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Continuously monitoring energy use in buildings is part of a wider—scale retrocommissioning effort for all of SL Green’s properties. New York City’s Local Law 87 requires that buildings greater than 50,000 square feet perform an energy audit and retrocommission and complete an Energy Efficiency Report once every 10 years.
“Retrocommissioning gives each building an opportunity to run at its own optimal efficiency,” says Black. “Even new buildings can be run poorly.” But real—time monitoring is how Black makes sure that doesn’t happen. As well, knowing energy use in real—time opens several opportunities for using new technologies and interacting with tenants.
“We’re now starting to overlay occupancy data in real—time,” he says. “When you’re integrating sustainability with people, you allow individuals to acclimate to new approaches and policies.”
While New York is generally a progressive city, one thing Black has been very cognizant of as he’s worked on sustainability is not to go too far too fast. “It’s important to strike a balance between testing and using technologies and being respectful of other responsibilities,” he says. That’s true for his internal team, but also for SL Green’s tenants. And because “tenant experience” is one of the three staples of SL Green’s sustainability strategy, maintaining relationships with tenants is a critical part of Black’s job.
“Jay is charged with the task of reaching out to tenants to make them aware of our sustainability practices,” says Durels. “Part of his job is to educate tenants and get their feedback.”
Implementing sustainability in general, but also LEED specifically, in multi—tenant facilities has long been a difficult charge. That’s because different tenants have different priorities, operating procedures, methods of accounting, corporate cultures, etc. So working with tenants is, at the most basic level, about very good communication, says Black.
“Tenants see sustainability as important to their own social responsibility, so we have to create better office environments,” says Black. “We also provide help with their reporting initiatives and LEED certification, if that’s what they want to do.”
The key, says Black, is identifying strategies to “bridge the gap between tenant energy use and the building’s energy use.” Showing tenant energy use both at a whole—building level and in their space is why real—time energy monitoring is a continued priority for Black. “We want to continue to evaluate how tenants can tap into this strategy,” says Black. “We want to talk with tenants about strategies like this that fall in line with LEED standards.”
Additionally, like any good landlord, SL Green conducts annual tenant surveys, part of which is asking for tenant opinions on sustainability. It’s one thing to have piecemeal anecdotes that tenants are prioritizing sustainability more these days. It’s another to have data. “The survey becomes our measuring stick to how tenants perceive sustainability,” says Black, and he says the most recent tenant survey showed that 68 percent of tenants rated sustainability as “very important.” That’s all but a mandate to continue the work Black has begun. Sustainability is no longer a “nice to have”; it’s an integral part of any business. And Black says doing sustainability successfully is what ultimately sets an organization apart.
“It’s detrimental to your company to not be focusing on sustainability,” he says. “You want to be forward—thinking. Sustainability shows you’re a progressive company, and people want to be part of that. Sustainability is a differentiator.”
Retrocommissioning, Tenant Relationships Part of SL Green Sustainability Efforts