The Nova Energy Group assists real estate investors in evaluating energy efficiency measures and reducing utility costs. Drawing on extensive experience in real estate development and energy consulting, the Nova Energy Group team specializes in translating the energy performance of buildings into financial terms. This analysis gives Nova clients greater control over their utility expenses, helping to reduce financial risk in an unpredictable energy market.
Nova offers nine years of experience in the energy efficiency field, particularly in the multifamily market. It provides non-database-driven, custom energy audit reports that allow for “outside the box,” site-specific solutions based on dialogue with clients.
The professional staff at Nova hold the following certifications:
Building Performance Institute (BPI) certified Multifamily Analyst
LEED AP BD+C
Association of Energy Engineers: Certified Energy Manager (CEM)
Certified Energy Auditor (CEA)
Certified Measurement & Verification Professional (CMVP)
Nova is one of the primary providers of energy audits for both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac green financing options.
Fannie Mae Green Rewards
Fannie Mae Green Rewards is for property owners interested in investing in energy and water efficiency measures (EWEM) at their multifamily properties. A minimum of 30% savings in energy and water with a minimum of 15% energy savings must be identified. Fannie Mae offers better pricing and will underwrite up to 75% of projected owner-paid projected savings and 25% of tenant-paid projected savings.
Fannie Mae covers the cost of the High Performance Building Report when the loan closes as a Green Rewards.
Nova is Pre-Qualified With Fannie Mae
Nova has achieved pre-qualification with Fannie Mae for completing High Performance Building (HPB) reports as part of the Green Rewards program.
Delegated lenders will no longer have to submit Nova’s HPB reports to Fannie for approval. Lenders will review, score and approve the reports.
Freddie Mac Green Up
Freddie Mae Green Up is for property owners interested in investing in energy and water efficiency measures (EWEM) at their multifamily properties. A minimum of 30% savings in energy and water with a minimum of 15% energy savings must be identified. Freddie Mac offers better pricing and will underwrite up to 50% of projected owner-paid projected savings.
Freddie Mac reimburses the full cost of the Green Assessment Report when the loan closes, regardless of whether the loan closes as a green loan.
All properties need to be benchmarked and receive an ENERGY STAR® score. The utility data provided is also used for all savings estimates.
The Seller/Servicer must provide:
Utility bills or Excel accounting for 12 months of all Owner-paid utilities (electricity, water/sewer, and other fuels)
Utility bills or Excel accounting for a sample of tenant data (if the borrower will be underwriting tenant savings for Fannie Mae)
Energy audits provide investors with a comprehensive understanding of building energy use. The purpose of energy auditing is to understand the opportunities to reduce energy consumption & cost in an occupied multifamily building while increasing tenant comfort, health and safety.
Energy auditing is one tool used in the overall management of energy expenditures of a building. The management of energy expenditures considers four factors:
The energy needed to achieve the building function and maintain occupant comfort
The maintenance and retrofit plan for the building
Reducing the unit cost of purchased energy
Reducing energy consumption
Energy auditing begins by identifying energy end uses and attempts to eliminate end use waste before considering efficiency gains in the primary equipment. The level of detail and the objectives vary between different multifamily energy auditing types. Our firm commonly performs ASHRAE Energy Auditing Levels I, II and III.
The following are ASHRAE‘s description of the four levels of energy audits:
Benchmarking: This first analysis consists in a preliminary whole building energy use analysis based on the analysis of the historic utility use and costs and the comparison of the performances of the buildings to those of similar buildings. This benchmarking of the studied installation allows determining if further analysis is required
Walk-through Energy audit: The Level I energy audit is a walk-through energy audit that identifies low-cost improvement opportunities or obvious areas of energy waste and inefficiency. The analysis includes a visual inspection and study of installed equipment and operating data. Corrective measures are briefly described and quick estimates are included for implementation costs, potential cost savings and payback. The report includes opportunities to prioritize efficiency projects and assess the need for a more detailed energy audit.
Energy Audit Survey and Analysis of Low Hanging Fruit:
The Level 1+ energy audit builds on the Level I and includes more in-depth energy savings calculations that are completed using a combination of spreadsheet calculations and basic modeling. The analysis will include estimated installation costs and cost and consumption savings for low-cost measures such as lighting, water and appliance replacements and others as appropriate. Capital improvements such as envelope, HVAC and domestic hot water improvements will be identified qualitatively as low, medium or high for cost and priority. The report includes sufficient detail to justify project implementation for low-cost opportunities or specific measures or system requested by the client as well as identifying priorities for a more detailed energy audit that targets higher cost improvements.
