Wistar Wood, of WegoWise Inc., explains that Wego” stands for water, electric, gas, and oil.” WegoWise is a web-based, company that track a property’s utility data, mainly water, electric, gas and oil, and they do it wisely; hence the name WegoWise. Wistar goes on to explain to Marla that the company’s intuitive software platform provides insight into a building’s energy and water efficiency, enabling building owners and property managers to achieve immediate and sustained savings. While the software is used for most any type of property, they mostly target multi-family buildings. The technology is very simple. For example, in a multi-family building, electric meters almost always track usage for individual units. Typically, the software service and/or meter is installed in the landlord or property manager’s unit as they are the ones responsible for paying the bill for their on-site unit as well as the common area’s heating and electricity.
Wistar and Marla connected right away, as Marla began her career in green building by developing an online owner’s manual to be used by both single and multi-family residences primarily for green certification. Wistar shares that WegoWise chooses multi-family residences for many reasons. Mainly when it comes to collecting big data and comparing the performance of one property against another similar property such as an individual apartment/condo inside a multi-family structure to another apartment/condo in the same building it makes the comparisons extremely relevant. It’s like comparing apples to apples versus apples to cucumbers.
The Importance of Collecting Data
Some of us are incredibly inefficient with how we are using energy and water. Unless there’s a big spike in utility bills many problems often go undetected. Collecting and comparing data establishes benchmarks and norms which help tenants realize they are using much more energy and/or water than their peers.
WegoWise software provides great visuals such as line graphs and bar-charts that tracks comparative usage regarding how individuals are performing compared to other units clear. People tend to discover they are wasting a lot of energy and water which costs them extra money. We all tend to be highly motivated to make changes when things affect our pocketbooks.
People think they’re doing good by simply monitoring their energy and water bills. However, there many kinds of aberrations and spikes reflected in monthly utility bills. Sometimes it’s as simple as an inaccurate meter reading, and sometimes is something much more serious like a long-term leak that has gone undetected. Wistar recalls a client whose gas line on the roof ruptured and had been leaking gas for 3 months which cost them $55,000! No one paid attention to the spike, but finally, someone took notice and with our help they rectified the situation. A gas leak inside the building envelope would have been very dangerous but fortunately, the leak was on the roof. However, it was still an incredible waste of energy, time and money.
Wistar goes on to say that after tracking and reporting utility usage WegoWise tends to partner well with companies who then come in and diagnose areas needing improvement. The building commissioners, who are now sometimes called “building therapists” come in and suggest fixes that are as simple as tweaking a dial or meter to recalibrating the whole system. WegoWise then uses its software to track data after the corrections are made to compare with a systems prior usage. The company offers several different levels of service ranging from WegoWise for the home which is a free service to WegoPremium that provides advanced analytical support to identify important savings opportunities.
Property Owners, Landlords, and Millennials
According to Wistar, it’s the property owners and landlords who typically use the software. In most cases, the building owner purchases the service and/or the meters and then train the on-site property managers. Generally, it’s the managers who become the experts at reading the data and the owners and tenants who get the benefits of saving money.
However, it’s not just about the money. There’s a growing number of renters and property owners who care a great deal about sustainability. Therefore, more property management companies are beginning to advertise as being sustainability conscious. Renters and homeowners, especially Millennials are now making buying decisions based not only on the cost of rent and utilities but also on a company’s green practices and levels of sustainability. These are the types of people that form desirable communities and thereby naturally raise property values.
Wistar encourages people to press their landlords regarding how they are managing their energy and water consumption and what sustainable practices are being employed to track each unit’s usage. Both Wistar and Tony agree that green practices and sustainability are huge selling points.
The bottom line is that, “you can’t manage it unless you measure it, and that’s what our software is doing,” states Wistar. We’re measuring energy and water consumption numbers and based on the findings people then can take action. We shine the light on issues that need improvement or we check the boxes on where they are highly efficient which is also a strong marketing tool.
Not only is tracking energy usage a great marketing tool but the data collected can also help purchasers borrow funds at lower interest rates. Green loans are now being offered by HUD, Fanny Mae, and Freddy Mac. Typically, these loans require borrowers to track and report the energy and water usage of each individual unit as well as the common areas. The government wants us to be more energy efficient so they are motivating owners and landlords by lowering interest rates.
Complying with the requirements of a green loan can get complicated when having to report data for a whole multi-family building. That’s where WegoWise offers solutions that empower owners and managers to better understand, track, and improve building efficiency so they can obtain better loans at lower interest rates.
There are so many multi-family buildings in our country today and they have a huge impact on the environment. The good news is that “today’s multi-family buildings are as energy efficient as ever.” It’s now common practice to install double-paned glass, highly efficient gas and heating systems and solar energy panels making green funding more easily accessible.
Jetson’s Here We Come!
Wistar and Marla are both excited about the new technology on the horizon. Products such as occupancy sensors that turn lights on and off as people come and go, automatic timers on fans, and amazing new low flow, high-pressure shower heads. One of the most exciting developments are the smart meters that can notify property managers of the usage of every single fixture (sinks, toilettes, and showers) in every single unit throughout an entire building.
It’s all about awareness, so whether its multi-family residences, private homes, civic buildings or business offices measuring and managing water, electricity, gas and oil usage saves money, sustains the environment and is just plain wise.
- a Green Gab podcast with Marla
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