Commercial Real Estate

Commercial Real Estate

Commercial real estate properties represent nearly 16 billion square feet of floorspace and consume more than 250 billion kWh of office building energy use. Through the Better Buildings commercial real estate sector, partners who own, lease, or manage over 6.6 billion square feet of commercial space are sharing best practices, and engaging with technical experts to advance their energy savings goals. Over $430 million has been saved since 2011.

Get Started with Sustainability: Foundations of Efficiency Programs
Create Sustainable Landlord-Tenant Relationships: Green Lease Leaders
Iron Mountain Data Centers Recognized for Energy Efficiency Leadership in Virtual Site Visit: Read More
Learn about hot topics from the experts: On-Demand Better Buildings Webinars
Get Involved

There are many different ways to work with DOE through the Better Buildings Initiative. Explore our partnerships to find the best fit for your organization, whether your focus is energy, water, waste, or carbon.

Financing Navigator

There are many ways to finance energy efficiency projects in buildings you own or occupy. The Navigator helps you cut through this complexity to secure financing that works for you. 

2022 Better Buildings Progress Report

To date, the 900+ Better Buildings partners have saved more than 2.5 quadrillion Btus, saving more than $15 billion and 155 million tons of CO2.

Featured Solutions

LBA Realty developed a Sustainability-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering for its tenants to help lower their operating costs and improve building health, all while providing building performance data to LBA.
This case study features two multifamily properties owned by WashREIT and the creative approach the energy team took to achieve a 5-year payback on the PV system.
Columbia Association replaced a large propane water heater with two smaller heat pump water heaters to eliminate a source of on-site fossil fuel combustion and utilize a high-efficiency heat pump technology at one of its community pool facilities.
This toolkit is designed to support owners and operators of existing buildings in planning retrofit and operational strategies to achieve deep carbon reductions. Low Carbon Technology Strategies are currently available for 10 building types. Recommendations are grouped by technology, with actions categorized as either simple, intermediate, or advanced.
This case study features a warehouse owned by Link Logistics and the increase in NOI the property has seen from leasing the roof space for a solar installation. 
With nearly all office employees working remotely, the Hawaiian Airlines energy team rolled out a plan for employee engagement activities and produced a video detailing office energy-savings tips.
This case study features The Tower Companies' Blair Office Building and the increase in asset value the property has seen from the installation of a solar PV system, in addition to reduced operating expenses. 
Highwoods Properties partners in a program that helps create a pipeline of college graduates trained to control and reduce energy consumption in the built environment.
As energy efficiency in the built environment continues to grow as an industry standard, action plans to mitigate climate change that contain elements such as building performance standard (BPS) policies and benchmarking have become more popular with cities and energy management stakeholders. These resources will help navigate those standards.
LBA Realty implemented a climate risk assessment process to identify, validate, and mitigate confirmed climate risk factors for existing buildings and during the acquisition process. It allowed property teams to produce property-level resilience plans to respond to the identified risks.
Kilroy participated in a Green Janitor Education Program to help janitorial staff understand the science behind green cleaning, how to identify energy and water waste in a building, and how they can play a part in improving building sustainability.
Iron Mountain Data Centers utilized geothermal energy at their data center located inside a former limestone mine finding a total savings of 34% PUE.
Highwoods Properties upgraded chillers, lighting, building systems, and an outdoor ice rink, finding 29% energy savings, 24% water savings, and $950,000 in energy cost savings.
DWS created a centralized Climate Risk and Resiliency Checklist to identify strategies and improvements when an extreme weather event occurs.
WashREIT piloted and deployed a new EMIS program across its portfolio to monitor market data and property energy load profiles in real-time.
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

Fact Sheet

This resource provides an overview of TEOP and Green Lease Leaders, highlighting how the two programs can work together to offer a robust roadmap for landlord-tenant energy efficiency achievements.

Guidance

This guide is intended for anyone investigating the addition of energy storage to a single or multiple commercial buildings. 
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab created an integrated systems package (ISP) for achieving deeper energy savings during whole-building renovations in existing commercial buildings. To minimize required expertise and effort, the ISP includes a checklist, specifications, and procedures for LED lighting and dimming controls, high-efficiency RTUs, HVAC controls, energy monitoring, and more.
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab created an integrated systems package (ISP) for achieving deeper energy savings during RTU equipment replacement in existing commercial buildings. To minimize required expertise and effort, the ISP includes a checklist, specifications, and procedures for a high-efficiency RTU, advanced controls, energy monitoring, and envelope improvements to reduce HVAC sizing.
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab created an integrated systems package (ISP) for achieving deeper energy savings during tenant fit-out in existing commercial buildings. The ISP includes a checklist, specifications, and procedures for LED lighting and dimming controls, HVAC controls, plug load controls, and energy monitoring.
This document includes steps that building owners and operators can implement to achieve smart, healthy, and low-carbon large office buildings within their existing building portfolios. Large offices are typically over 50,000 square feet and often include complex heating and cooling systems. 
This document includes steps that building owners and operators can implement to achieve smart, healthy, and low-carbon midrise apartment buildings within their existing building portfolios. Midrise apartments may use packaged rooftop units for heating, cooling, and ventilation or central plant systems for larger buildings.
This document includes steps that building owners and operators can implement to achieve smart, healthy, and low-carbon small office buildings within their existing building portfolios. Small offices are typically less than 50,000 square feet and often use packaged rooftop units for heating, cooling, and ventilation.
This guide will help office building owners and energy managers reduce PPL energy use. It includes a process for developing a PPL control strategy for office buildings.
This document contains a variety of resources intended to help commercial partners gain better access to energy data through the use of submetering.

