SL Green - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Demand Management, Energy Efficiency  -  July 21, 2016 - By Amy Poszywak

Famous NYC building owner goes all-in on energy efficiency, reports $10M in annual savings

A Smart Energy Decisions exclusive 

This story is the ninth in a series of original features exploring the successes of a selection of corporations recognized by the U.S. EPA's Energy Star program 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.

SL Green Realty Corp. may call itself New York City's largest office landlord, but its claim to fame could just as well be in another category: Energy efficiency. 

Since 2010, the real estate investment trust has invested more than $44 million in energy upgrades across its portfolio of commercial buildings that have translated to $10 million in annual cost savings, all while making some of the city's most iconic buildings greener. 

"Given that the majority of our portfolio is located in one of the most dynamic and dense urban areas in the city, it’s critical that our buildings capitalize on the latest technology to achieve optimal energy performance," SL Green Executive Vice President Edward Piccinich recently told Smart Energy Decisions. "Our focus is on environmental awareness and consistent delivery of healthy and productive work environments for tenants." 

By implementing the latest technologies and modernizing obsolete building systems, SL Green says it can continue to optimize building performance, reduce maintenance costs and provide tenants with a Class A experience. Those accomplishments are also expected to establish the foundation necessary to explore the emerging technologies of tomorrow, the company says. 

Going forward, SL Green has committed to achieving a 15% reduction in energy use portfolio-wide by 2020

One major component of its energy efficiency strategy is its EnergyDesk system, which is a trademark, developed in conjunction with energy services consulting firm Integrated Energy Services Corp., known as iES Corp. The system, which leverages system algorithms that analyze key building management system data, provides granular insight for SL Green's building staff to make more informed decisions and achieve a higher level of tenant comfort and building efficiency, the company says.

The platform has driven efficiency by enhancing peak energy performance through real-time building commissioning, the company says. Through the system, SL Green said it has access to real time, 5 minute, 15 minute and hourly data for their analysis of proposed projects and audits.  

Evolving from modest beginnings in 2006, SL Green's use of the EnergyDesk was initially through wireless monitoring of high-pressure steam traps. It has since evolved into a robust platform, to which all of the company's core New York City buildings, totaling 20.5 million square feet, are connected in real time; what's more, the platform communicates with the buildings' primary systems, the grid operator and their local utility. 

Additionally, the rapid development of SL Green's sustainability program has created new areas of scalability of the platform to support new initiatives, including Energy Star benchmarking and annual greenhouse gas emissions reporting.

The result of that system? SL Green says optimization through EnergyDesk and monitoring of capital investments to reduce energy consumption have resulted in significant savings:  In 2015, from a 2009 baseline, steam savings totaled approximately $2 million, and electricity savings hit about $380,000, or  881,175 kWh.

The benefits of the platform can be seen clearly in the improvements to operational efficiency and tenant engagement at one of SL Green's key properties: 1515 Broadway, home to Viacom Inc.'s headquarters in Times Square. Since the retrofit of 1515 in 2012, the building has realized a 20% reduction in energy use. SL Green explained further: 

These substantial reductions would not have been possible without the deliberate management decisions and operational transparency made possible through EnergyDesk . As for tenant engagement, the building's real-time energy data, pulled directly from the EnergyDesk platform, is posted on TVs in the building lobby and was presented to tenants during Viacom's Earth Day event April 22. The accessibility of energy data facilitated by EnergyDesk has also motivated Viacom to pursue an energy competition between its occupied floors at 1515. 

All of these accomplishments have helped SL Green maintain its position as a leader in energy efficiency. The REIT was recognized by Energy Star in May for its accomplishments — of the $44 million SL Green has invested in energy efficiency projects since 2010, $9 million of that are attributable to 2015 and 2016 — as partner of the year for sustained excellence in energy efficiency program delivery. 

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