Cal Shirley
Kilowatt Crackdown
September 16, 2011

How commercial building owners use energy efficiency to become more competitive in a challenging market.

"Energy consumption is the number one operating expense of a commercial building. The value of commercial real estate is down, the occupancy is down, rates are down. And about the only way you can bring value to that building right now is to reduce operating expenses." – Rod Kauffman, Building Owners and Managers Association, Seattle - King County

Many cities across the Northwest are experiencing a challenging rental market with high vacancies rates. With a Seattle and Bellevue downtown office vacancy rate nearing 20%, commercial buildings are facing a challenging market. Many commercial building owners are attracting more tenants through energy efficiency improvements that save the tenant money, reduce energy usage in the buildings as a whole.

To engage more commercial buildings in energy efficiency improvements, NEEA teams with the Building Owners and Managers Associations (BOMA) in Seattle and local utilities, to sponsor friendly energy benchmarking competitions that challenge owners and managers to reduce energy use over time.

The Kilowatt Crackdown is a fun and friendly competition that captures the “competitive nature” of the commercial real estate industry by challenging building owners and managers to make measurable and lasting changes in the way they use energy in commercial spaces.

The first Seattle Kilowatt Crackdown in 2009 resulted in 53 competing properties, representing over 18 million square feet or 20 percent of the Puget Sound office market. The combined energy savings from the participating buildings is equal to the annual electric consumption of 1,000 Northwest homes. In 2011, all combined, 71 buildings competed in Puget Sound’s Kilowatt Crackdown and achieved more than 24 million kWh in projected annual savings.

How did they do this?

Bentall Kennedy, owners of Newport Corporate Center, won first place for the Highest Performing Small Building (40,000 – 100,000 square feet) with their One Newport Building in Bellevue, Wash.

The real estate company prevailed because they initiated changes in motion sensors lighting, eliminated the lighting control system and modified programming in its energy management system. This combination of improvements all contributed to winning the award, lowered energy costs in the building and more comfortable workspaces for tenants.

Key Players:

Puget Sound Energy - featuring Cal Shirley

Washington’s oldest local energy utility, Puget Sound Energy serves more than 1 million electric customers and 750,000 natural gas customers. PSE meets the energy needs of its customers through incremental, cost-effective energy efficiency, procurement of sustainable energy resources, and far-sighted investment in energy-delivery infrastructure. PSE employees are dedicated to providing great customer service and delivering energy that is safe, dependable and efficient.

Bentall Kennedy - featuring Randy Davis

Bentall Kennedy is one of North America’s largest real estate investment advisors and one of its foremost providers of real estate services. Serving the interests of more than 500 clients across 142 million square feet of office, retail, industrial, hotel, and apartment properties totaling $26 billion throughout Canada and the U.S., Bentall Kennedy has a 100‐year track record of delivering superior returns and a reputation for integrity, innovation and creating value. It is a member of UN PRI and is a recognized global leader in Responsible Property Investing.

Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Seattle King County - featuring spokesperson Rod Kauffman

The Building Owners and Managers Association of Seattle King County is a professional trade association whose several hundred members from 250 firms either own or manage commercial real estate or provide goods and services to the industry. Established in 1912, BOMA is the voice of the office building and commercial real estate industry.

Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance - featuring Phill Guay

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) is a non-profit organization working to maximize energy efficiency to meet our future energy needs. NEEA is supported by, and works in collaboration with, the Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Trust of Oregon and more than 100 Northwest utilities on behalf of more than 12 million energy consumers.


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Author Bio

Bobby is former Solutions Stories and Media Manager with Climate Solutions. In that role, he worked to identify and engage new audiences for our programs and campaigns throughout the Northwest, with a focus on the Solutions Stories.

Bobby spent six years as the National Representative at the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition (SOS), mobilizing support to restore the Columbia-Snake River Basin, a watershed home to some of the world’s best habitat for wild salmon and steelhead in a changing climate.

After receiving his degree in Political Science from the University of Oregon in 2003, he advocated on behalf of working people and the environment. In addition to SOS, Bobby has worked for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU Local 503) and America Coming Together, and volunteered for the Trout Unlimited, Elders in Action, and UNITE HERE.

Bobby hails from central Pennsylvania and has lived in Oregon since 1998. When he's not working, Bobby can be found with his partner Jenny and their cat Jove, playing music with friends, out and about on his bike, or working in the garden.

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