The Importance of Timing for Energy Efficiency in the Commercial Real Estate Market

Written by: Brian Wong

Engaging buildings at the right time in their management lifecycle is critical to the improved success of energy efficiency programs in the investor owned commercial office sector. All too often, vacant tenant spaces are leased and gutted for build outs in mere weeks – long before utility account managers are notified and can bring incentive programs to the table. In other cases, utility account managers may invest time and effort developing close relationships with property management staff at a large commercial office building to identify their pet energy projects – only to learn months later that ownership is selling the property and management will no longer retain assignment.


By identifying critical intervention points in the typical property management lifecycle, utilities can optimize their outreach and engagement efforts by targeting the right decision makers, with the right program, at the right time. Through our Utility Connect Program, Waypoint successfully executed this approach at 201 Spear Street, a 250,000 square foot, Class A LEED Gold office tower located just off the waterfront in San Francisco’s South Financial District.


Waypoint engaged 201 Spear Street just months after acquisition – one of the most critical stages of the property management lifecycle at which the new ownership is most likely to invest in larger capital improvements.  The 18-floor property, built in 1984, had changed ownership just six months prior, and ownership hired new property management staff to drastically improve building performance, including the reduction of energy costs.


In collaboration with the Property Manager, Jill Vivanco, Waypoint built a customized business case that compelled new ownership to upgrade over 2,500 32-Watt T8 fluorescent bulbs to lower wattage bulbs throughout the building, incorporate new LED lighting standards for future tenant improvements, and upgrade over 200 stairwell and garage lighting fixtures to LEDs. Ownership also approved the property staff’s proposal to enroll in their local utility’s retrocommissioning program, which provides incentives and support from on-site utility experts to make sure the building—and the equipment and systems within it— is running in peak condition for optimal energy savings. The combination of all these efficiency activities resulted in optimized building performance with an estimated 293,000 kWh of electric savings annually and $47,000 operating cost savings.


Had Waypoint engaged 201 Spear Street just one year earlier, right as prior ownership was preparing to sell the building, these projects would likely not have happened. So remember – in the commercial real estate world, timing and knowing your customers is everything!


Download our case study to learn more about our work at 201 Spear Street.

©Waypoint Energy 2020

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