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Let's Talk: Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge and Energy Efficiency

Last year, the buildings in which we work and live used roughly 40% of the energy in the U.S. economy at a cost of over $400 billion. We can make these buildings more energy efficient through a variety of improvements and proven approaches— like new lighting, greater insulation, more efficient heating and cooling, clear information and energy efficiency investment criteria. This means better places to live and work all while creating jobs and building a stronger economy. As a part of President Obama’s Better Buildings Initiative—a nation-wide challenge to make commercial buildings 20% more energy efficient by the year 2020 and accelerate private sector investment in energy efficiency--the City of Atlanta created the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge (ABBC).  In addition to an energy savings commitment of 20%, the ABBC requires a commitment to increase water efficiency by 20% as well.

In 2012, Midtown Alliance signed on as a founding partner of the ABBC, and since then, Midtown has seen much success, as more than 10 million square feet of office, institutional, and residential space have taken the Challenge.  Three Midtown buildings have even already reached the 20% savings goal for energy efficiency: The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 1180 Peachtree, and the Technology Square Research Building. One Atlantic Center has achieved over 20% in water savings. 

What is the key to these Midtown buildings’ successes in energy and water savings?  One remarkable way has been to simply monitor their utilities with Building Management Systems, which can be invaluable in detecting ways to save. One partner of the ABBC, Entic, takes the monitoring system one step further as explained below in a brief interview with the co-founder and COO, Carlos Diaz. 

What does your company, Entic, do?

Entic first helps commercial and industrial facilities determine their central plant’s peak performance through a free plant assessment. We then install our proprietary, cloud-based technology to provide owners and vendor teams the transparency and insight they need to achieve unprecedented performance and economy.

Why focus on chiller plant HVAC optimization?

It’s amazing – central plants and HVAC systems represent about 42% of a building’s energy consumption, but a disproportionate level of attention is focused on other areas, such as lighting. Part of the problem is that people don’t actually know what’s going on with their systems, or they believe that their systems are doing what they’re supposed to do. HVACs are notoriously unpredictable – one month it will cost $12,000 to run and the next it will be $25,000, and the real stickler here is that utilities will charge for the highest amount in a month even if it was for just a day. We provide building energy managers with much more control over how their central HVAC systems are working in order to reach peak performance.

How do you achieve HVAC and central plant peak performance?

It’s all about what we refer to as the Peak Performance Ecosystem – bringing together a building’s requirements, system design, the mechanical and controls team, the building owners, managers and maintenance – all for the common goal of achieving peak performance.

Can you give an example of achieving peak performance?

With the right peak performance strategy and technologies, it is possible to cut central plant energy use by as much as 40 percent. As case in point, one of the nation’s largest public healthcare systems, Broward Health Medical Center (BHMC), registered savings of $311,000 in just one year, including more than $30,000 in a single month. This was possible after implementing advanced analytics and optimization, which provided visibility and transparency into the performance and service of its HVAC system, central plant and 6,000-ton chiller plant.

What does the future hold for HVAC and central plant peak performance? 

We believe the future of central plant optimization will be realized through the development and implementation of smarter and constantly communicating systems. These systems include connecting individual plant components as well as the development of peak performance ecosystem teams tasked with continually improving plant efficiencies. Entic is positioning our solution to provide the common performance measure and language to support this new environment. We will continue to work beside our customers to solve their problems and, hopefully, change some paradigms along the way.

Carlos Diaz is Co-Founder and COO of Entic, a specialist in HVAC and central plant peak performance. Entic provides commercial and industrial facilities with up to 40% energy savings through its proprietary, cloud-based technology. For more information, visit: or contact Carlos Diaz at 954-391-7824 or

Tags: Midtown Alliance, Atlanta, Midtown ATL, Sustainability, Green

Posted: October 7, 2013

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