Tower Companies Accepts President Obama’s 2020 Better Buildings Challenge

By: David Borchardt, Chief Sustainability Officer at The Tower Companies

President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge requests that companies volunteer to commit to reducing their energy consumption by 20% by the year 2020. Many large organizations with a much larger portfolio have risen to the challenge. We fully support this initiative. However, as a small business leader with a 4.5 million SF portfolio, we’ve been implementing energy reduction strategies since 2000.
Before I joined Tower in late 2005, this is what the company had achieved.

At The Millennium Building at 1909 K Street in DC, we added 4 floors and did not increase energy use.
In 2003, we achieved Energy Star at 1909 and Tower 1. In 2004, Blair Towns was the first apartment in the US to be LEED certified, which required a certain level of energy efficiency.

When I joined Tower, in late 2005, our first year with Climate Leaders, we began auditing our record of energy efficiencies. Prior to that, everything had been done manually. Since late 2006 early 2007, we began reporting all the commercial office buildings in Energy Star, which now tracks every building. This is what we’ve been able to accomplish:

  • We are carbon neutral.
  • We offset our brown energy.
  • We performed energy audits of all our buildings.
  • We certified under EB every office building that qualified. This required retro commissioning.
  • We are in the process of certifying our multifamily portfolio.
  • We are tracking all LEED buildings using Energy Star.
  • We have used and continue to use PEPCO rebates to fund VFD drives, lighting retrofits, refrigerators, and 1 chiller replacement.
  • We have initiated a real time energy monitoring program.
  • Our commercial leases require exceeding the lighting energy code requirement by 16%.
  • Our commercial leases require Energy Star rated Appliances.
  • The Blairs only use Energy Star rated appliances for replacements.
  • When we replace equipment at building we look to use energy efficient equipment.
  • We have used tax deductions to help fund chiller and boiler replacements at 3 Blairs buildings.

Also, we are working with our commercial and residential tenants to teach them how to save energy and are tracking those who have volunteered to report their success. When we combine our past efforts with additional work we’re undertaking, we will achieve the President’s goal as we are well underway and more than half done!

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