energy costs have increased by 20 percent, which has resulted in decreased affordability for renters.  The rise in energy costs has affected property owners and renters throughout the multifamily housing industry.  Property owners must look for ways to improve their property’s energy efficiency and cut their energy costs.

Benchmarking is an innovative way for property owners to identify energy performance compared to other properties of the same characteristics.  Through energy benchmarking, property owners are able to capture energy consumption data in order to find ways to cut energy usage and reduce expenses.  

Benefits to Benchmarking and Disclosure

The IMT Report notes that, from an overall market perspective, cutting energy costs can increase cash flow and increase competition in the marketplace.  The report states that energy-efficient properties have higher occupancy levels along with higher leasing and sales prices. In cities that are requiring benchmarking and disclosure, Properties must be able to present a Statement of Energy Performance (SEP), in which prospective renters may use for comparison purposes.  In these cities, property managers must be able to explain the rating and potentially explain a difference in an SEP compared to another property to entice the renter. (See:  Understanding your SEP -March 8, 2012).

Many property owners have cited the expense in capital costs necessary to make their properties more energy efficient.  The Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies issued a report, America's Rental Housing, Meeting Challenges, Building on Opportunities, in April 2011, noted that the median age of an apartment community was 36 years, and many buildings were constructed before modern energy codes were adopted.  Additionally, existing incentive and rebate programs often overlook multifamily.  But the attitude of financing is changing.  Banks are now seeing benefits for lending for energy efficiency purposes, and property owners can now receive the necessary capital to start energy efficiency initiatives that will increase their property’s value and attract tenants who would spend less on their utility bills.  

Why is multifamily benchmarking so difficult and how is AUM Helping?

As early as our blog in February 2011, we have written that the barriers to energy for multifamily benchmarking are difficult. First, diversity and fragmentation of building type make the design of a common benchmark a very complex undertaking. How can you compare a New York City high-rise to a Florida garden-style apartment property?  Secondly, cities and states are not uniform on how to categorize multifamily. Is the building a commercial space or is it residential?  It is a unique mix of both.

Creating a benchmark is a function of the assets of the property – the property characteristics data, and its energy usage – usage data. AUM has worked in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a standard Data Taxonomy to gather property characteristics in a uniform, meaningful way. (Read our Data Taxonomy White Paper).
Where multifamily is hampered in its efforts to be more energy efficient, and therefore more operationally efficient, is the permission to gather effective usage data. In many instances, multifamily owners cannot legally access the utility bills of the residents due to tenant privacy laws. Without the correct energy usage data, decision-makers lack the data needed to effectively measure energy efficiency initiatives.

Benchmarking for Energy Performance – Fad or Future?

The difficulties in groundbreaking legislation in New York City and Austin have caused evolution to overcome barriers such as access to residential energy usage in Seattle. Additionally, Environmental Protection Agency’s work to gather sufficient data for a true multifamily energy benchmark has been a focus for over a year, and they are now performing data testing to determine appropriate benchmarks. Expectations are the Environmental Protection Agency will have a multifamily benchmark toward the end of 2013.

This benchmark, combined with current cities legislative efforts, mean that multifamily will be included in legislation in more and more cities as the future unfolds. As the premier energy management partner to multifamily, AUM will ensure that our clients are prepared for the future, with the ability benchmark in accordance with mandates, and reap the benefits of increased property values due to increased energy efficiency.

Tags: Utility expense Management, Energy budgeting, Utilities, Sustainability and Benchmarking, Capital expense, Energy Efficiency, EPA Portfolio Manager, ENERGY STAR, Benchmarking, D.C. Green Building Act, White paper, EPA, MacArthur Foundation, AUMScore, Better Buildings Initiative, New York City, New York Greener Greater Buildings Plan, Energy audit, NYC Local Law 84, Environmental Protection Agency, IMT

Finding $575,000 on Just Three Properties: Why You Need a Multifamily Energy Management Expert

Posted by Michael Miller on Fri, Aug 24, 2012 @ 02:20 PM

Blogpic1 resized 600

I have written numerous times in this blog about the need for focus and knowledge in multifamily utility and energy management. On many occasions, this has centered on the collection and interpretation of data for increasing your Net Operating Income (NOI).

NOI is the residual that is left after you take the operating income (rents, laundry money, fees) and subtract out the operating expenses (taxes, insurance, maintenance, management, etc.).


