Originally published on CarbonLighthouse.com

At the intersection of Hawaii’s outstanding businesses and sustainability thought leaders you’ll find Alexander & Baldwin (A&B), a publicly-traded real estate investment trust (REIT) with a 149-year history of sustainable operations in Hawaii.

As one of Hawaii’s largest private landowners and the state’s largest grocery and drug-anchored retail operator with 3.5 million square feet under management, A&B has long-played a prominent role in promoting sustainability in the islands. It has been producing renewable energy since 1906, with its first hydroelectric facility on Kauai. The company has continued its extensive involvement of driving environmental and financial value from clean energy and efficiency.

Due to a heavy dependence on imported petroleum, Hawaii has some of the highest energy prices in the nation — hovering around 30 cents a kilowatt-hour, or twice the national average. This makes commercial buildings, which alone accounts for nearly 20 percent of all energy usage in the United States, prime candidates for Efficiency Production, our process of converting energy waste into guaranteed financial revenue.

Like Hawaii itself — which was the first state to adopt a 100 percent renewable energy goal for electricity generation by 2045 — A&B has never been afraid to think big and be on the forefront of innovative and efficient sustainable technology. The company was curious to see if it could go even further to improve the efficiency of its buildings to generate positive environmental impact, financial value and increase shareholder returns.

Carbon Lighthouse partnered with A&B to reduce energy consumption at several well-known Oahu retail centers, including the Sam’s Club-anchored Pearl Highlands Center, Kaka’ako Commerce Center and the Safeway-anchored Manoa Marketplace, as well as a Maui office building. In aggregate, we have helped A&B increase energy efficiency at four properties totaling nearly 805,000 square feet or approximately 23 percent of their commercial real estate portfolio.

The project involved performance upgrades to the lighting, heating and cooling systems, with Carbon Lighthouse engineers implementing advanced controls and ongoing monitoring of the properties for variances so they can work with A&B to take any necessary corrective action.


The Technicals

A&B has been active in modernizing and retrofitting its assets with progressive amenities and technology, including ensuring its HVAC equipment is updated. While the company had considered investments into upgraded HVAC control systems and technology like Variable Frequency Drives (VFD’s), the financial returns were hard to predict — a common challenge. Using our unique data-driven approach, Carbon Lighthouse finds Efficiency Reserves that have not yet been utilized and guarantees the financial value.

Below are some of the significant efficiency measures we implemented at the A&B sites:

  • Optimized condenser water supply temperature control and cooling tower fan operation through installation of new VFDs and optimization of programming logic.
  • Re-programmed chiller controls to use most efficient chiller at all times without impacting lifetime or warranties.
  • Programmed optimal start logic into the controls system. Central plant and air handlers will dynamically start operations each day to use the least amount of energy to have the tenant spaces comfortable for occupancy.
  • Fixed damper control and algorithms to bring in as much or as little outside air as space temperatures, occupancy, outdoor temperatures, and humidity allow.
  • Enabled optimized duct static pressure control for the office space Air Handler Unit (AHU) supply fan.


The Impact

  • Across all sites, carbon elimination of 9,700+ tons of carbon dioxide over a ten-year period, which is the same as conserving over 22,600 barrels of oil — enough to power 1,162 homes for a year.
  • Total first-year savings: 680,160 kWh, or the carbon generated by 54,121 gallons of gasoline.


The road ahead

With implementation completed, Carbon Lighthouse is guaranteeing the financial value of the energy savings for ten years. Our results assurance team will continue to deliver the energy savings performance of these sites to make sure that A&B is receiving the financial and environmental benefits initially predicted using our powerful CLUES® software. If the savings fall short due to an issue with our scope, we take corrective action by either cutting a check or fixing the problem on our own dime.

Our engineering team also constantly searches for new energy savings technologies we can incorporate in our CLUES® software and we are in frequent communication with A&B stakeholders to propose ways of increasing the financial value and environmental impact at these sites with more guaranteed savings. As is our standard, there is no cost to A&B for these ongoing services.

“As part of a broader strategy to enhance value, we expect this could save up to seven figures over 10 years, depending on the property. No insignificant number,” said A&B’s SVP of Asset Management Kit Millan. “Moreover, operating our businesses in ways that are sustainable and benefit the community is an important part of our commitment to being “Partners for Hawaii.” We view Carbon Lighthouse as a valuable partner in that effort.”

A&B has been impressed by the results and progress thus far of Energy Production and will be looking to expand our partnership to include additional properties from their commercial real estate portfolio.