Modern Energy Management

The 345 California Center: Energy Management for Skyscrapers

March 17, 2020 Nate Nilles & Amber Artrip Season 1 Episode 15
Modern Energy Management
The 345 California Center: Energy Management for Skyscrapers
Modern Energy Management
The 345 California Center: Energy Management for Skyscrapers
Mar 17, 2020 Season 1 Episode 15
Nate Nilles & Amber Artrip

The 345 California Center is a 48-story office tower in the financial district of San Francisco, California. Completed in 1986, the 211.8 m tower is the fifth tallest in the city. Tim Danz is the Chief Engineer of this skyscraper and joined our show to share how he's implemented Modern Energy Management in this building. 

Questions, Comments, or if you'd like to guest star on the show please email [email protected]

Show Notes Transcript

The 345 California Center is a 48-story office tower in the financial district of San Francisco, California. Completed in 1986, the 211.8 m tower is the fifth tallest in the city. Tim Danz is the Chief Engineer of this skyscraper and joined our show to share how he's implemented Modern Energy Management in this building. 

Questions, Comments, or if you'd like to guest star on the show please email [email protected]

spk_1:   0:00
Hello, everyone. And welcome to the modern energy management podcast. This is the only podcast for energy sustainability and facilities innovators to share their stories of energy best practices in the field with their peers. Today we have a really great episode for you. Our good friend Tim Dance, who is the chief engineer at the California Center, located at 345 California Street in San Francisco, California, is here to talk to us about his modern energy management story. Welcome to the show, Tim.

spk_0:   0:34
It's great to be here, Ember. Thank you.

spk_1:   0:37
So, first off, I want to congratulate you. Ah, you and the folks at the California Center were nominated for a smart energy decision Innovation Award. So congratulations.

spk_0:   0:48
Thank you very much where we're delighted, Believe me, the whole team

spk_1:   0:52
and will you be at the smart Decisions Innovation Summit?

spk_0:   0:57
Unfortunately, I am unable to attend because of ah, conflict on the calendar. But the great news is one of our owners, representatives from Chicago will be in Houston, where we have a property, and Tina will attend and accept the award on behalf of our ownership in the building.

spk_1:   1:20
Oh, good. I'm so glad to hear that we will be there as well. So let's roll right into it. Tim, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the space?

spk_0:   1:31
Sure. Um it has been quite a long career at this point, but if I go back to the very beginning as a younger man, I ah, an internship at the Chrysler Building in Midtown Manhattan. It's ah rather historic and iconic Tower.

spk_1:   1:52
I'd say,

spk_0:   1:53
Yeah, I had a great opportunity. Thio, uh, spend a summer with the engineering and operations crew there. And essentially, that was what really cemented my intent to make operating skyscrapers my career path. Um, you know, I I fell in love when I when I got there, um, and I got a look around at the size of things and the systems and sort of the science behind, um, hi, rised operations. I was just I was just blown away and taken and decided that that's the path I wanted to take. And, um and, you know, I I took advantage of the opportunity and was afforded ah, full time employment. Uh, and I then, you know, while working, um, I also attended school to acquire my New York City operator's license. Um, you know, I rounded my experience in five assorted skyscrapers in New York City, the last of which was the opening and commissioning of a large tower in lower Manhattan. Ah, before relocating the San Francisco in the mid eighties. Ah, when I got here, uh, was part of teams that opened two more brand new towers went through the whole commissioning process. And, um, you know, in this position, you wear a lot of hats. But I would say that discipline Ah, I found most exciting was the energy efficiency space and the huge potential it had. When you put it on the scale of a skyscraper,

spk_1:   3:42
that's very cool. So you've been doing this a long time, and I'm sure that there's a lot of differences, cause I'm sure a lot of the listeners to this podcast manage portfolios of buildings. But you manage incredibly large buildings, which is almost like managing a portfolio. But can you explain to us the difference?

