Kilroy Realty gets Twitter smart, energy smart - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Demand Management, Energy Efficiency  -  June 1, 2016 - By Amy Poszywak

Kilroy Realty leverages the power of Twitter, drives energy reductions beyond 2015 target

Exclusive to Smart Energy Decisions 

 This is the first in a series of original Smart Energy Decisions features exploring the successes of a selection of corporations recognized by Energy Star for achievements in energy efficiency. Each company we've talked with for this series, made possible through our partnership with Energy Star, has a unique story about their efforts to reduce electric use across their organization. Taken in aggregate, we hope the series provides readers with a useful glimpse into the kinds of strategies being implemented across the commercial and industrial sectors as well as a deeper understanding of vetted, real-life tactics for cutting consumption.  

Can Twitter help a corporation reduce its energy use? 

It just may have for Kilroy Realty Corp., which recently used the social media site to launch a campaign celebrating the energy reduction accomplishments and Energy Star certifications achieved by its building engineers. The Los Angeles-based real estate investment trust unveiled the program in 2015 as a way to recognize its engineers for hard work that often goes unnoticed, but its lasting impact was bigger than anyone expected, according to Kilroy's Senior Vice President of Sustainability Sara Neff.

Neff says she realized the value of having a motivated team of building engineers in place shortly after she joined the company in 2010. 

"When I started at Kilroy, our corporate headquarters wasn't benchmarked in Energy Star, so I benchmarked the building and found it had a score in the high 60s. I implemented projects, including a lighting retrofit, and two years later the building was barely eligible for certification. We got it certified and I thought my work was done, that the building couldn't get any more efficient," Neff said. "Then a new chief engineer started in, and he dropped its energy use by over 20% in just one year."

As part of the Twitter campaign, which also helped the company earn an Energy Star award in 2015, Neff and Kilroy’s sustainability manager created "baseball cards" for 31 engineers and Tweeted them out over the summer; they were also posted on Kilroy’s website and shared with the team at Energy Star. And while the campaign made for some happy-to-be-recognized engineers — "we got emails like 'It’s nice that our hard work is being noticed!'" Neff said — it may have also driven energy use reductions within the company. 

"I was shocked by the positive response, both by the chiefs and Energy Star … I was also shocked by the steep energy reductions we saw in the portfolio, almost 50% more than our targeted reduction (we target 2%, and saw a 3.7% reduction last year)," Neff said. "I believe the Engineer All-Stars campaign was a primary driver. So, I learned that recognition can really motivate a team to try harder to look for energy reductions.

Kilroy, which owns 13.1 million rentable square feet of commercial office space across 101 buildings, was recognized with an 2015 Energy Star partner of the year, sustained excellence award for energy management; the U.S. EPA listed the company's Engineer All-Stars campaign among its key accomplishments. Others included expanding the company's tenant engagement programs to triple-net leased tenants, encouraging them to share energy data and coordinating its first Energy Star certifications for triple-net leased buildings.

Since the launch of its energy efficiency programs in 2010, Kilroy has saved more than 21.5 million kWh and $3.88 million, according to the EPA.

Energy Star, which is a content partner of Smart Energy Decisions, is a program of the EPA. 

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