The GPT Group is one of Australia’s largest diversified listed property groups with US$13Bn under management. Their energy transformation achieved outstanding results with GPT rated as number 1 or 2 on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the last seven years, and identified as a Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark leader. GPT reaped financial returns to match: $95M in avoided costs for electricity, gas and water since 2005, all whist increasing the portfolio under management by 35%.
GPT’s story demonstrates the outcomes that can be achieved by taking the information and insights from energy data and employing it to good effect in the field. Their successful strategy was a business imperative led from the top, with supporting policies, systems and processes embedded in all levels of business. This story was covered in detail in a recent Verdantix report, and graphically illustrated in this infographic. What follows is a summary of GPT’s approach.
Strategic actions taken by GPT include:
MANAGE UTILITY EXPENDITURE
Consolidate electricity contracts. With fewer suppliers there is less variability in data structure, billing methods and complicated pricing tariffs. This reduction in complexity reduces overheads, speeding time to actionable insight.
Billing data collected automatically and distributed to sites electronically. Automation is the low-hanging fruit of business optimization strategies. Using technology to collect, collate and distribute data frees staff up to focus on critical thinking and gets information into the hands of those who need it faster.
Ongoing bill checking via a service provider. For organizations managing large portfolios, invoice verification and validation can be overwhelming, yet there are opportunities for energy optimization and savings. Service providers supported by sophisticated data management engines such as Envizi can deliver outcomes faster and more cost effectively than internal teams.
IMPROVE OPERATIONS MANAGEMENT
Installed sub-metering systems to provide detailed energy information. Sub-metering is associated with high installation and maintenance costs, but the benefits of accessing real-time, asset and functional-level data make the investment worthwhile. Advances in technology are also opening up alternatives to sub metering. Envizi’s SoftMeter technology produces granular, equipment level data without the need for sub metering.
Site teams trained to monitor performance and calibrate systems for optimal efficiency. Engagement and empowerment of site-based teams is essential. As technology evolves, upskilling staff to enable them to combine their existing knowledge and expertise with new insights and ways of doing things will multiply returns.
Operations management and contractors receive frequent performance reports at asset and portfolio level. Data alone will not deliver outcomes. Engaging teams and providing them with regular feedback has been an essential factor in GPT’s energy management successes. Regular reports on the impact of changes is essential to verify the validity of actions.
IMPLEMENT EFFICIENCY TECHNOLOGIES
Using passive forms of energy and natural ventilation including adjustable shades – by taking advantage of favorable physical site conditions whenever possible. GPT have delivered energy savings in both existing and new building stock.
Using energy-efficient appliances in new developments and upgrading existing sites – whilst this may be considered a hygiene topic, the reality is that many organizations overlook this opportunity or do not provide enough focus to ensure it remains a business priority. Consumer studies show that buyers have an irrational bias against high upfront costs even when they are aware of that the cost of the product will be cheaper in the long run, and that building owners tend to under-use rebates and incentives that would make purchasing more-efficient appliances more affordable. And even when they buy these appliances, they are failing to set the controls in ways that let them capture the full energy-saving potential.
Optimizing existing equipment and introducing new control systems – this could also be considered a hygiene issue but, like most initiatives, sustained results are contingent on a consistent focus and access to data driven reports to measure outcomes.
DEPLOY GENERATION INFRASTRUCTURE
Only when GPT have achieved emissions and energy savings do they consider additional generation infrastructure. Technologies they have adopted include solar PV, gas cogeneration and trigeneration, coupled with the purchase of green energy from renewable sources.
Each individual action has been part of a considered, well supported company-wide commitment to an energy management transformation and the outcomes and the results continue to be delivered.