spk_0:   4:00
Yeah, I mean, it's all it's been one asset or one property at a time, and, um, you know the engineering crews in these buildings are essentially resident, and, um ah, you know, it's it's been one asset at a time for any varying amounts of time. Ah, and, um, you know, it's been an assortment of buildings, whether they're brand new out of the ground. Oh, our historical landmarks or sort of middle aged buildings, Uh, like this one, Um, where there are all sorts of opportunities, uh, for improvement. And we'll get into that in a little bit. I'm sure.

spk_1:   4:46
Yeah. So tell us a little bit about the California Center, Kind of how it's unique and about your role there and what and what you've been doing.

spk_0:   4:55
Very good. Um 345 Kalas, it's also known, is essentially it's a 50 storey tower in the financial district here in San Francisco, and it's somewhat unique in that 17% of the asset is a five star hotel. The top 11 stories of the building um, the bottom 35 are multi tenant commercial office space. And so you have that dual element, and yet it's still one tower. Ah, you know that the two entities hotel and office, they share a number of common systems or joint elements as we call them, given the fact that it is still one skyscraper. And so, you know, as the chief engineer here, Ah, you know, essentially handled the the engineering and operations of the building. Um, I have a seven person team. Ah, and we cover a wide range of disciplines system operations, the large central systems repairs. Ah, very robust preventive maintenance program. All things life safety, electrical distribution, all those sort of disciplines that you know can be wrapped up in this envelope. Ah. And so Ah, again, in my position, one has to put on different hats based on, uh, what discipline you're addressing at the time. You know all aspects of emergency preparation. Hi. Hi. Rights. Life safety and essentially protecting our owners liability. But energy manager and strategic planner, our primary to what I do day to day.

spk_1:   6:57
Can you unpack that a little bit? Like what? Can you explain why that's so important to the building? Because it seems like a big priority for for everyone of the California Center.

spk_0:   7:07
No question, um, the unit with an asset like this, um, and I should also mention that, um, the ownership group. Ah, that for this property. Um have, Ah, you know, US portfolio of, like, six trophy, high rise buildings. And, um, I'm very fortunate with working with and for this ownership, um, they are real estate professionals. They are into these assets for a long term hold. And that sets the stage for an environment where you know, you are improvements, retrofits, upgrades. This owner is willing to reinvest in their properties, um, based largely on their culture, which is to be, you know, excellent in this space. And so, you know, the when you look at properties on this scale and the opportunities they present for energy efficiency, you know, it gets to be pretty heady stuff, because I I can I can hopefully be part of teams that implement changes that have a significant impact, not only on the buildings, you know, consumption and usage profile, but also, you know, as a steward, um, you know, in the bigger picture and and wanting to be a responsible operator so that, you know, we really are having, you know, paying attention to sustainability. Ah, you know, the climate issues that we face, um and, uh, you know, And then there's the bottom line business aspect. of it. And the fact that you know, energy makes up a big part of our operating expense. One really has to sort of lay out a strategic plan that, in our case goes out for years. You know, implement these changes that that you could measure and that have, ah, real positive impact. Um, well, de facto energy managers here.

spk_1:   9:18
I love that. And we sure appreciate it all your hard work. And you've You've done a many projects over the years. Can you explain to us how technology has helped you modernize this building?

spk_0:   9:32
Okay, so let's see. We'll see if we can count the ways. Really? Tech is at the core of pretty much everything you've accomplished here. You know the use of pl Steve program programmable logic controllers that have ah machine learning capability. Wireless zone controls direct digital controls. Ah, variable frequency. Dr. Conversions, Advanced lighting controls with daylight harvesting. Um, data collection across all sorts of use cases. Ah, fiber optic communications infrastructure. Ah, and a smart elevator system with regenerative drives actually return power to the building distribution system. And so, uh, with technology and and a commercial asset, um, like this, I talk often about that when I called the joy of ownership, you know, and the fact that there comes a time when mechanical systems reach or exceed their expected life cycle, whether it be cooling towers or chillers. Fans pumps, controls and they must be the replaced or comprehensively retrofitted. Ah, this is expensive. And, um, you know, they're big projects, but all of them provide a great opportunity to get smarter and more efficient. Given the tech advances that that are out there and that we've seen in the last, you know, in our case, 35 plus years.

