Stephenson Stresses Vigilance for Tenant Savings

Office building owners and managers can convince tenants to significantly reduce energy consumption – but they need to be vigilant in ongoing communication and relations efforts, stressed Jenny Stephenson, program manager with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, during BOMA International’s Every Building conference in Seattle.

Office building owners and managers can convince tenants to significantly reduce energy consumption – but they need to be vigilant in ongoing communication and relations efforts, stressed Jenny Stephenson, program manager with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program. Stephenson offered a plethora of advice in her presentation at BOMA International’s Every Building conference in Seattle.

Stephenson recommended several practical – and synergistic – strategies for helping commercial tenants reduce energy consumption.

It’s a topic landlord reps should address openly and transparently with tenants, Stephenson stressed. This should entail sharing specific building-wide efficiency-improvement goals, such as boosting a property’s Energy Star score.

Communication should also include providing real-time energy consumption data for each tenant’s space if management has that capability – such as the Energy Information Portal that Vornado Realty Trust has developed for its tenants.

And it helps to post a property’s energy “scorecard” visibly in lobbies for all to see, Stephenson continued.

Of course, an Energy Star score is something a landlord can leverage to boost awareness of conservation efforts. For instance when announcing that a company is becoming an Energy Star partner, it’s also a great time to request that tenants provide energy utility data if they haven’t been doing so, Stephenson suggested.

She added that the EPA is happy to provide efficiency-minded informational materials to be posted at a property – including some specifically “co-branded” for the Energy Star partner.

Ongoing education and awareness communication is just as important, Stephenson related. This should include detailed discussions of how energy costs affect occupancy costs and building operations – along with additional steps tenants can take to conserve.

Indeed, several other major office landlords have formalized ongoing educational efforts, including the likes of Beacon Capital, Liberty Property Trust and TIAA-CREF.

Even something as simple as light-switch cover reminders can help, Stephenson added.

Likewise, efforts to help tenants assess their office sustainability practices can help generate significant benefits. Indeed, numerous large landlords and property managers have developed detailed surveys, checklists, toolkits and the like that advise tenants on conservation opportunities – and recognize successful efforts. Stephenson mentioned Hines, Bentall Kennedy, Wells Real Estate, Cushman & Wakefield, CBRE and Jones Lang LaSalle as prominent examples.

Landlords and building managers can also go further and actively partner with multiple tenants collectively in strategizing and executing conservation endeavors, Stephenson continued. Forming joint management councils with tenants will provide great opportunities to establish property-wide goals and flush out new energy-saving ideas, she noted.

In one success story, tenants at the big JLL-managed Aon Center in Chicago collectively cut energy consumption by 5 percent through coordinated operational adjustments alone – without any physical plant improvements.

Of course, it also helps to offer tenants some incentives, which can be as simple as getting them to pay attention to energy-related presentations. Provide food and beverages and decision-makers will likely show up and listen, Stephenson quipped.

Unleashing competitive spirits can also help engage tenants to pursue efficiency goals, she continued. This might include recognizing a property’s entire roster for out-performing counterparts at other buildings over a designated time period – such as with the Energy Star program’s quite lively and effective National Building Competition. Such competitions might even pit divisions within a large tenant against colleagues on other floors, as was the case with L’Oréal USA’s six-month energy conservation challenge last year dubbed “I’ve Got the Power.” The winning unit at the company’s New York headquarters cut consumption 37 percent, with the competition-wide average at 9 percent, Stephenson specified.

Lastly, landlord-side reps need to continue following up with communications of conservation-related programs. In addition to written and electronic communications, this might entail installing various lobby displays or hosting tenant events through which management shares the impacts of conservation programs – or perhaps even explains how sustainability certifications are achieved, Stephenson concluded.