Leased spaces pose a challenge for property management when it comes to energy efficiency. Depending on how utility costs are dispersed, occupants may have little motivation to reduce their kilowatt consumption. But Shorenstein Properties has introduced a program that empowers tenants to save energy and greenhouse gases – a move that has resulted in up to 45% energy savings.
The “I Will If You Will” challenge was piloted at the end of 2013 with two buildings and four tenants. Part of the company’s Flip the Switch tenant engagement program, the competition provides participants with an outlet monitoring device that wirelessly transmits real-time data to an online dashboard.
A baseline for energy use was established for the week prior to the challenge. Users then reduced plug and vampire loads by turning off common office equipment after business hours, such as computers, monitors, and printers.
“It’s a prepackaged employee sustainability challenge we can hand over directly to tenants. They also receive assistance from our property management staff during the three-month period,” explains Jaxon Love, sustainability program manager for Shorenstein. “The efficiency strategies are simple but require a behavior change from occupants – mostly shutting off computers and other devices such as task lighting and printers at the end of the day.”
Participants logged into a common portal to review their individual energy usage. Shorenstein also used periodic reporting throughout the challenge, drawing from the collected data to outline progress from the baseline. Occupants were rewarded with a gift card raffle or pizza party to sustain their motivation.
While office equipment was the main target, the challenge also revealed savings in an overlooked area – the breakroom.
“One significant opportunity we keep uncovering is water coolers and coffee pots. No one tends to be responsible for these devices, yet they waste energy when left on at the end of the day and over the weekend,” says Love. “We install a plug load timer, which is a simple device you can easily find for $10 to 15 at any big box retailer or online. The timer automatically turns off equipment during unoccupied hours. This automates the savings by taking the human factor out of the equation.”
Shorenstein rolled out the energy challenge company-wide in January 2014, engaging 30 leasees across nearly 1 million square feet of office space.
“Tenant engagement requires planning and creativity,” says Love. “I’ve had peers say it’s a lot of effort for a relatively small amount of energy savings upfront. But we look at it as a way to enhance tenant satisfaction and foster a culture of sustainability in our buildings, which will enable deeper savings in the long term.”