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GOING GREEN IN TIMES OF LEAN

Nate Delman; EnviroTech Market Watch


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With energy prices at a relative low for two consecutive seasons, many would have believed that lower heating costs would knock some of the wind out of the burgeoning green movement that has dominated the real estate sector in recent years. Market analysts and green advocates however, are touting this year as a record year of growth in terms of energy reduction programs and efficiency product sales.

Simon Soloff is the VP of Marketing and Sales at New Jersey based EnTech Digital Controls, a featured company at last year’s GreenBuildingsNY expo and a certified NYSERDA affiliate. EnTech’s flagship product, the Virtual Remote 500 is an industry-leading boiler control and monitoring system. Utilizing advanced web-based technology, the system has been known to cut energy consumption in multi-unit buildings by a full 35%. Soloff says his company’s dramatic sales this heating season actually came as a surprise considering where oil prices stood.
“I wish I could say it’s all about concern for the environment,” Simon says. “But, you can’t quite overlook the savings. Thirty-five percent is a considerable sum of money no matter where energy prices are. I like to tell customers that in this case, doing something good for the environment actually pays for itself. Let’s face it. Installing one of our computer systems requires a substantial short-term investment. I think that the good feeling of knowing that you’re doing something positive for the world’s ecosystem is an added incentive for landlords to go ahead with it. The system has return-on-investment of just one or two seasons, so essentially it’s like helping the environment without any real financial outlay.”  
Irving Gold, President of All City Realty Group chose this season to retrofit his entire real estate portfolio’s heating systems with EnTech’s VR-500 computer. Mr. Gold, a respected industry leader known for his hands-on approach to management, says he sees the temporary reprieve in energy prices as an opportunity to invest in his properties. “I think savvy landlords are utilizing their increased cash flow for capital improvements. We all know that oil won’t stay below fifty dollars forever. An efficient heating system significantly increases a property’s value in the long term. I find EnTech’s remote monitoring to be an invaluable asset in boosting tenant satisfaction. They share my passion for maximizing efficiency and maintaining a property at peak performance. The monitoring service also takes a significant burden off the management. I honestly don’t know how any landlord can afford to do without it.”
Irving is referring to EnTech’s in-house monitoring service, a premium annual service that has EnTech’s in-house technicians actively control the building’s heat and hot water directly from headquarters. Eric, Director of Operations at EnTech, says most landlords opt to have the company provide monitoring and control once the system is in. “We strongly recommend the service. The VR-500 computer is very sophisticated piece of equipment with an infinite amount of capabilities and setting options. We created the system, so naturally we know how to optimize its functionality to the fullest.
“In recent months we’ve greatly expanded the computer’s capabilities and versatility with regard to complex rule sets and multiple overrides. These are patented features not available in the standard heat computers on the market. We’ll sit down with the management and set up a monitoring plan based upon the unique objectives for the property. A large-scale property with a single centralized boiler can be optimized to provide different heat levels for different areas in the building. After servicing the building for several weeks, we’ll come back to management with a list of suggestions based upon our observations and analyses of the system’s performance.”
Landlords can securely log in to their building and literally “see” the techniques being implemented at their property. The EnTech site shows a virtual image of a building with windows indicating the interior temperatures inside specific apartments. The innovative e-lert feature utilizes intelligent data analysis to tell landlords about things like open windows and even offers solutions as to how to work around problem areas in the building.
EnTech’s patented FuelTrak module released last winter literally took the industry by storm. This unique ultrasonic oil gauge gives landlords an x-ray view inside their oil-tank right from their desktop. “Landlords took to this product like a kid takes to the latest computer game,” says Eric. “There’s an element of fun in being able to watch the oil level and observe consumption gallon-for-gallon.”
Speaking of the environment, Eric points out how active monitoring helps promote conservation by detecting inefficiencies in the system such as oil leaks and corroding supply and return lines. “Things like clogged chimneys, faulty burners and redundant cycling, aside from being a drain on the wallet, are also offensive to the environment.” He estimates that over the years, the company has spared the environment some 200 million gallons of oil and somewhere around 250 million therms in natural gas. “I think that’s something we can be proud of,” Eric says with a pretentious grin.
“At this point,” he says, “I believe it’s only a matter of time before every multi-unit building will be controlled by computer.”
EnTech Digital Controls is headquartered on the New Jersey Shore and services the entire East Coast. For an on-site evaluation call 1-732-730-1595 or visit them on the web at www.entechdigital.com.

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