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A Better Building That Pays for Itself

700 6th St NW


This case study features a property managed by Cushman and Wakefield.Cushman Wakefield Logo

James Hampton

In the Spring of 2018, James (Jim) Hampton took over as Chief Engineer at 700 6th St NW, which had an ENERGY STAR score of 69 for the previous year. Cushman & Wakefield hired him in part based on his reputation for saving money while improving building performance. Within two years, Hampton and his team had increased the building’s ENERGY STAR score to 86 and dramatically reduced operating expenses with no-cost solutions, including an inventive way to recapture heat loss.

“My mentality is that I’m always training my replacement.”
James Hampton, Chief Engineer for Cushman & Wakefield's property at 700 6th St NW

Mario Alvarado (left) and Jhony Cruz (right)

As he started the job, Hampton made it a priority to engage his colleagues in the operational improvements. “My mentality is that I’m always training my replacement,” he explained. Engineering team members Mario Alvarado and Jhony Cruz collaborated with Hampton to identify ways to improve building performance. The winter of 2018 showed a 20.8% decrease in energy consumption, which the team achieved using a combination of equipment scheduling adjustments, temperature resets, and airside and waterside economizers.

To reach the next level of efficiency, the team got creative. Hampton realized that the tenants’ equipment in the building generated a large amount of heat from 24/7 equipment, such as servers and refrigerators. During the winter of 2019, the team began to repurpose this heat from a loss to a building energy source. To do this, the team adjusted the equipment controls to circulate the warmer return air to pre-heat perimeter zones during the morning warm-up cycle, prior to initiating the use of heating coils in the variable air volume (VAV) boxes. By harnessing existing warm air, rather than running the heating coils, the team generated thousands of dollars in savings each winter month. This method of “free heating” as the team coined the term, “effectively eliminated the need for VAV reheat on mild winter mornings.”

The “free heating” approach did not require any additional costs, but it did require hundreds of set point changes. To automate the process, Hampton’s team invested $10,000 in an automated system developed by Albireo Energy, a building management system contractor. This was quickly paid back as the “free heating” solution saved $10,000 per month.

Graph of winter consumption at 700 6th. St. in Washington, DC. showing 2017-2018 as the highest consumption year and 2019-2020 as the lowest.

Graphic from an InSite report, courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

The District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) and InSite, the manager of the property’s energy analytics, were able to illustrate through data analysis an energy reduction of greater than 15% resulting from the simple changes Hampton’s team made to equipment operations and not from a typical capital improvement equipment upgrade. As a result, the DCSEU awarded the building a $21,660 incentive through its Pay for Performance program for the decrease.

To ensure this unique and effective low-tech approach can continue even in his absence, Hampton created a detailed instructional manual with photos to document the processes used. He’s very interested in applying lessons to high-rise buildings and sees it as a potential game-changer for utilities.

While the District’s Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) had not yet been set, the team had future-proofed its building against the regulation, as its ENERGY STAR score of 84 put it well above the 2021 standard for office buildings, which is a 71. It’s also quite likely Hampton’s team will meet the standard for the first two or three compliance cycles. This gives the team the time it needs to decide what additional improvements it will make, and to put aside funds in preparation. In the interim, the team is able to provide lower operating costs and offer tenants competitive utility bill prices.

Building Stats

Address: 700 6th St NW

Square footage: 300,000 sq. ft.

No. of floors: 12

Use type: Commercial office

Date constructed: 2009

ENERGY STAR score: 84 (2019)

Building Team

Owner: USAA Realco

Manager: Cushman & Wakefield

Management team:

  • James Hampton, Chief Engineer
  • Mario Alvarado and Jhony Cruz, Engineering Team
  • Mary Kathleen Abboud, Sr. Property Manager
  • Kirsten Baldacci, Asst. Property Manager

Energy analytics: Insite

Building Management System: Albireo Energy

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