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AT&T and RMI Developing Energy Strategy for 65,000 Buildings

Rocky Mountain Institute and AT&T are working together to improve energy efficiency across the company’s 65,000 facilities in over 60 countries, and share the results with others, as part of the 2012 Portfolio Energy RetroFit Challenge.

Launched by RMI earlier this year, the Portfolio RetroFit Challenge aims to demonstrate to building owners and operators that deep energy retrofits are both technically feasible and financially prudent, especially “when applied at scale,” RMI says.

Institute and AT&T teams will start with a portfolio-wide analysis of the company’s facilities to determine how efficiency improvements can make the biggest impact. They will then create a long-term capital and construction schedule for retofits and other efficiency measures, making sure that the right technologies, business processes and operational strategies are used at the right time, RMI said.

This will then feed into a “shared framework” to be disseminated to other companies. RMI buildings consultant Coreina Chan said this is important because companies have made progress on a building-by-building basis, but the project will allow large portfolio owners to pursue 50 percent or greater savings across multiple buildings.

AT&T says that as demand for its products and services increases, energy management becomes more critical to the company’s success. Building energy use is particularly important because buildings are the largest contributor to energy use, energy cost, and carbon footprint in the company.

In 2011, AT&T implemented more than 4,500 efficiency projects that created an annualized savings of $42 million, the company says. The Portfolio RetroFit Challenge aims to build on this success to drive larger energy savings and enhance the company’s competitive advantage, AT&T says.

The challenge is intended to be a model for companies to select efficiency improvements that support important corporate real estate goals, such as improving space utilization or improving occupant satisfaction and demand. RMI sees that as key because the country’s 120 million buildings consume 42 percent of the US’s total energy and 72 percent of its electricity. The annual cost to fuel and power buildings is $400 billion – as much as the country spent on Medicare in 2009 – and much of this is wasted, RMI says. The institute’s research shows that building efficiency improvements could conservatively represent $1.4 trillion in savings over the next 40 years

In July, Michael C. Polentz and Clayton B. Gantz of law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phllips wrote a column for Environmental Leader detailing 10 reasons why energy retrofits will be the next big thing. First on their list is new financial tools by lenders, academics and entrepreneurs to facilitate underwriting the economic benefits. Federal, state and local legislation on carbon emissions will also lead to more retrofits, according to Polentz and Gantz.

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