Implementation Models

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.
Real estate investment trust Parkway was running into challenges tracking its buildings' energy performance and motivating stakeholders to participate in sustainability initiatives. After launching a Sustainable Properties Awards Program with robust tools and incentives, 100% of Parkway's portfolio is benchmarking energy consumption and allowing the trust to monitor progress toward goals.
USAA Real Estate developed a calculator to convert the results of energy efficiency upgrades into metrics that are meaningful for financial decision makers, resulting in more projects funded and increased portfolio-wide energy savings.
Iron Mountain collaborated with Redaptive in an efficiency-as-a-service product to finance energy efficiency projects, creating a flexible future cost savings program.
Lendlease found $10 million in savings and achieved its Better Buildings Challenge goal 5 years early by utilizing engagement, technology, sustainable design, and more to find savings at scale across their military housing portfolio. 

Report

This guide explores the benefits, barriers, and strategies to installing solar on leased buildings, including commercial real estate.

Showcase Projects

Nuveen Real Estate and the Cushman & Wakefield property team utilized no- and low-cost strategies for water savings at 1401 H Street (City Center). By upgrading toilets and urinals, replacing aerators and adjusting the frequency of sidewalk cleanings, Nuveen Real Estate reduced water consumption by 36%.
CommonWealth partners undertook comprehensive energy efficiency upgrades at this center, including lighting, a preventative maintenance program for HVAC, and a building automation system calibrated for peak efficiency. Altogether these measures save 17% energy annually.
JBG Smith upgraded aging building systems at the 836,500-square-foot L’Enfant Plaza East in Washington, D.C. to achieve 31% energy savings and annual cost savings of $920,000.
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 that reduced overall energy consumption by 22%, savings over $96,000, all while improving member experience.
Lendlease’s Island Palm Communities underwent a large-scale energy security and modernization project that incorporates rooftop solar PV, energy efficiency upgrades, and water conservation efforts to save a projected 22% in energy use and 28% in water use.

Toolkit

This toolkit provides cross-sector guidance on establishing a green revolving fund to overcome the common barrier of dedicated funding. A green revolving fund is an internal capital pool that is dedicated to funding energy efficiency, renewable energy, and/or sustainability projects that generate cost savings. A portion of those savings is then used to replenish the fund.

Webinar

This webinar explored a variety of strategies commercial building owners can use to address extreme weather events and identify cost-effective strategies and improvements to protect occupants and assets from short and long-term risks.

Additional Information

Featured on the Beat Blog

Other Resources

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.

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.

NREL REopt Lite™ web tool
The REopt Lite™ web tool evaluates the economics of grid-connected photovoltaics (PV), wind, and battery storage at a site. It allows users to identify the system sizes and battery dispatch strategy that minimize a site’s life cycle cost of energy, and it estimates the amount of time a PV, wind, battery, and diesel generator system can sustain the site’s critical load during a grid outage.

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.

Sector Priorities

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

  • Highlight technical pathways for decarbonization in commercial real estate with a focus on electrification, particularly for retrofits in existing buildings. Additionally, showcase effective embodied carbon reduction efforts of partners and connect partners exploring embodied carbon back to DOE technical research and initiatives.

  • Develop and showcase technology and finance solutions related to renewable energy and storage, including onsite installations and offsite procurement such as PPAs and VPPAs.

  • Assist partners facing challenges in pursuing energy efficiency with an increased focus on healthy buildings and IAQ.
     

Steering Committee Members

  • Becca Rushin, Jamestown (Chair)
  • Matthew Praske, EQT Exeter
  • Jonathan Bauer, Blackstone
  • Michael Drowne, Newmark
  • JP Flaherty, Tishman Speyer
  • Mike Groppi, CBRE
  • Hakon Mattson, Anthem, Inc.
  • Sara Neff, Lendlease
  • John K. Scott, Colliers
  • Brenna Walraven, Corporate Sustainability Strategies
  • Marta Schantz, Urban Land Institute

Meet the Sector Committee Chair