10.2%

Increase

in Limbach’s construction segment gross profit in 2020

10.5%

Growth

in Limbach's service revenue in 2020

50%

Target

Limbach’s 5-year outlook aims to increase their maintenance/service business (as opposed to new construction or renovation) to 50% from 22.4% in 2020


The Path to Drawdown: Building Automation Systems

Buildings and construction were the source of 38% of global CO2 emissions and 35% of total energy use. Much of the energy used in buildings is the result of heating and air-conditioning, lighting, information and communications systems, security and access systems, fire alarms, elevators, appliances, and indirectly through plumbing.

Most large commercial buildings in industrialized countries have some type of centralized, computer-based building management system that monitors, evaluates, and controls these systems. That centralized management is called a building automation system. Building automation systems use sensors to constantly scan and rebalance energy use to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. New buildings can be equipped with a building automation system from the start, and old ones can be retrofitted to incorporate it and reap its benefits. 

Adopting automated, rather than manual, building management systems can result in over 20% more efficient heating and cooling, and 8% more efficient energy use for light, appliances, etc. 

Today, the adoption of building automation systems varies widely by country. Project Drawdown estimates that, for building automation systems to make a significant dent in global emissions, their adoption needs to grow particularly rapidly in developing countries:

  • In 2018, over 75% of buildings in some high-income countries were managed by automated systems while some developing regions had not adopted them at all. 
  • By 2050, if building automation systems are adopted by 100% of commercial buildings in OECD countries, 80% in China, and 50% in all other regions, they can help avoid up to 10.48 gigatons of CO2 emissions.

About

Limbach Holdings, Inc. (stock ticker: LMB) is an integrated building systems solutions firm whose expertise is the design, installation, management, service, and maintenance of HVAC, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and control systems. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Limbach has 22 offices across the United States.

LMB's Role in Drawdown

Limbach’s building automation systems service consists of four components:

  • Building automation that gives customers the ability to monitor and control critical facility systems, enhance energy efficiency, upgraded technology while protecting past investments, gather facility and asset data that helps continuous improvement, compliance reporting and analytics
  • Data analytics and consulting, helping customers to transition from reactive to proactive maintenance activities and failure prediction, redeploy maintenance assets, and immediately respond to and prioritize alarms and events
  • System integration, enabling data sharing between systems like HVAC, lighting, life safety and security to enhance building operations, integrating multiple buildings to a common software platform, and streamlining operations
  • Energy management solutions, which apply modeling and analytics to save energy, water and money, reduce carbon footprint and increase sustainability, and pay for facility upgrades with energy savings

All together, their products and services help their customers considerably reduce their energy usage and thus their carbon footprint. 

Limbach’s customer base primarily consists of general contractors and construction managers, building owners and their representatives in a wide range of sectors (p. 5). These sectors include healthcare, education, sports and entertainment, infrastructure, government, hospitality, commercial, multi-family apartments, mission critical facilities (including data centers), and industrial manufacturing facilities.

LMB: What We Like

Limbach’s five-year growth strategy primarily includes shifting their customer base from general contractors to building owners. This shift would mean Limbach would concentrate on maintenance or services for HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems, building controls and specialty contracting projects, rather than managing new construction or renovation projects. We encourage this shift as it would increase building retrofitting and enhance the energy efficiency of buildings.

LMB: What We Want to See Improve

Track GHG Emissions


Right now, Limbach doesn’t report any sustainability metrics. We would like to see them track and report several key indicators: overall direct and indirect GHG emissions, amount of emissions avoided through Limbach’s services, and the sources of their energy use. Once these are tracked, investors and stakeholders can hold the company accountable, and Limbach can then set specific targets for cutting their emissions toward zero.

Diversify Customers


Limbach notes (p. 12) that they’re dependent on a handful of customers that account for a substantial portion of their revenue. In their construction segment, for example, a single customer accounted for ~14% of consolidated total revenue in 2020. To become resilient against disruptions in demand, we urge Limbach to diversify their customer base.

Enhance Supplier Transparency


Limbach is transparent on who their largest customers are, but is mute when it comes to their suppliers. We want to see more transparency on their supplier base so that investors can start to evaluate the carbon footprint of their supply chain.

Other Building Automation Stocks in the Climate Index

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