Brandon Wikoff & Gary Downes talk energy and cost reduction for Climate Action KC’s “Built Environment Week”

Jun 09, 2020

Recently Vice President of Administration Brandon Wikoff and Sr. Energy Engineer Gary Downes sat down with Climate Action KC‘s Jeremy Knoll to talk about the environmental and economic benefits of proper building maintenance. The interview was featured as a part of Climate Action KC’s Climate Conversation series, in coordination with the Mid American Regional Council. In the conversation, which took place during the series’ “Built Environment Week,” Wikoff and Downes discussed preventative maintenance programs, greenhouse gas reduction and return on investment in mechanical systems. 

Knoll pointed out that building energy accounts for about 60% of greenhouse gas emissions in KC Metro region, asking “how can we best begin to bring this number down?” Downes replied that the best place to start is by improving building-owner awareness. He went on to say that maintenance programs offer facility owners long-term cost reduction, prolonged equipment life, and enhanced uptime or mechanical system reliability. 

As an example, Downes described a U.S. Engineering retro-commissioning project that not only reduced energy, but also provided the owner with a quick ROI: “A recent retro-commissioning project that we applied at Saint Luke’s East facility allowed them to reduce greenhouse gases by about 6.5 million pounds…and that resulted in a 1.3-year payback on the investment.” 

When asked why our region isn’t progressing faster in building energy reduction, Wikoff responded, “A failure to realize the cost benefits of reducing energy and emissions.” He noted that reducing emissions happens “as a result of having good data and the knowledge of what to do with that data once you have it.” 

The conversation closed out with a question about the future: what is your vision for a climate-resilient KC Metro region? Wikoff answered with a message of solidarity. A future in which “our community and neighbors can look each other in the face and know even without asking that they’re doing their part and making an effort to help us advance as a region.” 

Learn more about Climate Action KC here

Bonus!

Knoll also spoke briefly with Wikoff and Downes about the challenges presented in returning workforces into office buildings that haven’t been occupied for months due to lockdowns caused by COVID-19.

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