spk_1:   11:07
I mean, that's Ah, that's a lot of different technologies eaglets have implemented to improve and modernizing operations of the building. How do you keep track of all of that? I'm sure there's a lot of data that you're getting from these systems. How are you managing it all?

spk_0:   11:23
It's, um it's It's a challenge. But I mean, um, where we've sort of positioned ourselves for it again. The the fact that we have ah, rolling five year, um, capital plan. Ah, and and what goes into that is addressing, You know, real life issues like life cycle and, uh, you know, system expiration or obsolescence? Um, you you prioritize. You obviously scoured the asset. Um, assess. Ah, the state of systems as they exist today. You know, you know, we're always striving for, um, you know, improve reliability. We want thio limit exposure with regard to vulnerability. And with that mindset, you one Congar oh, out, um, and analyze systems. And, um, you know, come up with a strategy. Ah, that will either, you know, prolong their life, optimize their life or, um, those instances way, it's time to cut and run. Ah, and you know, take a 35 year old system, You know, that was rated, let's say, for 25 years, and you know, uh, where it's it's the best move is to outright replace it. But when you do that 35 years after inception, you no one has to look to to leverage the tech advances that we've seen. And so, yeah, and then a lot of you know, there is that that term that's been used in in our space Ah, and others is you know, for that matter is, you know, one cannot manage what they can't measure. And so data data mining and data analysis is absolutely key to that. And, uh, I think those of us in the space know that there are copious amounts of data that one can can mine, But it's really the data that is relevant and useful. Um, but that's the beauty of this. Uh, you know, this sort of movement is, you know, we're talking about meters. That measure results, whether it's water, you know, gas or steam, and certainly power. And so, um, what's really gratifying is when you implement one of these big moves is seeing the direct result on the bottom line.

spk_1:   14:08
That's always really powerful. And it helps build a business case for for future projects I wanted to ask you about because it sounds like you've really mastered the ability thio identify a problem, find a solution, build a business case to advocate for it and then execute. Can you just walk us through your thought process on how you adopt a new technology and how you build a business case?

spk_0:   14:34
You know, it's it's it has a sort of logical progression to it, and I've touched on it earlier. Is, um, assessment Ah, and, uh, of any given system or systems and and doing essentially ah, health check. And and that's sort of the the the, uh, the cradle stage. Um, and then one has thio be collaborative in exploring options, uh, you know, to address the whether it's the age or outdated technology or in some case, obsolescence of a given system. Um, and and that's really where you have to you really have to reach out. Um, you know, outside of the walls of your operation and and, ah, you know, explore And, um, you know, we all have a sort of networks that we use. Um, I have never done anything with a positive result by myself. Collaboration is just so key. Just leveraging. You know, the vast amount of, you know, knowledge, assets that are out there whether they're, you know, Internet based or just other professionals go from, you know, design engineers, tow operators, toe architects, too contractors and and making sure that you're really you're really staying aware of what's out there but more import importantly, how it may apply to your operation, because, let's face it, they're our techs out there that you know aren't a good fit. But, um, you know so that once and then you've got some some ideas on how you're going to get from, you know, a dizzy um And then then again, given the energy aspect, one without too much difficulty can can do R A Y Cox, you know, what are we What are we consuming with the system as it exists today? Um, how much labor is is going into that system at its advanced age? Um, you know, is it reliable all of these sort of criteria. And, um uh, you do you build your business case and and ideally, that business cases multi pronged again, reliability up time. Ah, efficiency. Such that, you know, the project could conceivably pay for itself in a reasonable amount of time, you know? And then also, you know, the working with the goal of extending the system upgrades or replacements out for another 25 or 30 years, as opposed to a Band Aid approach. And so, um, you you put that case together based on a lot of diligence, and, um and then, you know, hopefully you have a receptive upward. Ah, reporting and approval. You know, process and and culture that is open And and then there, there there are the mandates that are out there with regard to energy codes and the like that. Dr. Aah! These these advancements and you know, they they're expensive, but But they're there well founded. And, um, the results of some of the code mandated energy related stuff have been remarkable. You know, that's that's how I try to do it. And, um, you know, building credibility is very helpful if one starts out with some smaller, low risk implementations Ah, that are successful. Um, hopefully they're building the credibility such that they, you know, they can continue to advance and just keep checking things off the list.

