Elena Alschuler

Unlocking Operational Efficiency in Office Districts

Operational efficiency has remained elusive despite the potential for 10-20% savings from low and no cost measures in many office buildings. This is because office building energy performance is shaped by the actions of multiple stakeholders, including the owner, facility staff, occupant organizations, and office workers. These stakeholders control different aspects of energy use and have different interests. But they all face social barriers such as information and education, process assistance, and the need for encouragement from others. Smart Energy Now®, a new advanced metering and community-based social marketing pilot in Charlotte NC, is one of the first programs to focus exclusively on operational efficiency in office buildings across an entire downtown. A preliminary evaluation reveals that the pilot has been successful in many of its direct interventions with stakeholders, including gaining almost 100% building owner participation, providing interval meter data and professional development opportunities for facility staff, and engaging more than 500 office workers in the Energy Champions program (and counting). In order to achieve scale, efforts are now focused on integrating the program into business organizations’ processes and activities. Several other leading efficiency programs, including the EDF’s Climate Corps, BOMA’s Kilowatt Crackdown and the Chicago Green Office Challenge are also testing ways to deliver education, assistance and recognition tailored to building stakeholders. Tailored social interventions can directly result in energy saving behaviors, and increase the likelihood of capital investment. However, efficiency potential varies depending on each building’s technical characteristics and organizational structure. Therefore, many successful programs are using flexible frameworks that establish a process for participation, but allow stakeholders to select the efficiency activities that make sense for them. Implementing these programs entails providing new resources, such as tools, trainings and rewards, and working with new partners, such as organizational leaders, local professional networks and civic organizations.

Follow along with the presentation by downloading it here.