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NY Energy State of Mind: Public authority selects energy efficiency showcase office space

Wendy Fok

Posted November 27, 2013 in Green Enterprise, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

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In a move that demonstrates that tenant demand for energy efficient buildings is stronger than ever, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) recently signed a lease for its New York City office at 1359 Broadway, an ENERGY STAR® top performing building.   

NRDC’s Center for Market Innovation provided guidance to NYSERDA during the site selection process with energy performance in mind, and is already working with NYSERDA’s energy efficiency team to compare energy performance options in early schematic design.   The space—which spans the building’s 19th floor and totals over 21,000 square feet—will house important New York entities that are collaborating to drive energy efficiency and clean energy innovation—including NYSERDA and the New York Green Bank.  When complete, the space will be a dynamic showcase of market-based best practices and replicable cost-effective, energy-efficient tenant space solutions.   

The pre-war building was selected in large part for its owner’s willingness to cooperate with tenants to build out energy-efficient, high-performance spaces.  The owner, Empire State Realty Trust, has a strong reputation for energy efficiency and sustainability leadership, and is well known for its deep retrofit of the Empire State Building, which helped the iconic skyscraper cut its energy usage by 38%, for a savings of $4.4 million a year.  

 The lease deal shows that everyday office buildings—not just famous real estate—can attract the best tenants by using strong energy management practices.  And it will show other tenants and buildings how it can be done.

 Energy-Efficient Tenant Spaces Save Money and Increase Asset Value

The U.S. commercial office sector spends more than $20 billion annually on energy, with typically half of a building’s total energy use consumed in tenant spaces.  As tenants and investors are placing higher values on energy-efficient buildings through tenants’ occupancy decisions, rent premiums and enhanced real estate asset valuation, a powerful opportunity exists for real estate owners to capture benefits by improving the performance of individual buildings and across portfolios. 

New York, which has the largest real estate market in the nation with over 1.1 billion square feet of commercial office space, has the potential to encourage more private sector action and lead massive energy-efficiency market transformation by providing a compelling economic case. 

The new NYSERDA New York office space does just that, and will help advance a statewide program to align efforts between tenants and building owners during design, construction, and occupancy of leased space, to significantly increase cost-effective energy efficiency in commercial buildings. 

 Partnership with NYSERDA

Our engagement with NYSERDA marks the initiation of a partnership to drive tenant energy efficiency. The NYSERDA New York City office is the latest to join CMI’s High Performance Tenant Demonstration Project, an initiative in close partnership with Goldman Sachs to accelerate energy efficiency in buildings through an integrated return on investment approach.  This means that not only did we help them find the space, but we are also working closely with NYSERDA’s internal team of efficiency experts to design the space to take full advantage of its energy efficiency potential.  Another “how-to” guide we released last year is serving as our guide for the next phase and—you guessed it—other tenants can also use it to do the same after they move into a new space: Energy Performance Optimization Guide.

 Through the energy optimization process outlined in that guide, we will use a set of energy performance measures--including natural day lighting, efficient lighting, optimized HVAC and outlet plug load reduction, and multi-system controls--to target energy and cost savings of 30-50% compared to a standard tenant space. With a 3-5 year payback period and annual return of more than 25%, this project will serve as an example of how the process is an attainable economic and environmental model for every new tenant space constructed. 

Let’s hear it for New York! It’s certainly an exciting time to be scaling energy efficiency in buildings here in the Empire State. 

Find more about how to select high-performance tenant space here: http://www.nrdc.org/business/cgi/resources.asp

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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