3 Ways AMLI Residential Reduced Energy Consumption and Expenses

AMLI Residential is making a splash in savings with water at its properties, but not how you might think.

Cutting energy costs has become a big initiative in multifamily housing, and AMLI Residential has reshaped its brand in recent years to focus on a greener side of apartment living. New developments are built according to the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. AMLI Uptown in Houston has been a model property, earning a Platinum certification.

The recent improvements at each of AMLI’s 48 properties, along with a portfolio-wide site lighting upgrade, is netting significant savings in operating expenses, says Bryan Re, AMLI Residential’s National Director of Energy and Building Services.

“It’s the simple things first,” he said.

The developer and manager of luxury apartments is minimizing the amount of time water circulates in pools and fountains to help cut electricity usage and lower energy bills. Variable speed pumps that move water in pools and timers on decorative fountains now provide efficient use of power to keep water circulating throughout their amenities.

Now AMLI Residential is focusing on what it can do to be more energy-efficient at all properties, including those that are older and built to different standards.

Putting a plan together to save on energy is working

About two years ago, the company put an energy-efficiency team and processes in place to assess assets and create ways to reduce utility expenses. Re, who has commercial building background, was hired and a proprietary dashboard was created in Purchasing to enable visibility at the meter level.

“I think (utilities) are one of our bigger expenses if you carve out real estate taxes and salaries,” said Steve Hallsey, president and CEO of AMLI’s management group. “Obviously, the more time you spend on utilities and educating your teams and your residents around that, I think it pays (off). It certainly has for us.”

AMLI Water Pumps

The dashboard, which enables an inside look at each meter on the property to monitor energy and water consumption, has already paid big dividends. Hallsey estimates the company has saved ”significant money” just by finding problems early.

“It’s proven to be a huge benefit to us, and that’s one area that has a high impact and can save dollars.” he said.

Re, who is an LEED Accredited Professional, joined AMLI Residential in 2012 and began visiting properties to find cost savings.

“I focus on simple payback,” he said. I just want the energy saved versus how much it costs. I’ll do a simple payback in months or years, and that’s where I  set up thresholds and benchmarks.”  Re identified three things that would provide a quick return on investment and reduce energy spends:

1. Replace existing pool pumps with variable speed circulation systems

Many of the pool pumps at the properties were single speed, used 2,000-3,000 watts of electricity per hour and ran all the time, Re said. By installing variable speed pumps, properties have cut energy usage by more than half. Pumps run at a lower speed at night during off-peak resident usage hours and save on energy.

AMLI-on-Maple-Pool - 3

2. Install timers on fountains to reduce run times

AMLI Residential has many fountains throughout its properties, most of which operated around the clock, burning electricity. Timers were installed to shut fountains off during the wee hours of the night.

“It was surprising that at a lot of our properties’ fountains would run all day and all night, every day,” he said.

3. Replace HID site lighting with CFLs

Wattage was reduced on lights in parking lots and garages by replacing high intensity discharge (HID) lighting with compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). In many cases, retrofits had to be made, which required additional time. But the upgrade was worth it.

“The savings were unreal,” Re said.

A planning and budgeting initiative is under way to optimize outside air equipment at mid-rise and high-rise properties. Re expects to see big savings at a south Florida property just by tweaking the controls and educating all of the operators.

“We’re working with our Development group and AMLI’s Sustainability Manager, Erin Hatcher, to put together operation and maintenance manuals for residents to help with that. We’re trying to do things right.”

Most of the upgrades have been completed, and AMLI Residential continues to seek ways to make its properties greener and lower energy costs.

(Image Sources: Tim Blackwell)

Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

author photo two

Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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