There are only two ways to increase the NOI:

  1. Raise the overall income by raising rents, fees, etc.
  2. Lower expenses

Our clients expect us to lower their energy expenses to increase NOI. We do that through three different disciplines: allocating the proper expense to the residents that are using energy and utilities (AUM Resident Services), accounting and paying that expense appropriately and timely (AUM Invoice Processing Services), and monitoring the rate and usage (AUM Energy Management Services).

Managing multifamily energy and utility expenses is complicated. Each of the 50 states in the US treat multifamily differently, including whether the rates are regulated or deregulated. Tax treatments alone for multifamily are considerably cumbersome.

Can your operations capture the maximum NOI by understanding and applying all of the particular state nuances around energy and utilities?  AUM can, and we have.

AUM was commissioned by one of our clients to conduct analysis on rates and tax treatments for just three of their Texas properties. Multifamily in Texas is considered mixed use, and utilities cannot charge sales tax for residential energy and utility usage (Here is the tax code for your reference). Additionally, rates are deregulated for electricity and natural gas in the state (Here is a complete list of state deregulation for you too).

We conducted a detailed review and analysis of all of the utility accounts for tax exemption eligibility and historical utility costs and consumption. The results of the review on just three properties were unbelievable:

    •  $185,000 in tax refunds/credits
    • $46,000 in future annual tax savings
    • $332,000 in annual commodity savings through more advantageous rates
That's a total overall savings for just three properties of over $575,000!

There are many companies that tout expertise. At AUM, our expertise is in creating increased value for our partners every day. We welcome the opportunity to increase the value of your properties. If you want to learn how, drop me a line, we’d be happy to talk.

Tags: Energy cost, Utility expense Management, Energy management, Energy consumption, Utilities, Utility bills, Case study, Legislation, Data analysis

Nomar Garciaparra, Mia Hamm, and Burt Jacobs of Life is Good to Headline Day 2 at NAA

Posted by Dave Carpenter on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 @ 02:44 PM


Welcome to day two of the National Apartment Association Education Conference and Expo (Twitter:  #NAAEduConf)here in beautiful Bean-town!

Today's conference has a great lineup of speakers!  Nomar Garciaparra, the famed shortstop of the Boston Red Sox, and his wife, USA Women's Soccer trailblazer and the greatest women's soccer player of all time, Mia Hamm, are set to speak at the General Session at 2:30 PM.

In the morning, Life is Good Co-Founder and Chief Executive Optimist Burt Jacobs is speaking on the power of Optimism and where is can take you in life.

The action in Booth 761 for American Utility Management (Twitter: @AUM_Chicago) has been impressive.  If you are at the show, stop by for a Sam Adams Beer and insights on multifamily energy management!

Tags: Utility expense Management, Energy management, Energy consumption, Multifamily, Utilities, Cost cutting, Bill Processing, Resident Billing, Energy services, Sustainability and Benchmarking, Benchmarking, AUMScore, Boston, Business Intelligence, NAA, Press coverage, NAA Education Conference & Exposition

Emmy Winner Tom Brokaw of NBC News Headlines Day One of NAA in Boston!

Posted by James Kenneally on Thu, Jun 28, 2012 @ 02:52 PM


Tom Brokaw, Special Correspondent to NBC News and one of the most trusted and respected figures in broadcast journalism, gave a thought-provoking narrative and insights from more than 40 years of firsthand experiences talking to everyone from world leaders to average citizens in the midst of life-changing events.

Key to his talk was the Country's treatment of Military as our fighting men and women come back to the US after a Tour of Duty.  As they return, we as a Country need to improve out integration of military back into modern society.  At every airport in the United Sates, we should be greeting, hugging, and helping to re-acclimate our brothers and sisters back into society and the workplace.

US Armed Forces make up 1% of the overall US population, yet they have the highest suicide rates, divorce rates, and unemployment rates as a single population group.  He has started a Foundation to help put a dent into these problems.

American Utility Management would also like to congratulate and Acknowledge 2012 NAA Hall of Fame Inductees Tom Shuler, CAPS, of Berkshire Property Advisors and Jerry Warshaw, CAPS, CPM, of Warshaw Properties, Inc.  Congratulations Gentlemen!!!

Tags: Utility expense Management, Energy management, Energy consumption, Multifamily, Utilities, Utility bills, Cost cutting, Bill Processing, Resident Billing, Sustainability and Benchmarking, Energy Efficiency, EPA Portfolio Manager, Benchmarking, Data analysis, Business Intelligence, NAA, Press coverage, NAA Education Conference & Exposition, Press releases