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Greg Hale’s Blog

Clinton Global Initiative Progress Report

Greg Hale

Posted October 2, 2012

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The built environment accounts for around 40% of the energy consumed in the United States. And in dense metropolitan areas like New York City, that figure approaches 80%. NRDC’s Center for Market Innovation (CMI) is working on a range of projects aimed at substantially reducing existing buildings’ energy consumption. At last year’s Clinton Global Initiative Conference in New York, CMI joined President Clinton onstage to announce the launch of our High Performance Tenant Demonstration Project. The Project is designed to accelerate market demand for better performing, energy efficient commercial tenant spaces, which in turn will spur demand for energy efficiency improvements to whole buildings. Driving demand for cost effective, high performance tenant build-outs and base building retrofits will significantly reduce energy consumption in the built environment, reduce operating costs for building owners and occupants, provide more comfortable and productive workplaces, and in the process, reduce carbon emissions and create new jobs.

This year’s CGI Conference featured our project once again, this time in the form of a progress report video. The video opened the Women and the Built Environment: Designing for Opportunity session.

The theme of the 2012 CGI Annual Meeting was Designing for Impact, and our High Performance Demonstration Project is doing just that.

With our team of experts, we are putting words into action by directly engaging in the tenant design process, to incorporate cost effective energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality (collectively, “high performance”) measures into the layout, design, and construction of tenant spaces. Our process begins with a collaborative energy innovation session with the tenant, the building owner and their respective design and engineering teams. We then apply energy modeling and incremental costing to generate a financial value analysis of potential high performance measures for each individual space (whether tenant premises or whole building). Finally, we measure and document the actual energy performance after the space is occupied. CMI is undertaking this Demonstration Project to prove out the economic case for including various energy performance measures in the tenant build-out process. We will then publicize all Project data, alongside a process roadmap and open source value-analysis tools, for others to use to replicate the procedure. By bringing others to understand why, but equally as importantly how, to incorporate cost effective high performance measures into the design and construction of tenant spaces, we aim to make high performance build-outs a standard market practice.

Our process targets 30-50% energy savings compared to a standard, code-compliant tenant build-out, with a 3-5 year payback on modest incremental costs. We are already working with a number of forward thinking companies that are currently building out new tenant spaces, including Bloomberg LP, Ernst & Young, LinkedIn, Reed Smith, COTY and Li & Fung (USA), to facilitate the incorporation of energy conservation measures into their respective designs, and to quantify, document and publish the consequent energy savings.

And we are beginning to see results. By working with the tenants’ respective design, engineering and construction teams, we are familiarizing them with the process. Several of these firms have already brought additional build-outs for other clients to our attention. Over the next twelve months, CMI will complete our engagement with our current roster of tenants and will dive into a second round of build-out projects. In so doing, we will continue to demonstrate the value of the high performance build-out process to major architectural, engineering, interior construction and tenant rep firms, all of whom we intend to enlist (along with the participating tenants, of course) to help us communicate our results and spread the high performance build-out practice.

Along with our technical partners Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle, Malkin Holdings, and SKANSKA, CMI is laying the groundwork to transform the tenant build-out market. We thank Goldman Sachs and the Rockefeller Foundation for the funding that keeps our project moving forward.

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