IMT is laser-focused on unleashing the potential of energy-efficient buildings to improve bottom lines and property value, drive economic growth, and reduce harmful pollution to create healthier, resilient cities. Collaborating with building owners, tenants, governments, and other city and corporate stakeholders, as well as NGOs and strategic partners, IMT’s expert staff strive to catalyze collective and permanent market change. So, who is IMT? Get to know our subject matter experts in this blog series.
Alex Harry, IMT Program Manager for Market Engagement, works with the federal government, local communities, and market leaders around the country to spark market transformation. She shared how IMT’s programs are setting the standard for conscientious, community-driven energy efficiency strategies.
What does market transformation mean to you, and how does your current work at IMT move us toward that goal?
A market is transformed when valuable key concepts such as green (also known as energy-aligned or high-performance) leasing become self-sustaining forces. A green lease creates win-win agreements for building owners and tenants and catalyzes both groups to invest in and benefit from lower operating expenses, improved employee productivity, and increased occupancy and building value. Transformation happens when audiences, over time, recognize and actively pursue the value inherent in a new strategy, program, or tool such as a green lease and in turn need fewer incentives and technical support to pursue it.
What does this look like? At IMT, I focus on working with the commercial real estate sector to incorporate green leasing best practices such as submetering, energy data sharing, and plug load management into standard operations. Green Lease Leaders is IMT’s anchor recognition program that’s supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The program sets the national standard for green leasing and showcases leading organizations that are effectively leveraging their leases as vehicles for investment in energy and water efficiency. In five years, Green Lease Leader honorees who own or manage more than 1.8 billion square feet of space have activated energy efficiency via green leases — that’s market transformation at work.
In June, IMT will announce the 2018 class of Green Lease Leaders at BOMA International’s annual conference, and I can’t wait to share their impressive accomplishments and unique partnerships that are making smart energy decisions possible, one lease at a time.
How did you first recognize the value of building efficiency?
Before coming to IMT, I worked in property management and commercial real estate, where I saw first-hand how lease structures can motivate organizations to save energy. I also recognized that buyers are increasingly motivated to buy apartment buildings with green building certifications, energy-efficient base building equipment, and lower utility bills. In coming to IMT, I wanted to further explore and understand these market trends and provide value-driven solutions to the commercial real estate market that maximize net operating income, decrease expenses, and attract quality tenants.
What most excites you about working with cities and local communities?
When working with cities and local communities, I enjoy learning about what makes each community unique. I work to understand the local policy and utility opportunities to save energy, and I enjoy collaborating with allies such as business leaders, chambers of commerce, and local nonprofits that are as passionate about saving energy as we are at IMT.
The Small Business Energy Initiative is a perfect example of how IMT uses its in-the-field experience to work with local communities in new ways. Through the Initiative, we are equipping local chambers of commerce and other business-supporting organizations with step-by-step resources and strategies for engaging small businesses on energy efficiency. Reaching the small business sector requires creativity, locally relevant resources, and trusted partners. Dispersed regionally, the Initiative works in partnership with a growing number of organizations across the country, including the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce in Traverse City, Mich., the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce in Chapel Hill, N.C., and the Small Business Association of Michigan, as well as the Great Plains Institute and Lake Street Council in Minneapolis, Minn.
Each organization is uniquely positioned to educate small businesses and enhance energy efficiency opportunities with tailored training, incentives, and connections to utilities, financing, and service provider networks. So far, mobilizing chambers to be energy efficiency leaders has connected over 400 small businesses in four communities to previously untapped energy efficiency and savings opportunities, identifying $2.9 million in potential energy savings across 7.5 million square feet. In small businesses, smart energy decisions can create a significant increase in profit and savings that go directly back to the local economy and their communities, which is the most exciting impact of our work in these areas.
What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?
The biggest challenge I face is how to help businesses and organizations take real action on energy efficiency — educating them on energy-saving techniques is just a first step in making energy efficiency a plausible, valuable, and exciting component to add to a company’s existing goals and implement widely and confidently. When organizations first consider the value of energy efficiency, they often identify significant barriers such as initial cost, uncertainty over value, and lack of expertise. I’m proud that IMT helps organizations move past these barriers and helps them understand the true value of more efficient buildings. We continue to define that value within pure cost-savings, occupant health, wellness, resiliency, and other major benefits.
What are you hoping to learn in 2018?
I am focused on new solutions to increase energy savings for small businesses, where energy continues to be a top cost that eats up a lot of valuable revenue. The Small Business Energy Initiative is a first drive toward identifying solutions for small businesses nationwide, and we’re just getting started. I also want to explore the intersection of energy efficiency with wellness, resiliency, and climate equity.
Learn more about Green Lease Leaders at www.greenleaseleaders.com.
Learn more about the Small Business Energy Initiative here.