spk_1:   18:30
Yeah, it's a It's a journey, isn't it?

spk_0:   18:33
It really is a cradle to grave process on any on some of the big stuff we've done here has been, you know, five years in the planning. Um, So, uh, you have to be, ah, deliberate and pragmatic. Ah, in some cases, patient and, um you know, because let's face it, there are a lot of forces that are pulling on, uh, on budget, that panel sorts of operational realities.

spk_1:   19:03
Yeah, we gotta be in it for the for the long run, and you've done a great job of that, um, with your award winning built building, so truck. So I want to kind of on that same. No, because it's hard. It's hard to build a business case and advocate for technology and that we know that they're some laggards in our industry, people who are accustomed to doing things the way they've always been done. And you and I have had a good laugh and we call you call those people cowardly dinosaurs and said, Don't be a cowardly dinosaur. Can you Can you, um, explain that to our audience?

spk_0:   19:42
Um, of course. And, um, you know those two words they could note? Uh, exactly what? What? I'm trying to, you know, summarizing two words. And, you know, let's let's get something straight. Cowardly dinosaurs are not bad people. Um, but, uh, you know, I I've been around long enough in anyone who has ah will inevitably encounter individuals that that are just They're inherently closed minded. They're ignorant to the tech that's out there that can improve performance. Um, they're they're stagnant. Maybe they've been around ah, the same environment for too long, or they're just plain scared to explore in AA and pitch and implement projects, you know, based on the opportunities. And you know, the sad and scary aspect of this type of individual in our groups, it many cowardly dinosaurs that are out there and they're in decision making positions and and and that's that's you know, what we hope to see or that individual that mentality evolve out of our space. Um, you know, I use the term gatekeeper and, um, you know, it's what's Ah, bad combination in my mind is, um, you know, gatekeeper, someone who is that the person who is going to is charged with setting and exploring, um, technologies and opportunities right, whether they're an energy manager and engineering manager and asset manager. Um, any number of folks, um, who are tasked in that regard. And if if if that gate keeper is is a cowardly dinosaur, that's that's a really that's a recipe for just sort of, um, standing still. And if we're standing still, I think we can all agree that in today's day and age, we're going backward. Um, and so you know, uh, it's it's having to navigate these types of individuals. Um in our organizations and, um, you know, hopefully, ah, there's cracks in the gate, and and, um but But I've I've railed against that, that personality type and I have challenged myself to, um you know, avoid that that stagnation, um, you know, in the fear, then you know, one of some of these projects when you you pitch them or you explore them and and and put them together in the business case, you know, there is, You know, there is some inherent risk. Will it work? Um, you know, will it will it brief the benefits that we project? And, um, you know, uh, that's where hopefully you can put the coward on the shelf, and And, Ah, you know, I feel confident in the diligence that you've done. And, um, you know, I've gotten so much gratification and seeing the results that are just so irrefutable,

spk_1:   23:10
that's great. And I think you're a really gree example of someone who's been innovative and nimble in your rule, which can be traditionally a laggard. So I'm I've always been super impressed with the work that you've done. So An

spk_0:   23:24
amber, remember? I'm older, man.

spk_1:   23:28
I know

spk_0:   23:30
that. You know I am not a a millennial or I I am north of six decades. And, um, again, it's like if I allow myself to slip into that dangerous place Ah, you know, um, I'll end up beating myself up, and so I've gotta practice what I preach.

spk_1:   23:53
Yeah, and you're definitely in that top percentile of most innovative chief engineer's. I know. Everyone could do it. All right, So I wanted Thio unpack something that you mentioned earlier, which is local mandates. And along with this cowardly dinosaur idea, how do you think local mandates can help push some of these folks who maybe haven't considered technology over the edge?

