Revitalizing Detroit, One Building at a Time

Detroit is a city of incredible potential. Bedrock Real Estate Services is helping to realize that potential by managing a growing portfolio of 80 commercial buildings that are part of the Quicken empire.

Scott Collins, project executive with Bedrock, is an advocate of smart buildings. That’s an easy term to throw around, but for his real estate portfolio it means a conversion of buildings with inefficient, siloed systems to buildings that communicate their operations 24/7, sharing their operation with a command centre that monitors all building systems. Where 80 engineers were once required to operate individual buildings, the command centre employs 20 highly efficient engineers, connected to all of the buildings.

“Whether you start big and entirely replace a building’s systems or start small and just chip away at a building’s pain points, you’re going to achieve significant savings through efficiency,” he says.

For most of Collins’ portfolio, building systems are generally replaced, including mechanical, electrical, security and HVAC.

“By combining the systems into one integrated system, we achieve a lot of efficiency,” he says. “For example, think of a building where a thermal sensor tells the HVAC system to keep the building heated to exactly 75 F. If I combine that system with a smart monitoring system, I might reprogram that heating system to pre-warm the building early in the morning at 6 a.m. when energy costs are lower, instead of later when they’re expensive and ultimately save money.”

Smart building principles can trump LEED points

While Collins understands the value of LEED — he’s LEED accredited — often smart building principles can trump LEED points for direct benefits, he says.

“If my building HVAC system is instructed to heat a certain amount of outside air and mix it with indoor air, it will cost a consistent amount of money,” Collins says. “LEED may in fact reward my building for bringing in additional outside air. But suppose I install a CO2 sensor that tells me that oxygen levels inside the building are more than adequate and I modify the intake to mix eight per cent of outside air instead of 10. I would save a considerable amount of energy over a year’s time.”

Builders shouldn’t avoid smart building features just because of perceived costs

While some builders avoid smart building features on account of perceived costs, Collins notes the increased costs are generally a fraction of the overall build.

“If a building costs me $150 per square foot to repurpose, the smart features generally cost about 25 cents per square foot to integrate,” he says. “As someone with a construction background, my only concerns during the construction phase are to ensure that the architect and contractors are installing the systems to smart specs — however, those systems are often no different from what you might be installing otherwise.”

Bedrock office buildings are currently 95% leased

Savvy tenants who understand that operating costs often exceed leasing costs are far easier to sell on tenancy, says Collins. Bedrock office buildings are currently 95 per cent leased.

Collins says his ultimate goal is to completely integrate the company’s security and engineering command systems.

“I’d like to see a system where I use my security card to enter the building, and the building knows that Scott will be coming up the elevator soon, and is already adjusting the temperature in my office to my specifications before I open the door,” he says.

This article was written by Peter Kenter and published by Daily Commercial News. Republished with permission.

Interest(s): Construction, Property, Renovation Date: December 16, 2015