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Every Day is Earth Day for These Companies — Thanks to Their Buildings

Integrated facility management data tracks five practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and costs

CHICAGO, April 22, 2014 – Long strides are better than baby steps on the journey towards a carbon-neutral world. The muscle behind these strides is often real estate. Nearly one-fifth of the energy purchased in the United States  is consumed by corporate and institutional facilities—not even including manufacturing plants—according to the U.S. Department of Energy. To reduce energy consumption and its costs, some of the world’s largest companies share five practices that help them report improvements each year.

“From the original “tight buildings” of the 1970s, energy efficient buildings and management practices have come a long way,” said Chris Pesek, Director of Integrated Facilities Management at JLL. “Today, smart building technologies, efficient lighting fixtures, strategic sourcing and sophisticated management make it possible for building owners to reduce energy costs while actually improving comfort and functionality.”

JLL provides integrated facility management and other real estate services to more than 300 of the Fortune 500, including leading companies in financial services, consumer products, life sciences and technology. According to Pesek, the companies most focused on energy efficiency typically share five strategies:

  1. Keep it simple—at first. Before a company jumps into a significant energy-focused capital program, it’s best to make sure that the simplest steps have been taken to immediately reduce energy bills. This process typically begins with an energy use audit. When a major manufacturer sought to curb rising energy costs across its corporate real estate portfolio, JLL helped the company identify 253 energy-saving projects. Many involved little or no capital investment, but a simple recalibration of each building’s heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) equipment and other systems in a process known as “commissioning” to optimize building performance. The manufacturer has reduced its energy spend in its corporate facilities by almost 10 percent for each of the past seven years. 

    Similarly, JLL helped another global manufacturer reduce energy costs in 16 distribution centers. Following an energy performance assessment of each facility, JLL identified dozens of opportunities for improvement. Simple changes included reprogramming the exhaust fans to run only when temperatures and humidity conditions dictated instead of around the clock. High-occupancy office areas and loading dock areas were insulated to reduce air loss and HVAC usage. 
  2. Get smart: install smart building systems and smart building managed services. “Many companies are adopting smart building systems or upgrading older building automation systems to today’s more sophisticated versions,” said Dan Probst, Chairman of Energy and Sustainability Services at JLL. “Smart buildings—operated with computer-controlled, automated systems—have been proven to save energy, streamline facilities management and prevent potentially catastrophic building equipment failures.” Thanks to price drops in key technologies, smart building investments typically pay for themselves within one or two years. Coupled with smart building managed services and software, a smart building program can generate a positive return on investment within months. 
  3. Bring in the best Ideas: use third-party energy sourcing services. A third-party energy-procurement partner, who may be a company’s real estate services provider, can contribute significantly to energy cost reduction. This partner can review the corporate real estate portfolio, identify multiple procurement options, negotiate supplier contracts and manage commodity price risks on a property occupier or investor’s behalf, and may also be able to recommend alternative energy solutions. Through strategic energy sourcing, a major human resource consulting firm, for example, reduced its energy costs in 17 Midwest facilities by nearly 18 percent over four years.
  4. Light up the night—not the day: adopt energy-efficient lighting techniques. Up to 40 percent of the electricity used in commercial office buildings comes from lighting. It’s no wonder that lighting retrofits are often a first step toward reducing energy costs with relatively low-cost investments over time. Simple, no-cost management techniques can also cut costs, such as using motion detectors in stairwells, storage rooms, closets and other little-used spaces to keep lights dimmed or off when no one is present. Smart lighting controls can sense daylight and occupancy, and control artificial light accordingly. 
  5. Get certified: pursue the ENERGY STAR® for Buildings and Plants certification. A program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,  ENERGY STAR certification for buildings is similar to the ENERGY STAR program for consumer appliances. ENERGY STAR provides benchmarking tools and actionable information to help owners, investors and managers assess their properties, set energy conservation goals and work to achieve them. More than 6,200 buildings now carry the ENERGY STAR label, meaning that they are more energy efficient than 75 percent of comparable U.S. facilities.

About JLL
JLL (NYSE:JLL) is a professional services and investment management firm offering specialized real estate services to clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying and investing in real estate. With annual revenue of $4 billion, JLL operates in 75 countries worldwide. On behalf of its clients, the firm provides management and real estate outsourcing services for a property portfolio of 3 billion square feet and completed $99 billion in sales, acquisitions and finance transactions in 2013. Its investment management business, LaSalle Investment Management, has $47.6 billion of real estate assets under management. For further information, visit