spk_0:   24:20
It's it's It's a great question. A great pulling. Um, the fact is, in a sense, the mandates, um have, uh oh, I don't know. Why would they have relieved the cowardly dinosaurs of some of the ah, the things that scare them? Um, you know, when things are voluntary Ah, and and yet they make good business, huh? Cases. But, you know, it's a different dynamic. You have to sell the project to the to the stakeholders. Um, and you know, the stakeholders spend, you know, arrange whether their financial folks, whether there, you know, ownership. Ah, it could be, um, you know, in a corporate facility environment, you know, a larger sort of approval chain. But mandates are mandates and and, you know, such that one Congar o to the owner, the pursed purse keeper. Ah, and say, Hey, it's the law. We must comply. And so those mandates have gone a long way to, um, you know, I hope they're not helping to hide the dinosaurs. Um, but, uh, they have certainly had an impact. And we all live, you know, in ah, in a time, Ah, with the climate crisis. Ah, with population growth. Um, you know, resource is that they're being stretched, Um, such that we've, you know, uh, the zero net energy movement on. And what not only the city of San Francisco in the city of Oakland, but the state of California are doing with some ambitious goals to get to zero net energy. And so, um, thank goodness there are these mandates that helped drive, uh, energy, you know, use reduction. Um, because in some cases, it's the only way it will get done in certain organizations And at certain assets.

spk_1:   26:36
Yep, that's the truth. And I think we'll start to see in the next few years everyone kind of nudging in the same direction. And I'm really excited to see what we can do here in California and all the major cities really that are that are pushing for these mandates. And it's an exciting time.

spk_0:   26:53
Yeah. What? Ijust add one piece to it, and this is what I consider a long time sort of untapped resource in in this space. And and that is occupants occupants of these properties. Um, that, uh you know, uh, and trying to engage, um, are occupants and and, um, solicit their involvement in the bigger movement. And, um, you know, we've partnered with P Jeannie and other groups and in trying to really shine a light on that and the codes, um, are even sort of sprinkled, Certainly the electrical coat in California Title 24 There is a document engagement elements to the mandate, um, that are really encouraging, because again, it's there in an untapped resource, changing behavior in the workplace where you know an individual may not be a cz incentivized as they would be, Let's say, in their home, where they're paying for their ah utility bill. You know, there's a lot of there's a lot that can be gleaned from from all of the folks that we have that our energy users in the building.

spk_1:   28:15
Yeah, which brings me to a great point, cause that's at the core of everything that we believe here, too. It's occupant behavior change for a more sustainable built environment, and we've seen it happen. And you've actually just implemented a great project with the tenant occupant behavior occupant. Um, data analysis. You wanna talk to us a little bit about that?

spk_0:   28:39
Yes. Um, and And we're still, um we're getting closer and closer to what would be considered in our, you know, environment here at the California Center. Ah, substantial transition. And, um, try to keep it simple, because it really is, um, the nature of ah, the commercial office leases here, which is the case across the ah, the CBD and and in the industry, you know, are such that Ah, tenant in in ah, property. Um hey, they're pro rata share of utility costs. You know, water usage, power usage, whatever you're using on utility for a heat on condition your building. So, in a case in point is a tenant that occupies 5% of the, uh, you know, the rentable square feet in a property with our current lease structure that they are paying 5% of utility costs. Um, and that's fine. And utility costs are covered that way. You know, tenants pay their rent and they pay their share of operating expenses. Which, of course, it is a long list. You know, whether you're cleaning the building, maintaining the building, repairing it, securing it, and so on the utility is there a big, you know, piece of that pie. So the problem with that that approach is it really lacks incentive for the tenant. Um, you could have attendant that is high density or, you know, power user, um, you know, or one that is just inherently inefficient. Ah, and they may be consuming more than their Peratis share of the utility costs, but, ah, they're not incentivized to reduce their usage because they're not being, you know, they're not paying for what they eat, is what I've come to to say, huh? And so what we did. And in partnership with with Lucid, who's been a just a great a great partner in the whole process is, um, you know, we went through this sort of three phase implementation. First phase was putting in place revenue grade. Um, come, you know, meters power sub meters over 60 of them, every floor in the building, and then on to all sorts of systems in the building. Um Ah. That are again revenue grade power consumption meters put those all in place, and now we're collecting that. The next step was we built a fiber network of vertical network that would enable us to start a series of implementations, most of which have an energy impact. We the the meters that we put in place can talk. Um, we integrated them onto our fiber network. And then ah, we partnered with Lucid, um, in, uh, establishing, putting in place a gateway. And that meter data, um, is streaming out to the lucid platform and another example of a cloud based system for us so that, you know, essentially now the stage is set to transition to direct Meet Oring and our management team, the leasing team and ownership as well as myself are have been using the data we've been collecting. Ah, to do comparisons on. You know what people are paying today based on the pro rata agreement and what they would be paying today if they were paying for what they eat. And in many cases, you know their attendants that will benefit from it. But, um, we are on the verge of changing our lease language such that we're going to transition to direct power meter. Um, this in my mind, um, is going to be a catalyst for, you know, better occupant engagement. I

