Tracking Tenant Data: Five Things To Know Before You Begin
Trying to track your tenant's energy use? That’s great! Before you get started, we’d like to share some insights we’ve gained from helping our users do the same. Here are five key things to keep in mind:
1. Whether Tenant Data is Right for You
Are you just looking to incorporate energy tracking into your sustainability initiatives? If so, consider starting with owner-paid utility accounts. Even if you only pay the common area electric, you can glean some interesting information from these accounts. If you are using energy management software, you can use common area usage to identify which buildings are the worst performing for these spaces, helping you take the first steps to reducing the energy consumption of your buildings.
2. All Your Options
Before you start going door-to-door asking for usage histories, it's worth spending the time researching all the options for acquiring tenant data available to you. These might include:
- Getting a spreadsheet of your tenants' historical usage or a building-wide usage sum directly from your utility provider. Depending on the utility, you may have to pay for the data, and some utilities still require authorization from tenants to release the data.
- Asking your tenants for copies of their historical bills. This will amount to work on the tenants’ end to locate and copy their bills, as well as on your end to organize the data so it’s in a useful format.
- Obtaining releases so that you can set up online accounts with the utility provider. Our favorite method, this allows you to track the monthly usage, which can be done automatically through some energy management platforms. This method takes a significant amount of upfront work, but after the initial effort of gathering tenant releases, can be easily integrated into your lease-up process.
3. That it is a Challenging Process
Depending on the relationship you have with your tenants, your method of data collection and the type of information you're asking for, you may have a low response rate. It's likely you will need to call your tenants or knock on doors to get the information you need. This is a time consuming project, but one that can be worthwhile!
4. But One That is Totally Possible
It is totally possible to complete this project! If you have trouble with response rates, focus on assuaging concerns regarding access to sensitive information and educating tenants about the benefits energy tracking will have for them may help overcome any resistance to provide utility data. These education efforts can begin with incorporating language into the tenant release form (if applicable), flyers to each tenant or around the building explaining your sustainability initiatives, announcements at tenant meetings, or separate events. You can also incentivize the data collection process with gift cards, free products, etc. Be creative and think about what your tenants value!
5. A 100% Response Rate Is Not Necessary
Depending on your goals, you may not need to collect 100% of your tenants usage. For M&V protocol, for instance, HUD recommends a confidence level of 80% with a precision of 10% when calculating energy savings in a method that complies with IPMVP guidelines. You can download their sampling size table here, which lists various unit counts and the sample size needed to achieve this confidence level.
Want to learn more? We'll be publishing an E-Book on tracking tenant data within the next month. Sign up here and we'll send it to you once we're finished.