Energy Audit Survey and Analysis of All Energy and Water Opportunities: The Level 2 energy savings calculations will be completed using rigorous calculations. This analysis will include estimated installation costs and savings for all measures considered, both low-cost and high cost capital improvements. A detailed financial analysis is performed for each measure based on implementation cost estimates, site specific operating costs savings and the customer’s investment criterial. A Level 2 analysis also includes an end-use breakdown for all utilities, including seasonal loads and looks at operational parameters such as occupancy, schedules and service levels (set points, light levels…etc.) for Operations and Maintenance (O&M) improvement options. Sufficient detail is provided to justify project implementation as appropriate for all opportunities identified.
Investment-Grade multifamily energy audit: Detailed Analysis of Capital-Intensive Modifications focusing on potential costly EWEMs requiring rigorous analysis study. This level of analysis can involve advanced on-site measurements and sophisticated computer based simulation tools to evaluate precisely the selected energy retrofits; This level also allows for compounding energy improvements to be analyzed as stand-alone or packaged improvements.
Energy benchmarking is the comparison of a building’s energy consumption against similar buildings while accounting for a variety of factors such as weather, fuel type, building construction, occupancy, etc. This is the first step in determining energy conservation potential of a property as well as the potential to undergo a full investigation by performing an energy audit.
Energy benchmarking provides the owner with a priority list of which buildings are performing well and which are under-performing. The ability to highlight the assets within a real estate portfolio that are poor performers will aid in the proper allocation of a client’s time and money.
The Goals of Energy Benchmarking
To identify opportunities for reducing energy with a low first cost effort
Assess current performance
Prioritize facilities for improvements
Set appropriate goals
Evaluate and Measure progress
Rank facility performance against its peers
By tracking the utility expenses monthly or quarterly, any fluctuations in energy consumption can be quickly identified. Catching water leaks early or discrepancies with your utility budget can account for real savings in a short period of time. We can determine if a previously implemented retrofit to the building is working. Likewise, in a new construction building that was designed with an energy model, we can understand how the building is tracking relative to projected performance.
If Nova catches something unexpected in the utility trending we will immediately bring it to our clients’ attention and will likely have a solution.
Benchmarking with ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®
Developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through ENERGY STAR®, a software tool known as ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® is available to benchmark a variety of building types. Using Portfolio Manager to energy benchmark investment priorities, track energy savings, highlight poor energy performance in buildings are steps toward an ENERGY STAR rating for your building.
An energy benchmarking score of 75 or greater will earn the building a U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR® Label.
Multifamily Buildings Now Eligible to Earn a 1-100 Score from ENERGY STAR®
Multifamily properties can earn a 1-100 score from ENERGY STAR® for both energy and water. If your property receives an energy score of 75 or higher in ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager®, it may be eligible to be certified by ENERGY STAR, signifying that it is among America’s top energy performers.
Being certified with a multifamily ENERGY STAR Certification identifies you as “Green.” Green valuation benefits building owners and investors by reducing operating expenses, attracting better and higher rents, increasing occupancy and increasing resale value.
Nova is an ENERGY STAR Partner. We have benchmarked over 1,000 buildings in Portfolio Manager and know the common pitfalls that make the process difficult for landlords. Hiring Nova to take you through the process ensures it will go quicker, easier and results will be more accurate.
Equity Energy Audits
Building Energy Modeling
Building energy modeling is a powerful tool to assess the energy performance of existing buildings and those to be constructed.
Using a variety of industry standard software tools such as DOE eQuest and PSD’s TREAT®Multifamily and proprietary processes, Nova models the energy performance of existing buildings and those to be built. Building energy modeling is an important tool for developers and investors, enabling them to understand the energy implications of a wide variety of variables including but not limited to wall assemblies, building orientation, or mechanical systems.
Operations and Maintenance Manuals
Operations and maintenance manuals are often an overlooked step in the retrofit and new construction process.
Operations and maintenance training is often developed as part of a broader energy efficiency effort at a building. A site operations and maintenance manual is a custom manual developed by our professionals to document the most efficient means of operating the site’s mechanical systems. In many cases, we have seen building operating efficiency eroded by uninformed operations procedures. This has led us to offer building operations and maintenance manuals. This includes operating diagrams and instructions described in lay terms for your operators.
The Benefits of Operations and Maintenance Manuals
In addition to educating current site operators, another substantial advantage of the building operations and maintenance manuals is institutionalizing site knowledge. This lessens the impact of staff turnover on energy efficiency and is available at any time to staff or service providers. This product is delivered as a hard copy and electronically in Adobe PDF® format on CD. We also offer to make this available as a web-based resource for your building operators and asset managers.
Building Operator Training
Building operator training gives your site maintenance and operations staff the tools they need to operate your investment as cost effectively as possible.
