After spending more than 20 years mastering the energy business, Jeff Hendler spent 2013 learning all he could about luxury multifamily buildings.
That was when he was tapped by Mack-Cali Realty Corp.'s Roseland subsidiary to study its portfolio in New York and New Jersey. Hendler learned how they were built, how they functioned, how they were managed — all with an eye toward finding savings on energy costs that can total hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single property.
But by the time he was done, he realized it could be a business that extended beyond the Roseland footprint.
It was the birth of Energy Technology Savings, a firm focused on cutting the energy bills of large multifamily owners.
“I'm a person who understands energy costs,” Hendler, the CEO of the Summit-based firm, said. “And my goal for the company … is to demystify the cost of energy, because anyone who opens up an energy bill can't make heads or tails out of it. It's almost as if that's the point.”
ETS audits its clients' buildings, then identifies and implements energy-saving measures. The final step is done through upgraded controls, “smart” sensors and other technologies that make heating, cooling and lighting more efficient in amenity rooms — while allowing building managers to monitor and control energy usage from a tablet.
It also can mean installing batteries to supplement grid power during times of high demand, Hendler said. Such a step can reduce the “peak” usage numbers that utilities use to calculate the customer's share of so-called pipe charges, or fees that go toward upkeep of grid infrastructure, which can account for half of a bill.
Such measures can cut 30 to 40 percent of energy costs, Hendler said, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
“Jeff's business is a business — just like real estate — of saving nickels and dimes to get to half a dollar,” said Brad Klatt, a co-president of Roseland, whose principals co-founded ETS with Hendler.
It's an unexpected but natural role for Hendler, who spent nearly a decade with the Southern Co., an Atlanta-based utility company, and eight years leading the retail energy provider that would ultimately become Genie Energy, before founding ETS.
In 2011, Hendler wanted to focus on building a new business. Enter Klatt — who also happens to be Hendler's first cousin by marriage and tapped him to help Roseland cut its energy usage.
Hendler spent the first nine months in 2013 studying 20 properties owned by the firm and some of its longtime development partners. And he came back with not just a solution for those sites, but a business plan for a service to other property owners.
ETS has since developed its “Fast Trak” service program, in which it evaluates a building and starts to implement energy-saving measures within 90 days. For many of the upgrades, the investment required by the property owner can be recouped in mere months as a result of the savings, according to the company.
ETS is now working on 25 other sites owned by outside developers. And Klatt said its growth plan calls for adding other top, institutional Northeastern owners, starting with one or two properties for each client.
“We really feel that Jeff is so far ahead of the curve in understanding what this is, and being able to train and to really make it work,” Klatt said. “So the more he gets, the more the team implements, the better it gets.”
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THE BIZ IN BRIEF
NAME: Energy Technology Savings
CEO: Jeff Hendler
ONE MORE THING: Finding energy savings can be as simple as changing behavior in the building, Hendler said. For instance, ETS trains the building staff to vacuum during the overnight hours, when electricity is cheaper.