spk_1:   33:07
love that. Now, are these tenants gonna have monthly reports, or are you gonna do dashboards in their offices? What's your plan for engaging those occupants?

spk_0:   33:17
Um, all of that is in play. Um, you know, building OS allows us, um, to take that data and what we'll do is continue to sort of tweak and optimize the platform so that, you know, 10 and a can see have access to and monitor their their real time energy use. So not only what we consumed yesterday or last month, or for the year, but they can look at it in real time, and so that that is, you know that is something that as the meter, the direct billing transition is happening. Um, we part of that is transparency. So the tenant, um, can see their usage data. As you guys know that has a just based on human nature. And there have been studies done, but that by itself will will stimulate efficiencies. We humans love to be graded, and we tend to want to improve our grades. Yes, we will have the ability. Um, you know, and so many businesses out there have become increasingly savvy and have you know, any number of corporate, um ah, sustainability goals, reporting requirements and all of that. So it all really does combine to create an environment where occupants will help us and help themselves in reducing carbon footprint and associated costs.

spk_1:   34:53
I love that story. It's It's really quarter what we do and what we believe. So it's great to hear you guys are executing on that. Um, well, we're coming up towards the end of our time. So I always like to ask the guests on the show the same question at the end. Which is what have you learned in your journey? And what advice would you give to someone who is maybe looking to accomplish what you've accomplished.

spk_0:   35:18
Um, I've learned a lot, Uh, and I still have so much more to learn. But really, I've learned Thio be open and stay open. Ah, directly directly related to that is to not got not allow yourself to get stagnant. Um, you know, and sedentary, so to speak, remain all of us until the end of what we're doing. You know, we have to maintain a student of the game approach and mentality, you know, learn toe leave no stone unturned. Um, you know, through, you know, analysis exploration prioritization. You know, in that point, I made earlier the idea that you know, you you can't, Matt manage what you don't measure. And so, um, you know, I've I've learned to nine and use data in a productive way. Um, I've also learned that, um, you know, in environments like this, uh, it's a continuous effort. It isn't a one time. Um, you know, these aren't one off implementations, you know, controls, for example, can drift, and one has to continually re commission. And, um, that's got to be part of one's overall, you know, energy. Uh, you know program. Um and then I just close on that The fact that if you know, if you are ah, a cowardly dinosaur, you're gonna become extinct.

spk_1:   36:59
So lessons from today don't become extinct. Stay open. Always optimize. Always be learning. You heard it from Tim Did himself the chief engineer at the California Center. 345 California in San Francisco. Tim, it's always a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you so much for coming on our show.

spk_0:   37:21
Thank you so much, Amber. It's been it's been great. And thank you for having

spk_1:   37:24
me. And I'll see you tomorrow. We're going to be doing a little walkthrough of Ah, the California center. I can't wait.

spk_0:   37:30
No, I'm looking forward to showing it to you

spk_1:   37:33
and for all of you listeners out there. Thank you for tuning in. This is the modern energy management podcast. My name is Amber. Our trip. I'm the producer of the show. If you have any questions for us or if you'd like to come on the show, please go ahead and email us at communications at lucid d g dot com. We'd love to hear from you and we would love to give you a platform to share your modern energy management story. Don't forget to subscribe to our show on apple podcasts, and you can catch the show wherever you get your podcasts. Until then, we'll be back next week with another great story for you. Thank you.

spk_0:   40:41
And, uh, an internship.