Shorenstein Properties: Student Fellowships To Kickstart In-House Energy Programs

Shorenstein is a leading real estate organization with owned and managed office properties across the country. In 2009, the company recognized a need for additional resources to support the existing sustainability committee with evaluation of energy-saving opportunities and implementation of sustainability initiatives.

Senior Management turned to a summer fellowship program, leveraging graduate students with deep expertise in energy efficiency to boost sustainability efforts at the company. Management recognized the value that student fellowships could add to the organization:

  • Dedicated resource for selling the energy efficiency business case
  • Expanded support for sustainability initiatives
  • Introduction of new ideas for organizational innovation
  • Opportunity to recruit new talent to the company

Shorenstein partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Climate Corps Program to implement the fellowship. The success of this program and associated energy savings eventually led Shorenstein to create a full-time Sustainability Program Manager position and to formalize an energy management program at the company.

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  • Process

    Shorenstein’s Fellowship Program Overview and Planning
    Shorenstein begins planning for the summer fellowship a year in advance. Annual participation is reviewed and approved by Senior Management as part of the corporate budgeting process. The program is internally sponsored by Shorenstein’s Property Management and Construction Department.

    Once approved for the coming year, Shorenstein’s Sustainability Program Manager applies to the Climate Corps program as a host organization. Climate Corps fellows may be hosted at Shorenstein’s corporate headquarters in San Francisco or at a property with significant energy efficiency opportunities.  For fellowships hosted at Shorenstein’s headquarters, the company’s Sustainability Committee  identifies work plan objectives based on corporate energy efficiency and sustainability goals and objectives that have been laid out for the year.  For fellowships hosted at a building, the Sustainability Committee works with the Property Management team to develop the workplan objectives.  The Sustainability Committee utilizes the summer fellow as a strategic resource for advancing portfolio-wide energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives. Shorenstein’s fellows have provided critical support in the following areas:

    • Implementation of key Sustainability Committee objectives including:
      • Tenant engagement programs
      • Sustainability PR and communications
      • Development of green leasing guidance
    • Identification of new energy efficiency project opportunities and technologies
    • Completion of building energy audits
    • Portfolio-wide survey of building energy systems including lighting and HVAC infrastructure

    Evaluation of energy savings from completed energy efficiency projects

    Fellow Selection and Training
    The EDF  Climate Corps team handles the recruitment and selection of  qualified fellows, who are typically MBA and MPA students from top-tier universities with host organizations such as Shorenstein. Shorenstein specifies the desired fellow skillsets, such as energy management, data analysis and green building expertise such as the LEED AP.

    Prior to arriving at their host company, all EDF fellows complete a three-day intensive energy efficiency training managed by EDF. The training reviews technical engineering skills and knowledge EDF fellows will need to assess energy efficiency opportunities and communicate the business case for investment.

    On-Boarding and Work Plan Implementation
    Fellows are hosted at Shorenstein’s corporate office or at different buildings across the portfolio. The Sustainability Program Manager oversees the Climate Corps fellow’s work, with support from EDF’s Engagement Manager.

    At the outset of the fellowship, EDF Climate Corps fellows complete a two part On-Boarding Survey — Part I: Practices for Energy Efficiency; and Part II: Barriers to Energy Efficiency — with targeted questions designed to stimulate internal discussion about energy efficiency. The On-Boarding Survey has helped Shorenstein identify organizational and industry barriers to energy efficiency. Over time, the annual survey has allowed Shorenstein to track progress toward unlocking progressively deeper energy-saving opportunities.

    Fellows work closely with the Shorenstein Sustainability Program Manager to implement their work plan. In addition, EDF Engagement Managers are available as a resource to both fellows and the host company. Furthermore, EDF fellows and host company representatives have access to EDF’s staff of subject matter experts.

    Springboarding to a Formal Sustainability Program
    After several years of successful summer fellowships, Shorenstein saw such potential for its energy efficiency efforts that it hired one of its former fellows to a full-time Sustainability Program Manager position, significantly expanding its corporate sustainability platform. Initiatives enabled through the program and fellowships have resulted in significant energy use reductions across Shorenstein’s building portfolio. Shorenstein continues to engage summer fellows to support the sustainability program.


  • Measuring Success

    Shorenstein’s Senior Property Management team reviews the results of each summer’s fellowship, including a final presentation and report. The fellow’s identified energy-savings opportunities and other recommendations are reviewed for budgeting and implementation based on feasibility and expected impact. The Sustainability Program Manager also reviews EDF’s customized Organizational Feedback and Benchmarking report. The outcome of the Sustainability Program Manager’s assessment is summarized in a memorandum to Senior Management.

    With the support of summer fellows, Shorenstein has created and deployed a system to track portfolio-wide energy performance year-over-year. A system for tracking energy project completions and savings is also being created and deployed, permitting detailed reporting on project outcomes.


  • Outcomes

    Since 2008, Shorenstein has reduced energy use by more than 20%.  Much of this performance verification is attributable to the progress made each year through the company’s engagement with summer fellows. The following timeline documents the evolving progress of Shorenstein’s sustainability program.

    Shorenstein Energy and Sustainability Timeline

    2009 – Shorenstein Engages first summer fellow, Benchmarks Buildings in ENERGY STAR®
    Shorenstein’s newly formed Sustainability Committee engages a summer fellow. Shorenstein completes portfolio-wide energy performance benchmarking using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. The summer fellow supports an evaluation of tenant submetering opportunities.

    2010 – Shorenstein Energy Savings Tour Launched, Tenant Engagement Tools Created
    Shorenstein launches a portfolio-wide “Energy Savings Tour”. The first company-wide energy efficiency initiative of its kind, the Shorenstein building portfolio is reviewed and energy-saving projects are systematically identified, prioritized, budgeted and implemented. The summer fellow develops tenant engagement tools and resources that will ultimately be incorporated into a tenant engagement website.

    2011 – Energy Savings Tour Reduces Energy Consumption 5.1%, Shorenstein Joins Better Buildings Challenge
    “Energy Savings Tour” projects were implemented and evaluated. The resulting program evaluation, led by the summer fellow, confirmed a 5.1% reduction in portfolio-wide annual energy consumption. Shorenstein is invited to join the Department of Energy Better Building’s Challenge and commits to reducing energy intensity 20% by 2020 over a 2008 baseline. Shorenstein’s Sustainability Resources site is launched with support from the 2011 EDF fellow.

    2012 – Shorenstein Creates Sustainability Program Manager Position
    Having demonstrated the business case for a dedicated energy and sustainability resource, Shorenstein creates a full-time Sustainability Program Manager role. The company recruits a former summer fellow to fill the position. The newly created position enables Shorenstein to greatly expand the breadth and depth of the company’s energy efficiency and sustainability efforts. Water and waste benchmarking is initiated. Water efficiency is tracked using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

    2013 - Present -- Ongoing Program Participation
    Quarterly environmental performance reporting process is implemented across the Shorenstein Portfolio. With analytic support from the summer fellow, the Sustainability Program Manager and Engineering staff identify over $250,000 in lighting and building systems energy efficiency opportunities annually.


Shorenstein established a fellowship position that provides analytic and strategic support to accelerate energy efficiency investment and communicate the value of sustainable investments.


Commercial Real Estate Management


No dedicated position for coordinating energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives across the real estate portfolio


Annual summer fellowship program provides analytic and strategic support to accelerate energy efficiency investment and communicate the value of sustainable investments


Momentum and value of fellowship program drove creation of a full-time Sustainability Program Manager position and formal sustainability program at the company, with associated initiatives contributing to significant portfolio-wide energy use reduction