How much energy does it take to save energy? While this may sound like a joke, it's less of a riddle and more of a reality for facilities professionals everywhere. The team at Boston-based Fidelity Real Estate Co. can vouch for this. When the company set out to achieve a 10-percent reduction in energy costs portfolio-wide in 2003, the facilities team planned to meet the ambitious goal with aggressive actions.While reducing energy in a portfolio of 8 million owned and leased square feet throughout the United States would prove to be challenging, the results of the initiative demonstrate that big goals equal big savings. The massive energy program kicked off at the company's Marlboro, MA, site. We implemented this program in conjunction with our engineering services group throughout the portfolio. We started the program in Marlboro. It was the first out of the gate and very aggressive,” explains Joseph Blades, senior director of real estate operations at Fidelity Real Estate Co.Individuals at each of the company's eight regional sites “including its two outsource providers, Jones Lang LaSalle and EMCOR Facilities Inc. “worked with the engineering services group to identify opportunities for energy reduction. These opportunities were then evaluated, paybacks were calculated, and (when possible) became initiatives that were implemented and consequently tracked. In Marlboro alone, for instance, we came up with 76 different energy conservation opportunities,” says Blades. Of the opportunities that were identified, approximately 85 to 90 percent were implemented. Some of them just weren't feasible,” Blades explains. But we implemented almost all of them.”These energy-saving initiatives ranged from replacing equipment that had passed its useful life to installing occupancy sensors to reduce lighting loads. It also included the installation of a software program that automatically activates the sleep mode on computer monitors after-hours. We found out that, in most cases, there was somewhere around 60 percent of the monitors left on 24 hours a day,” says Joseph Maselli, vice president, engineering services, Fidelity Real Estate Co., Boston. It was hundreds of thousands of dollars that we saved across the board by implementing this software program.”Relamping and new ballasts pushed the portfolio even closer to its goal. No part of the building and grounds was exempt from consideration “including the sites' structured parking garages. Metal halide lamps were replaced in a pilot program that started at the Marlboro site. After testing energy-efficient fluorescent lamps, it was determined that they were suitable and did not alter the look of the garage, the color of light, or the lumen output. After we finished that, we retrofitted one entire garage, and then we shared this practice with the rest of our sites around the country. And to my knowledge, right now, I think everybody has retrofitted,” explains Blades.Of the many strategies, one that resulted in significant savings and cost little money was the realignment of plant operations with employee populations. We reviewed and adjusted the operating hours for all of our HVAC equipment and our lighting controls,” says Blades. In doing so, the company benefited from huge savings. When you multiply the number of buildings and the amount of hours [they're] operated, times what it costs to operate this equipment per hour, the savings is incredible,” he explains.Doing this made Fidelity Investments associates acutely aware of the cost of energy consumption. We actually shifted the culture a bit,” Blades acknowledges. Once the engineering services group had the attention of the company's financial professionals, investment in other energy management strategies was easier to sell. If [the payback] was 3 years or less, we got our financial people to look at it because it made sense,” he explains.When the payback topped out at 7 or 8 years, utility rebate programs were investigated. In every instance that we implemented an energy conservation initiative, we went after the rebates from the utility. If we could get them, we got them,” Blades explains. With the use of rebates, many of the technologies and products “which at first seemed too costly “were easily justifiable.Our goal was a reduction of 10 percent in energy costs in 2003, and we got an overall energy costs reduction of 17 percent,” says Blades. As the program began, people immediately began brainstorming. Everybody got excited. The ideas started flowing like water,” he explains.The riddle is solved: If you're looking to save energy, make sure your team has a lot of energy to give. Remember “the payback is worth every penny.Jana J. Madsen ([email protected]) is managing editor at Buildings magazine.