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Tenant Star Moves Forward for the Commercial Office Market

Written by: Marta Schantz

By now, most sustainability stakeholders in the commercial real estate (CRE) market are familiar with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, a tool to support whole-building monthly energy benchmarking. More recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR Commercial Buildings Team has been planning an office tenant-space equivalent program, informally known as “Tenant Star.” On Sept 27th, the EPA held a roundtable for the CRE community to provide input and commentary on the proposed criteria for ENERGY STAR recognition for tenants in office buildings. Marta Schantz, Manager at Waypoint Energy, participated in the roundtable discussion along with CRE colleagues hailing from Chicago, New York City, and Waypoint Energy’s east coast home base Washington DC.

The ENERGY STAR program has long been recognizing building owners and managers for energy efficiency and energy leadership, but the influence that landlords have over tenant spaces is not always very strong. As a hurdle that many of us in the multi-tenant office market deal with on a regular basis, the split-incentive barrier occurs when the party who pays the upfront costs of an efficiency improvement is different from the one who benefits from energy savings. As such, the EPA is developing Tenant Star for those organizations occupying office space in multi-tenant buildings, to motivate them to strive for higher-efficiency office spaces at the time of move-in via tenant improvement fit-outs.

The roundtable event provided a wonderful space for dialogue amongst tenants, landlords, and other entities involved in the CRE energy efficiency market. Waypoint was poised to provide valuable insights and suggestions for the “Tenant Star” criteria thanks to our work overcoming the split-incentive through utility programs such the Utility Connect and Sustainable Office Design, and through government market transformation efforts on Rooftop Unit and Plug and Process Load efficiency. Due to our deep experience in ENERGY STAR benchmarking and recognition for whole buildings, Waypoint was able to provide valuable insights to parallel those efforts for individual tenant spaces.

More details on the current proposed criteria for the Tenant Star recognition program are available in the EPA’s Request for Public Comment: EPA ENERGY STAR Recognition for Efficient Office Tenant Spaces – Design & Construction. EPA is asking for public feedback and input by November 14th on its proposed criteria for tenants to be eligible for the recognition:

  1. Estimate Energy Usage

  2. Meter Tenant Space Energy Usage

  3. Light Efficiently

  4. Share Utility Data Consumption

  5. Purchase Energy Efficient Equipment

The ENERGY STAR team is holding another summit for the West Coast CRE market on October 20th in San Francisco. If you are interested in providing input and commentary on the upcoming Tenant Star recognition program, register here and Waypoint Energy will see you there!


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