Commercial Real Estate

Commercial Real Estate

Commercial real estate properties represent nearly 15 billion square feet of floorspace. These properties consume more than 17% of all commercial building energy use and spend more than $30 billion annually on energy. Through the Better Buildings Alliance's commercial real estate sector group, 51 partners who own, lease, or manage over 6.6 billion square feet of commercial space, equivalent to 40% of the commercial real estate market floorspace, are sharing best practices, and engaging with technical experts to advance their energy savings goals.

Create Sustainable Landlord-Tenant Relationships: Green Lease Leaders
Save on Lighting Energy Costs: Connect with the Interior Lighting Campaign
Try Proven Energy Strategies: Learn from Partner Implementation Models
Get Started with Sustainability: Foundations of Efficiency Programs
Join the Better Buildings Alliance

Team up with DOE’s exceptional network of staff and technical experts to determine energy savings goals, develop innovative cost effective energy solutions, and deploy efficient technologies and market practices.

The 2020 Summit is Going Virtual

The Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit is transitioning to a virtual leadership symposium, taking place June 8-11, 2020. Experience 4 days of sessions, workshops, recognition, and more with industry experts and peers.

COVID-19 Resource Center

Dealing with COVID-19 presents an unprecedented scenario for building owners, plant managers, and employees. Better Buildings has collected resources from partners, affiliates, and other organizations that may prove useful.

Featured Solutions

Columbia Association developed an RTU replacement plan and basis fo design specification for its building portfolio leading to the identification and installation of more than 40 cost-effective, high-performance RTUs, helping reach its 20% energy reduction goal.
Shorenstein carried out several energy efficiency measures at Market Square, including HVAC and LED lighting upgrades which saved 40% in energy use. These upgrades to the base building helped insure that tenants were moving into a highly efficient building.
Park Place Showcase Project
LBA Realty completed an ambitious redevelopment project that includes multiple energy-efficiency measures such as upgrades to the building’s central plant and installation of a 1.3-MW intelligent energy storage system, along with enhancements to building entries, landscaping, common areas, and on-site amenities.
Anthem implemented a landscaping redesign plan to reduce water demand and create a more resilient environment at the 21555 Oxnard Street campus in Woodland Hills, CA, which reduced its water demand by 46 percent annually.
799 Market Street Showcase Project
Jamestown executed a modest capital improvement plan at 799 Market Street which included improvements to increase energy and water efficiency in the building, a lobby redesign, addition of bike storage and upgrades to common areas to increase the building’s appeal to technology sector tenants.
The Tower Companies updated its standard lease agreements to include a green appendix that 100% of new and renewed tenants accepted, supporting efforts to reduce energy and water use across its commercial portfolio.
Blair Office Building Showcase Project
The Tower Companies updated systems at a 1960's era, Class C office building without a BAS to improve energy performance by more than 20%.
50 California Street Showcase Project
Shorenstein Realty Services upgraded to Direct Digital Controls, modified setpoints, installed variable frequency drives, and upgraded to LEDs at a 735,000 square foot office building in San Francisco.
Tower has taken its water management program to the next level with daily reporting, 15-minute interval data, real-time alerts, advanced data analytics, setpoint modifications, and internal water audits that have resulted in signifigant water consumption savings.
To better understand resident energy use and efficiency behaviors, Lendlease piloted a Building Energy Management System (BEMS) at a military housing community, and has since installed BEMS in nearly 4,500 homes, anticipating 16% electricity savings.
LBNL and UC Berkeley discussed potential inventions to properly account for energy factors in the lending process and JDM Associates shared what's new with Energy Matters!, a training course for commercial appraisers, and efforts to engage the lending community on appraisals for high-performing buildings.
This toolkit provides energy resources and energy project case studies for building owners and developers to take advantage of commercial PACE for new construction.
In 2019, The Tower Companies (“Tower”) installed the largest rooftop solar PV system on a mid-century multifamily building in Montgomery County, Maryland. The 122-kW installation reduces almost 10% of the overall operating costs at Blair House.

Other Resources

Briefing Document

This concept brief is intended for commercial real estate organizations that are interested in learning about revolving loan funds (RLF) for energy efficiency or renewable energy projects.


Presentation on successful strategies to engage tenants in energy efficiency.
The decision guides found in this resource were created to help building owners find the right control strategy for PPLs in their buildings.
This guide is intended for anyone investigating the addition of energy storage to a single or multiple commercial buildings. 