Conducted at your site and on your equipment, building operator training educates maintenance staff to operate your equipment in a safe, energy efficient manner. This education is customized to the equipment in operation at each site, to the skills and concerns of your maintenance staff, and in accordance with your goals as an investor. We often conduct this training as part of a comprehensive strategic energy management plan.
By providing your building staff with a site-specific building operator training, we can develop action plans to minimize expensive contractor service calls. We recommend conducting this training in concert with developing operations and maintenance manuals in order to ensure this information is well documented in the event of turnover in your maintenance staff.
Envelope Commissioning (BECx) is the methodical review of building enclosure systems (walls, roofs and foundations) to ensure the air tightness of the building is below the prescribed maximum rates and that the building’s design and construction meet defined performance expectations.
HVAC Commissioning is the methodical and documented process of evaluating and testing building mechanical systems to ensure that the systems are functioning as intended, in accordance with the owner’s operational needs and with as much energy efficiency as possible.
Commissioning agents are trained to catch over-sized equipment, mis-sized valves/dampers and chillers, unnecessary components, low-quality or clogged filters, and construction debris blocking ventilation. We also look at overridden/stuck VFDs or economizers, specified equipment not installed, improper set points or control sequences, circuitous duct or piping runs, and bad or inaccurate sensors.
The Benefits of HVAC Commissioning
Lower energy consumption
Increased occupant comfort
Lower maintenance costs
More effective risk management
Incentive Program Management
As a qualified partner of multiple incentive programs, Nova’s Strategic Energy Group serves as the energy analyst and project manager on behalf of building owners, accessing funding for up to 50% of project costs.
As your Qualified Program Partner, we optimize the retrofit scope to maximize all available incentives and rebates.
Review the incentive and funding levels for your project
Complete Energy Benchmark and evaluate potential savings
Complete required applications to funding organization
Perform Energy Audit
Develop Energy Conservation Measures and Construction Budget that meets program requirements
Submit findings to funding organization
Assist with contractor selection
Perform contractor oversight and project inspections
Perform final inspection for 100% completion as required by funding organization
Submit inspection reports and incentive request documents
Strategic Energy Planning
Nova offers Strategic Energy Planning and Risk Management to minimize risk and exposure to energy costs over the long term.
Unlike most private real estate investors who must coordinate the goals of multiple investor partners, housing authorities, government entities, universities, and other single-owner groups can develop a strategy to leverage the savings from high yielding energy savings measures to fund subsequent conservation efforts or capital needs. The resulting ‘revolving loan fund’ or cash flow waterfall effect can be used as a financing source over and over again.
All strategies for energy management need to be grounded in reality and hard data. Because of this, we begin our process with the “Discovery Phase”, which consists of investment grade energy auditing and utility bill analysis. We establish a baseline energy use for each building within a portfolio, and then consider the opportunities presented by the portfolio as a whole, and available sources of financing including low interest loans, and state, Federal, and other rebates and incentives.
FIVE YEAR STRATEGIC PLAN
Based on the analysis of the Discovery Phase, we develop the Five Year Strategic Plan. Most projects implement the highest yielding measures in Year One, using the resulting cash flow to fund subsequent improvements or to address non-energy related capital needs.
Because the decision making infrastructure is developed in Year One, the owner has access to these tools throughout the lifecycle of the project. In later years, these tools can guide decisions around capital planning and continued management of energy pricing volatility, and can accommodate changes in financing terms, energy pricing, capital costs, and other variables.
Measurement & Verification
Measurement and Verification provides proof of the effectiveness of energy management. Measurement and verification of utility consumption assists the building owner in evaluating the long-term energy performance of the property. More importantly measurement and verification is key in identifying problems with mechanical systems performance or resident behaviors that are negatively impacting energy performance.
The Benefits of Measurement and Verification
Increase energy savings
Document financial transactions for ESCOs and state or federal incentives
Improve design, operations and maintenance of a facility
Account for variances from expected energy use
Measurement and verification can be used for the following examples:
To assess the performance of a single retrofit
To assess a facility’s total energy use
To determine how a newly constructed building is tracking relative to projected performance
Each month, Nova acquires the utility bills for each meter at each site, normalizes the data for weather and other factors, and evaluates the property’s energy performance against a baseline. The results are reported to ownership on a quarterly basis.
Our measurement and verification services comply with the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP EVO 10000-1:2012). We have a Certified Measurement and Verification Professional (CMVP) on staff. The M&V process is best started prior to the retrofit period but can be done at any time.
Memberships & Partnerships.
Nova Group, GBC (Nova) is an international advising firm providing innovative environmental and engineering services in the areas of risk assessment, investigation, management, compliance and corrective action activities.
Call: +1 855-440-9393