tices and network with private and public partners.”
Shorenstein Properties was one of the first real estate
firms to join in 2011, with a portfolio that spans 24. 8 mil-
lion square feet.
“Every building program provides unique value propo-
sition, but we selected the Better Buildings Challenge
because it presents an opportunity to set an aggressive yet
attainable long-term energy efficiency goal,” explains Jaxon
Love, Sustainability Program Manager. “One of the hardest
things for real estate is deciding which key performance
indicators to use, particularly when there are so many
variables that we don’t have control over, such as weather,
occupancy and operating conditions. This challenge has
helped us zero in on our performance at a technical level
by normalizing these factors.”
Shorenstein’s leadership was also attracted to the
opportunity to collaborate with other leaders. Says
Stan Roualdes, Executive Vice President of Property
Management and Construction: “Sustainability is not just
a competitive edge or an optional business strategy – it’s a
Lasting Energy Efficiency
A key objective for the challenge is to help building
owners and facility managers overcome organizational and
“Despite the opportunities, there remain significant
barriers to energy efficiency,” Vargas acknowledges.
“Organizations may have historically neglected energy
efficiency or haven’t integrated it into their business model
or mission. They could also face a lack of senior buy-in,
complications with financing or an untrained workforce.
Even finding unbiased information about market offerings
can be problematic.”
Keep in mind that most buildings in the challenge aren’t
installing expensive equipment or using complicated tech-
nology to achieve the 20% goal. Many involve low- or no-
cost modifications, the type of retrofits that are straight-
forward to implement. Projects commonly include lighting
upgrades, occupancy sensors, plug load management,
envelope improvements and HVAC retrofits.
“Energy efficiency doesn’t necessary require commit-
ting huge capital resources,” stresses Love. “There are
frequently opportunities to tighten up the efficiency of a
building in a significant way just through better operation.
Low-hanging fruit tends to grow back.”
Michigan State, for example, has over 115 buildings on
campus. The university has an existing building commis-
sioning group that performs energy audits, system adjust-
ments and ongoing monitoring. One recent success has
been eliminating excess supply and exhaust air used, par-
ticularly in older buildings and labs.
“We are capping off fume hoods that are no longer being
used. By taking these out of service, we are saving several
thousands of dollars a year per hood,” notes Lynda Boomer,
Director of Planning, Design and Construction for MSU
Infrastructure Planning and Facilities. “We also have a
number of buildings with concrete plenums that we have
sealed to eliminate leaks.”
“We’re a heavy research campus with wet bench labs
COLLABORATE WITH TENANTS TO
SECURE ENERGY SUCCESS
With over 24 million square feet across the country, Shorenstein Properties is partnering with tenants to find shared energy efficiency. The real estate firm has rolled out a number of programs that encourage occupants to conserve power and prioritize sustainability, notes Jaxon Love, Sustainability Program Manager. .
Watt Watchers is a friendly competition that launched this year. In
order to support the Better Buildings 20% goal, individual facility teams
are challenged to achieve as much energy savings below the previous
year as possible. “Five properties have already realized over 4% improvement over 2014. It’s encouraging to see what the spirit of competition
can do,” says Love.
One success story
comes from 50 California
Street, a 36-story office in
San Francisco (pictured).
While the building already
has an ENERGY STAR
score of 94 and LEED
Gold certification, Property Manager Sheila Murphy and Chief Engineer
Dennis Cornish continued
to hunt for improvements.
They upgraded to a direct
digital control (DDC)
system that controls the
HVAC system at a more
granular level. Once this
retrofit was complete, a
strategy was developed
to control the 60-plus
supply air return fans
and automate them at an
individual level. This functionality produced a 5.8%
reduction over 2014 in
the first six months of this
year, notes Love.
The company also has
a traveling Flip the Switch
program, which provides
tools, knowledge and
technical support to help
tenants improve their
building’s energy effi-
ciency by targeting plug loads. According to Shorenstein’s 2014 Sustain-
ability Report, the tenant energy challenge “I Will if You Will” has saved
an average of 27% from office equipment and computers.
Though facility executives are often engaged in friendly competition
across the portfolio, they are also encouraged to share their best practices. “In 2010, we held an Energy World Tour where our engineering
managers visited all of our properties to examine energy opportunities.
The outcome of this idea exchange was $1.7 million in annual savings,
which was 5% of our portfolio’s energy costs at the time and the equivalent of taking 1,000 homes off the grid,” Love says. “As part of our corporate efficiency strategy, we are replicating this event again this year.”