Energy Management Teams Swap Places in New Reality Series

Friday, March 11th, 2016

To outsiders, the topics of HVAC and home and commercial energy audits can be snooze-inducing.

So what better way to spice things up than a reality show highlighting smart energy management and energy-efficient buildings?

The Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Initiative recently launched the reality-style web series, “Better Buildings Challenge SWAP.” It carries the premise of two energy-management teams with very different corporate cultures that switch places, spending time at each other’s facilities to uncover opportunities to save energy and money.

In this first season, which launched in February, a straight-laced team from Hilton Worldwide swaps places with a more laid-back, granola-crunchy group from Whole Foods Market.

The Hilton team applies their expertise to a 25,600 square foot grocery store, the Whole Foods Ocean Avenue in San Francisco. Meanwhile, the Whole Foods trio inspects the 1.8 million square foot Hilton San Francisco Union Square hotel.

“Healthy competition, along with a free exchange of ideas, has long been an essential part of energy innovation,” said Lynn Orr, the DOE’s Under Secretary for Science and Energy. “Such an exchange created by the Energy Department provided a way for these leading corporations – which are already accomplished in energy management – to rethink some of their standard practices and push each other to do even better.”

The reality series has already led to some improvements at both organizations. The Hilton team has upgraded some of their lighting to LEDs, replaced leaky door gaskets and replaced older appliances with new high-efficiency equipment. Whole Foods says it is considering adopting some of the employee engagement strategies used by Hilton.

You can check out the series at the Better Buildings Challenge web page or on YouTube.