Tenant Star: New National Branding Label for Energy Efficiency in Commercial Spaces

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energy efficiency in commercial spaces

Empire State Building photo by David Shankbone

NRDC’s Wendy Fok reports on the April 30 signing by President Barack Obama of the Energy Efficiency Act of 2015, which encourages energy efficiency in commercial spaces.

Tenant Star, a multi-year effort envisioned by the Real Estate Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) was signed into law by President Obama this afternoon. It is a significant win for the real estate industry as part of the Energy Efficiency Act of 2015, sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH).

Tenant Star is a voluntary, cost free program to encourage energy efficiency in leased commercial spaces, which can account for 50 percent or more of a building’s total energy usage. Designed to spur implementation of cost effective energy efficiency investments and best practices in commercial office spaces, Tenant Star will address a multi-billion dollar energy efficiency opportunity.

“Tenant Star will encourage commercial tenants and landlords to design and construct leased spaces in office buildings to achieve high levels of energy performance. [Tenant Star] aligns office tenants – who can account for more than 50 percent of the energy consumed in an office building – to incorporate into the construction of their leased premises common sense, cost-effective measures that yield excellent returns on investment over short pay-back periods. Tenants will favor landlords whose buildings can support such installations.”

Anthony E. Malkin, Chair of The Real Estate Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee and Chairman, President, and CEO of Empire State Realty Trust, Inc.

Results from the High Performance Tenant Demonstration Project, and its portfolio of business case studies and proven approach helped provide the framework for Tenant Star.

Through direct engagement on tenant build-out projects, such as a number of major tenants at the Empire State Building; and Reed Smith in Philadelphia, a financial and energy evaluation process provides optimal sets of energy performance measures with 30 to 50 percent energy use savings with a payback between three to five years.

Open source tenant tools and resources developed through the initial tenant project portfolio will be part of a market outreach and education effort later this year, designed to rapidly scale up the tenant energy optimization process through real estate service providers and energy market influencers.

Tenant Star is an excellent example of market based policy, and how business and government leaders are working together to save our nation energy, money and encourage job creation. Private sector markets and collaborative partnerships do indeed have the ability to improve business as usual and change the world.

Wendy Fok is project director for NRDC’s Commercial Buildings Efficiency, Center for Market Innovation, New York. This blog originally appeared on Switchboard,  the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Staff Blog.

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