Smart Solutions

Limbach Company Develops New Partnerships Using AirAdvice Energy Services

Limbach Company uses the BuildingAdvice energy assessment software from AirAdvice to identify a need, recommend improvements, and help clients navigate the path to the ENERGY STAR label, driving business opportunities for Limbach.

Limbach Company uses BuildingAdvice software and sensors to identify energy-saving fixes, helping a Columbus, OH, property management group ensure that its buildings meet ENERGY STAR requirements. That success was the “in” that Limbach needed to secure more opportunities for energy services that may lead to preventive maintenance and retrofit contracts.

Limbach purchased the BuildingAdvice energy services delivery platform from AirAdvice, Inc., in 2011 because, “we wanted to find a way to combine our energy solutions with our proactive maintenance programs,” explained Lisa Schultz, Limbach’s service sales manager for the Ohio Branch. “BuildingAdvice became the solution for our service team. They offered a simple approach along with technical and sales resources,” she said.

Client Need Spurs Assessment

Paradigm Properties, a real estate services company managing a 19-building, 1.7-million-square-foot portfolio in the Columbus area, found they needed a better understanding of their buildings’ energy use. A major tenant, who occupied one third of an entire building, notified Paradigm that they would require that the building achieve the ENERGY STAR label as a condition of their January 2012 lease renewal.

Paradigm “really had no idea where their buildings were, from an energy perspective,” said Steve Bauman, a Limbach account representative. Limbach offered to provide an ENERGY STAR benchmark assessment for the building currently occupied by the tenant and two other nearby buildings to see how the buildings rated.

The building occupied by the tenant rated a 76, just above the level required (75) to achieve the ENERGY STAR label. Even though the other two buildings scored significantly lower and offered more immediate opportunity for operating cost reductions by reducing energy waste, the immediate focus was securing the tenant lease renewal. “Tenant renewal is a great motivator to take action,” said Bauman.

Creating an Action Plan

Limbach and Paradigm developed an action plan to achieve the ENERGY STAR label for the higher performing building, following the energy services delivery model outlined in the BuildingAdvice sales training. After the energy benchmark, the next step in the process was to conduct an energy savings assessment to identify any additional energy savings opportunities.

Using BuildingAdvice energy services shows “how bringing a solution not typically thought of as being part of a mechanical contractor’s domain can drive a significant amount of revenue back into our core service and retrofit business.”

— Jay Sharp, vice president of Limbach Facility Services

The assessment was important because the building’s energy performance was just over the minimum requirement. Any slippage in performance and the building would be at risk for not meeting the minimum requirement.

Limbach conducted the energy savings assessment using the BuildingAdvice wireless sensors and web-based software. They identified a number of low- and no-cost improvements that could be immediately implemented by in-house maintenance staff.

Once the recommendations were implemented, Limbach initiated the process to gain the ENERGY STAR label for the building. Following the award of the ENERGY STAR label in early 2012, the tenant signed a seven-year lease. As of May 2012, the building’s ENERGY STAR rating had already improved to 86, and the annual energy cost had dropped by nearly $25,000, a reduction of 17 percent.

Results Drive Business

Through this process, Limbach demonstrated the impact that an energy services approach can have on the customer relationship. “Because we were able to solve a business issue for them in a way that none of our competitors could, we were able to move from being one of many contractors fighting for a preventive maintenance contract to the role of a trusted advisor,” said Bauman.

Thanks to that relationship, Limbach is currently completing an energy benchmark analysis of the entire Paradigm portfolio. From there, the two companies will build out an action plan to determine which buildings will be the next to undergo an energy savings assessment. To get the most out of the partnership, Limbach hopes to combine the assessment with the preventive maintenance agreements. Bauman noted, “While we know that there may not be a good fit with all the buildings, we are going to do whatever we can to help Paradigm lower their energy costs. Due to the consultative role we’ve played to get to this point, we have developed a new partnership that we would not have had without using the energy services approach that AirAdvice gave us.”

Jay Sharp, vice president of Limbach Facility Services, explained the strategic importance of the energy services initiative. “This shows the power of a differentiated service message—how bringing a solution not typically thought of as being part of a mechanical contractor’s domain can drive a significant amount of revenue back into our core service and retrofit business,” he said.

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