RealWinWin: Brokering Effective Energy-Conservation Solutions
In the emergency room, a triage nurse decides which patients need the most urgent care. Substitute buildings for patients and you get Building TriageTM-a service offered by RealWinWin, Inc. that identifies which buildings and systems are in need of the most immediate energy-saving improvements.
RealWinWin, a Philadelphia-based company, was founded in December 2000 to assist owners and operators of commercial real estate in finding and funding energy-efficiency solutions.
Over the past few years, RealWinWin has expanded its reach. It now brokers ideas, solutions, and funding for energy-conservation measures between corporations, utilities and vendors. Customers include some of the nation’s largest retailers, property management companies, lighting equipment manufacturers and investor-owned utilities.
“We are migrating our business strategy from mostly managing rebate applications for corporations to including the delivery of managed solutions for utilities,” says Doug Bloom, CEO.
Riding the CREST of a Wave
RealWinWin’s first offering to utilities is CREST-Commercial Real Estate Support Team. CREST involves a multi-phased evaluation of a building, targeting, evaluating and delivering energy-efficiency gains by improving the operation of, and at times replacing, the systems within them. CREST is sold to private corporations directly and through utility programs as well.
The first Phase of CREST is what Bloom calls Building Triage, an assessment of the full breadth of energy-saving opportunities in a building. Building Triage involves a proprietary 280-point questionnaire, examination of bills, benchmarking and a three-hour “talk-through” of the building between the building’s engineer and a RealWinWin engineer.
“By understanding the energy profile of a building, we identify both the capital improvements and the low-cost/no-cost potential,” says Bloom. Building Triage also includes an examination of the lease structures and lease commitments in the building. “We understand two of the most important questions in a real estate operator’s mind: Who pays for the savings, and who gets the savings?”
Most notable among RealWinWin’s CREST customers is Xcel Minnesota, the electric utility that serves Minneapolis, St. Paul, and most of Minnesota. Beginning in 2007, RealWinWin is providing a managed program to take 33 giga-watt hours of energy off the grid over three years. This is of interest to any state and utility company, because it can delay or prevent the immense cost of building and operating new energy plants.
Commissioning and Energy-Efficiency Improvement
RealWinWin’s energy-conservation measures fall into two main camps: commissioning and capital improvement. “Commissioning involves tuning, or in most cases ‘re-tuning’, a building to the parameters on which it was originally designed so that the systems run as they are supposed to. This means that energy management equipment is running properly, lights are on and off when they should be, a building is not heating and cooling at the same time, and so on.”
Capital improvement, on the other hand, involves upgrading or replacing energy-consuming systems. “For example, capital improvement could be identifying a chiller system that needs to be upgraded, swapping out older lighting systems for newer systems, upgrading from pneumatic to digital controls, installing building automation systems, tinting the windows, that kind of thing,” Bloom says.
Ben Franklin Provides Key Access
Ben Franklin became involved with RealWinWin in 2005 with a $250,000 investment. In addition to the funding, Bloom says RealWinWin has received “considerable value” from Ben Franklin. “When you become part of the Ben Franklin family, you access a lot of information and gain access to a network that would not be available to you otherwise,” Bloom says. “For example, I’m a member of a Success Team, a group of CEOs from Information Technology product and service companies that meet once a month. It’s great to exchange ideas and listen to other people’s experiences.”
In addition to bringing talent and a fresh perspective to senior-level conversations, Bloom credits the Ben Franklin relationship with expanding the company’s reach into the entrepreneurial community both locally and beyond.
RealWinWin currently employs about 30 people, including part-timers and co-ops. “The company has the potential to grow to maybe 50 employees in Pennsylvania and another 20 to 30 nationwide,” Bloom says. “As our new programs get off the ground, we will need people in several utility jurisdictions across the country.”
Keynotes June, 2007
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