Tishman Speyer: Improving Tenant Experience through Demand-Side Energy Management

May 25, 2018

Stand anywhere between Fifth Avenue and the Avenue of the Americas from 48th to 51st Street in Midtown Manhattan and you’re bound to see hundreds of passersby gazing at the iconic sights of Rockefeller Center. If Gregg Fischer is one of them, however, he probably won’t be goggling at the usual tourist highlights—Radio City Music Hall, Christie’s Auction House, the skating rink, or NBC’s broadcast studios. He’ll be heading into one of the center’s ten Art Deco buildings to speak face-to-face with a tenant.

To Gregg, the tenant’s experience is everything.

As the Director of Energy Systems for Tishman Speyer Real Estate, Gregg is personally responsible for managing sixty commercial complexes nationwide. The 8.8 million square feet that comprise Rockefeller Center is just a piece of the more than fifty-million square feet of class-A commercial office space and luxury residential properties Gregg oversees.

“Have you ever seen a circus performer who simultaneously spins ten plates on his feet and arms and head? That’s what I feel like every day of my life,” Gregg says, describing his daily mindset in balancing his company’s needs with those of his tenants. “I make sure all the plates don’t crash.”

For Gregg, every day is filled with minute-by-minute communication with both his tenants and their operation, procurement, and accounting staffs and the departments within Tishman Speyer, from his own team in design and construction to property management as well as the company’s partners and investors.

“The more we innovate on the demand-side, the more the grid, our community, and our tenants win.”

Gregg FischerP.E., Director of Energy Systems, Tishman Speyer Commercial Real Estate

A leading owner, developer, operator and fund manager of first-class real estate worldwide, Tishman Speyer believes sound demand-side energy management—the practice of modifying consumer demand for energy—is crucial to providing a stellar tenant experience. “The more we innovate on the demand-side,” Gregg says, “the more the grid, our community, and our tenants win.”

Gregg is quick to point out the fallacy that Class-A tenants breed Class-A headaches. He would know, since the vast majority of Tishman Speyer’s portfolio consists of Class-A commercial office space that houses high-profile tenants and guests on a daily basis. Informing and educating tenants about the types of demand-side energy management their buildings participate in and the benefit their participation has on the grid, environment, and community helps tenants not only cope with the shifts in energy use but embrace them. “Our tenants spend a lot of time at work,” he says. “The more they learn about our energy management practices the more connected they feel to the building. It makes for a better experience.”  

Communication and education are the cornerstones of transparency in the commercial real estate industry. While his preferred method of tenant communication is face-to-face and one-on-one, Gregg also employs a host of mixed media approaches to explain why buildings participate in demand-side programs. “We offer free walking tours of our buildings. We do lobby info-graphic signs. We do elevator screen messages. We even have a tenant smartphone application. Communication is the building block to trust and the key to making [demand-side energy management] work.”      

Before Tishman Speyer considers any demand-side energy project, Gregg evaluates the project’s potential for tenant and community disturbance and impact, the potential change the project may bring to the building’s asset value, and other aspects that can affect the project such as leasing and contracts as well as incentive programs.   

“CPower has experts in every market to help distill down the key details for our national customers. That’s our job.”

–Michael Mindell, Sr. Account Manager, CPower Demand-Side Energy Management

When it comes to introducing and executing demand-side energy management projects at his company’s properties in New York and elsewhere in the country, Gregg isn’t the only one spinning multiple sets of plates. CPower and its team of energy experts are by his side, juggling platefuls of responsibility and communication to help optimize Tishman Speyer’s tenant experience.

A demand-side energy management company that serves more than 1,300 commercial and industrial organizations nationwide, CPower provides customized solutions that combine demand response, demand management, and distributed energy resources tailored to serve the specific needs of a given organization’s facilities. CPower’s creed centers on the conviction that no two buildings are alike and every organization is unique.

Among CPower’s national team is Michael Mindell, a veteran account executive who’s been involved in the demand response industry since 2001, two years after the New York energy market was deregulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Michael serves as the primary contact for Gregg Fischer and coordinates with CPower’s teams in the various energy markets where Tishman Speyer participates in demand-side energy management to help present to Gregg the key information necessary to make informed decisions in a timely manner.

“The energy industry is highly complex,” Michael says. “Each energy market is different in their regulations and ways they operate their programs. CPower has experts in every market, including regulatory advisors and engineers with experience in hundreds of commercial real estate facilities to help distill down the key details for our national customers. That’s our job.”

“CPower does a great job of understanding things for us in a short amount of time. Then they  come to the table with ideas and solutions.” Gregg says of the demand-side energy management company. “Michael and his team are an honest sounding board that helps me see things in a fresh and different way. Our relationship is such that they can offer very upfront opinions that make the case for doing something either weaker or stronger.”

That CPower operates in all six of the country’s deregulated energy markets and has extensive knowledge of the programs and regulations associated with each market is a big advantage when the time comes to evaluate demand-side strategies for Tishman Speyer’s buildings. “I don’t have the time to go through the fine print and evaluate each and every program. I rely on CPower for that. Michael and his team do a great job of digesting the details and explaining which programs in which markets we should be participating in and what the various impacts might be.”  

In 2017, its first year working with CPower, Tishman Speyer had 34 commercial properties participating in demand-side programs in two energy markets: New York, where 25% of the company’s global portfolio resides and PJM, home of the world’s largest wholesale energy market.  Through demand response programs, which pay organizations for using less energy when the grid is stressed, Tishman Speyer earned nearly $1 million in curtailment revenue during its first year while earnings in PJM approached $400,000.

In 2018, Tishman Speyer will expand its demand-side energy management participation to include the New England market. For Gregg Fischer, the expansion is about more than improving his company’s bottom line. “It’s my responsibility and Tishman Speyer’s responsibility to leverage the benefits of our demand-side energy management into an experience that tenants, visitors, and guests have never seen before.”

To Tishman Speyer, it’s all about the tenant experience.

 

Fred Smith