Implementation Model

Transwestern adopted sustainability best practices and minimum standards for energy efficiency for all its office and industrial buildings resulting in an 8% performance increase in energy and water operations.


This document introduces the key elements to consider in making the business case for a proactive high-efficiency RTU replacement strategy for facility maintenance staff and building engineers responsible for energy management.
This guide explores the benefits, barriers, and strategies to installing solar on leased buildings, including commercial real estate.

Showcase Projects

1001 Pennsylvania Avenue Showcase Project
Nuveen Real Estate and the Hines property team identified a series of no- and low-cost strategies, including updates to the EMS, an upgrade to direct digital controls, installation of VFDs, and a lighting retrofit to reduce energy consumption at this 835,000 square foot property by 35%.
1300 East Rochelle Showcase Project
1300 East Rochelle is a Sprint-owned and CBRE-managed general business use office building located in Irving, TX that significantly reduced energy use by installing high efficiency chillers, adding economizers and demand control ventilation, and upgrading lighting.
By upgrading toilets and urinals, replacing aerators and adjusting the frequency of sidewalk cleanings, Nuveen Real Estate reduced water consumption by 36% at this property.
1800 K Street Showcase Project
DWS's 1800 K Street is a 224,865-square-foot mixed-use office and retail building originally constructed in 1969. In 2011, DWS commenced a building repositioning project with an emphasis on energy efficiency, air quality, and tenant comfort.
801 Brickell Showcase Project
Nuveen Real Estate identified no-cost/low-cost and capital measures to enhance building HVAC controls, perform water balancing for the HVAC system, install and adjust VFDs, and implement lighting retrofits. The projects reduced energy use by 32% and yielded an overall payback period of 2.7 year and an ROI of 37%.
815 Connecticut Avenue Showcase Project
815 Connecticut Avenue, a 12 story office building with a first floor retail level, was originally constructed in 1964 that was re-established as a trophy class office building. The multi-phase project involved a major replacement of the chiller plant, replacing the building façade, upgrading lighting and other ECMs.
Brookhollow Central I Showcase Project
This 212,000 square foot office building in Texas underwent an extensive renovation that included upgrades to improve energy performance such as a high efficiency curtainwall, a new EMS, and high efficiency HVAC controls. 
The CommonWealth Partners property management team began planning to retrofit the Cottonwood Corporate Center in 2012, despite the fact that the building already had an ENERGY STAR® score of 94. The entire project was assessed and implemented with the mindset of not just increasing energy efficiency, but also making sure not to sacrifice performance for the building’s tenants.
The JBG Companies upgraded aging building systems at the 836,500 square foot L’Enfant Plaza East in Washington, DC to achieve 31% energy savings and annual cost savings of $920,000.
One Orlando Centre Showcase Project
Parkway Properties was able to achieve annual energy savings of 18% and reduce energy costs by almost $67,000 through chiller replacements and upgrading the building automation system.
Palisades Office Park Showcase Project
Shorenstein identified several no-and-low cost ECMs at this four-building office park in Georgia as part of its national Energy Savings Tour that included upgrading garage lighting, installing LEDs, and adding VFDs.
Pennzoil Place Showcase Project
Transwestern worked with building owner Metropolis at this 2-tower office property in Houston, Texas to identify and implement several energy savings upgrades including rebuilding the cooling tower, installing new chillers, conducting a lighting retrofit, replacing the HVAC system, revamping the alarm system, and retooling the building access system.
Prologis worked with Johnson Controls, Inc. to identify a range of energy savings opportunities, including a comprehensive lighting upgrade, HVAC system re-commissioning, and a 200 kW net-metered rooftop solar array. Implementation began in March 2013 with a scheduled duration of 4-5 months. The project is utilizing bill-neutral financing through the San Francisco GreenFinance SF PACE program to fund improvements.
PNC faced the technical challenge of designing a branch that generates at least as much energy as it consumes. For this project, PNC decided to push the boundaries of its existing, high performance buildings.
The Millennium Building Showcase Project
The Tower Companies' Millennium Building is a commercial office building located on the premiere corner of Washington D.C.'s Golden Triangle business district. The building as a result of energy efficiency upgrades in 2009 has saved the company 20% in energy savings and over $200,000 in cost savings.
Supreme Sports Club Showcase Project
Supreme Sports Club is a 100,000-square-foot, 24-hour fitness facility in Columbia, Maryland, and is Columbia Association’s most energy intensive facility. Building renovations, lighting retrofits, and mechanical upgrades have been implemented to reduce overall energy consumption while improving member experience.

