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6 Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Energy Audit + Water Audit + Retro-Commissioning (RCx)

Vert Energy Group has been involved with many Energy Audit & Retro-Commissioning (RCx) local laws, such as those in New York City and San Francisco. Our goal is to help our clients comply with these laws in the most cost-effective way possible, while also achieving the highest ROI.


The following are 6 common pitfalls we've seen building owners face, and what you can do to avoid them. Let us know if you have any questions:

#1. Not Budgeting for All Costs

Don't forget about the RCx Corrections.

Hiring a qualified engineering firm is the first step to comply with the EBEWE Ordinance requirements. However, this is usually not the only cost involved. Reason being, the EBEWE Ordinance requires that Retro-Commissioning (RCx) be performed according to ASHRAE Commissioning Guidelines. This often involves additional costs to correct deficiencies identified in the RCx Study (phase 1). RCx Implementation (phase 2) can cost anywhere from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands.

Solution: Prior to starting the project, work with your engineering firm to create a Compliance Plan & Budget to avoid hidden costs and surprises.  

National Average Costs:

  • ASHRAE Level 2 Energy Audit: $0.10-$0.20/sq.ft.

  • Water Audit: $0.02-$0.05/sq.ft.

  • Retro-Commissioning (RCx): $0.13-$0.45/sq.ft.

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#2. Starting Too Late

Start at Least 18 Months Before the Deadline.

Many building owners take on more risk than they need to when starting the Audit & RCx projects too late. Starting too late (within 12 months of the deadline) typically increases the overall costs and hassle, primarily because the biggest unknown factor is the amount of RCx Corrections that will need to be made. Also, because some testing has to be done seasonally (in summer and winter separately).


Solution: Give yourself at least 18 months before the deadline to avoid overpaying for rushed services and/or receiving a violation. 

#3. The “Energy Audit Tax”

Plan to Get a Return on Investment. 

Every year, building owners spend thousands of dollars on Energy Audits to comply with local laws. This expense is often seen as just another tax, as opposed to an opportunity to save money, so they take no action on the recommendations made in the Energy Audit report. 

Solution: Plan to make cost-effective energy-saving improvements by setting a minimum threshold (e.g. retrofits with a 3-year payback or less). There are also several $0 down energy financing programs available. 

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#4. Missed Opportunities. 

Missing Out on Exemptions and/or Discounted Services. 

One of the biggest pitfalls we've seen is building owners paying for services they don't need at all, when they could have received an exemption instead. Also, owners often overpay for services by not taking advantage of "Early Compliance Discounts" to reduce the engineering and/or RCx Implementation costs offered by some vendors. 


Solution: Identify all applicable exemption opportunities + ask vendors what discounts they offer and when they expire. 

#5. Paying Too Much

Know What to Ask for in a Proposal.

In addition to missing out on the "Early Compliance Discounts" mentioned above, many building owners pay too much for services because they are not aware of hidden costs in some proposals. Some vendors may give free value-added services, such as free Benchmarking, while other vendors may exclude some necessary services from their scope of work, such as Functional Testing. As a result, the lowest bid may end up costing the most in the end, so it's important to know what to ask for in a proposal and do a clean apples-to-apples comparison. 

Solution: Ask all vendors what other costs may be incurred, outside of their scope of work. Also, place a dollar amount on the value of certain value-added benefits to YOU, such as Penalty Protection Guarantees, Price Guarantees & other free services included. 

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#6. No Long-Term Compliance Plan

Reduce Risks and Costs with a Portfolio-Wide, 5-Year Compliance Plan.

The last pitfall is common to about 95% of companies we talk to: Having an unclear, or no long-term Compliance Plan for each building. Beyond knowing what year each building is due, you also want to know what exemptions you can target, an estimate of how much the RCx Corrections will cost, and when the Ideal Start Date should be. Not having a Compliance Plan exposes owners to much more risks than is necessary (e.g. higher costs + risk of being fined).

Solution: Work with a qualified engineering firm to identify the key factors to include in a Compliance Plan and request assistance with creating a customized plan for your properties. Vert Energy Group can do this for free. 

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