In push for energy efficiency, the commercial tenant gets spotlight

A new program focusing on a commercial tenant's energy consumption could lead to dramatically reduced energy costs in the near future.

Commercial real estate companies have been striving to improve their buildings' energy footprint for decades, but now the focus is shifting toward what tenants can contribute. 

Green Biz reported the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is partnering up with New York University's Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) to spearhead an initiative that will collect and analyze data regarding energy use among commercial tenants.

Nearly 41 percent of the total energy consumption in the U.S. is attributed to buildings, not to mention their 40 percent share of carbon pollution. Given this statistic, commercial property managers have significant incentives to improve their building's overall energy consumption. In that regard, there is no shortage of ways to go about it, whether they pursue an Energy Star rating from the Environmental Protection Agency or employ one of numerous energy management solutions. However, commercial tenants account for more than half of a building's energy consumption, yet there are few systems geared toward the tenant. In fact, almost no tenants know how they fair when compared to their neighbors because the data simply isn't collected or leveraged, according to Green Biz. 

To address this niche and empower businesses to make energy consumption changes that improve their bottom line as well as their performance, CBRE has launched the Real Green Research Challenge, and has selected a number of projects for the challenge, including the NRDC's Center for Market Innovation. As a result, tenant and building owners can work together to collectively reduce their energy consumption. 

Another initiative for tenants
Building off of the recognition surrounding the Energy Star rating, the TENANT STAR program is designed to rate and document energy performance in leased commercial spaces, as well as rewarding tenants who meet or surpass expectations, according to NRDC's blog.

Originally introduced in S.1191, as known as the "Better Building's Act" pioneered by Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican from New Hampshire, the TENANT STAR program is backed by over 60 private sector building industry leaders and environmental advocates alike. 

While ENERGY STAR certified buildings saved more than $2.7 billion in utility bills in 2012, coupled with the TENANT STAR program, that energy savings could more than double. NRDC's Center for Market Innovation has also thrown its support behind the TENANT STAR program, citing that such comprehensive, data-driven approaches to energy efficiency work. Also, businesses that perform well can use that performance data as a marketing tool to increase their business relationships. 

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