Additional Information

ISO 50001 Energy Management Standard
A proven approach for U.S. industrial and commercial facilities to continually improve energy performance. This powerful new standard from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provides an internationally recognized framework for organizations to voluntarily implement an energy management system.

U.S. EPA Guidelines for Energy Management
A proven strategy for energy management developed by the U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR program.

Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) BetterBricks
NEEA’s repository of resources and tools for improving the operations and performance of buildings.

ENERGY STAR Building Upgrade Manual
A strategic manual designed to assist building owners and managers to design and implement energy performance measures in commercial buildings.

Advanced Energy Retrofit Guides
The Advanced Energy Retrofit Guides (AERGs) were created to help decision makers plan, design, and implement energy improvement projects in their facilities. Guides are available for office buildings, warehouses and retail buildings.

Advanced Energy Design Guides
Created by ASHRAE and its partners, the Advanced Energy Design Guides for 50% Savings offer designers and contractors the tools needed for achieving a 50% energy savings compared to buildings that meet the minimum requirements of Standard 90.1-2004.

DOE 179D Tax Deduction Eligibility Calculator
A DOE approved tool that provides calculations to determine eligibility for the 179D federal tax deduction as a substitute for other modeling software. The 179D DOE Calculator provides pre-simulated results to determine qualification for both the partial and interim compliance pathways.

DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency)
A comprehensive database of incentives, rebates and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States.

Successes in Sustainability: Landlords and Tenants Team Up to Improve Energy Efficiency
An ENERGY STAR report featuring case studies of successful commercial real estate owners, managers, and tenants who are working together to achieve maximum energy performance in their buildings.

Webinar: Successes in Sustainability: Landlords and Tenants Team Up to Improve Energy Efficiency
An ENERGY STAR webinar featuring Kilroy Realty and Beacon Capital Partners, who share best practices for engaging tenants on energy efficiency.

8 Great Strategies to Engage Tenants
In this slide presentation, ENERGY STAR partners share innovative and effective strategies to engage tenants in energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives.

Technology Performance Exchange
The Technology Performance Exchange will establish a web-based portal and accompanying database that allows technology suppliers to submit product performance data that private and public sector end users can use to make fact-based procurement decisions.

Commercial Buildings Resource Database
The database provides resources developed by the Building Technologies Office and its partners. Building owners and operators can use this centralized collection of materials produced from DOE's commercial buildings research to design, build, and upgrade their facilities.

GSA Green Proving Ground (GPG)
Summary and reports for energy efficiency technologies evaluated by the U.S. General Services Administration Green Proving Ground (GPG) Program.

PNNL Rooftop Unit Comparison Calculator
A web-based, easy-to-use life-cycle cost calculator comparing standard rooftop units (RTUs) with high-efficiency models.

Federal Energy Management Program Technology Deployment
The federal technology deployment evaluation process, matrix, and recommendations of technologies that can be considered for adoption across federal buildings. Research and suggestions are frequently applicable to the commercial building sector, in general.

ENERGY STAR Purchasing and Procurement
An ENERGY STAR resource on purchasing efficient products to reduce energy costs without compromising quality. Learn more about ENERGY STAR qualified products and specify them in your purchasing policies and contracts.


The Better Buildings Alliance Commercial Real Estate Steering Committee helps to set priorities for Alliance work in the sector each year. This year, sector activities are focused on the following priorities:

  • Develop guidance/analysis from organizational energy + resilience efforts, and make connections and build regional ties for resilience partnerships spanning the public/private sector
  • Leverage Better Building partner successes to drive awareness and adoption of energy efficiency in businesses beginning their energy efficiency/sustainability journey
  • Promote new building technologies, validation opportunities, and results to support broader adoption


Steering Committee Members

  • Eric Duchon, LaSalle Investment Management
  • Ellen Bell, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Michael Drowne, Newmark Grubb Knight Frank
  • JP Flaherty, Tishman Speyer
  • Mike Groppi, CBRE
  • Hakon Mattson, Anthem, Inc.
  • Jonathan Bauer, Tower Companies
  • Sara Neff, Kilroy Realty
  • Matthew Praske, Washington REIT (Chair)
  • Becca Rushin, Jamestown
  • John K. Scott, Colliers International
  • Brenna Walraven, Corporate Sustainability Strategies
  • Marta Schantz, Urban Land Institute

Meet the Sector Committee Chair