Keith Derrington, chief operating officer of Recurrent, which focuses on making buildings energy efficient

The Energy Savers

Rockville-based Recurrent is all about making commercial buildings more energy efficient. The 32-employee company figures out ways to improve heating and cooling systems, automate lighting, and make other changes to streamline operations.

“We try to find the most comprehensive solution and identify the savings,” says Keith Derrington, chief operating officer of Recurrent, which was established in 2013. The upgrades often make the spaces more comfortable for occupants and save thousands of dollars in energy expenses.

One of the best ways to tighten operating expenses is through energy efficiencies, says Robert Eisinger, managing partner of Rock Grove Associates Limited Partners and co-founder of Promark Real Estate Services in Rockville, who has turned to Recurrent for building projects.

Eisinger hired Recurrent in 2016 to oversee energy renovations (completed early this year) for Gaithersburg’s Shady Grove Professional Building and adjacent Shady Grove Comfort Inn, which Rock Grove owns. Derrington says the original 1980s heating and cooling systems were still functioning at the buildings, but new technology provided opportunities for savings, including wireless thermostats and sensors that allow temperatures to be adjusted for rooms not in use, saving electricity.

Derrington says some commercial business owners have been reluctant in the past to invest in energy efficiency projects because they may not own the property long enough to reap the benefits. The Gaithersburg renovation was the first project to use a Montgomery County program called Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE), made possible by state law that took effect in 2014. With C-PACE, there are no upfront costs, and owners repay the cost of the project as a surcharge—which can be stretched up to 20 years—on their property tax bill. The $1.4 million in improvements at the Gaithersburg properties are expected to translate into annual energy savings of about $156,000. Rock Grove is paying back $125,000 a year for the improvements, so the company expects a net savings of $31,000 each year.

Next up for Recurrent are commercial retrofit energy jobs in Rockville and Frederick County, including a comprehensive C-PACE project that will lower energy use by 50 percent for the Exchange Place office building in Rockville. Says Eisinger: “This is the beginning of a wave. All the old structures will be renovated like this.”