Decarbonizing CRE: Cortex’s Lisa Rockefeller shares key energy management insights with the Tangent Proptech Podcast

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In a recent episode of the Tangent Proptech Podcast, Lisa Rockefeller, Cortex’s Chief Revenue Officer, spoke with host Edward Cohen about the challenge of decarbonizing commercial real estate. Lisa and Edward’s discussion traversed a range of topics, from aligning stakeholder incentives to driving building efficiency in real-time. 

While we recommend listening to the full episode, here are some of Lisa’s key insights:

1. CRE’s carbon problem is complex but addressable

Office decarbonization is exceptionally complex due to the wide array of stakeholders involved in managing each property. As Lisa Rockefeller notes, a typical administrative org chart for an office is likely to feature “four or five different corporate stakeholders – none of whom work for the same [company].” With so many logos contracted to perform different roles in the same building, you can see why it might be challenging for each team to access the information they need from other departments to consistently make informed, sustainable choices that interplay with one another. “We’re bridging the gap with individuals who have no shared lexicon,” she explains.

Despite these issues, Rockefeller remains optimistic, urging the industry to continue striving to enhance alignment, collaboration, and data-driven decision-making. “Tech is an enablement tool, but people decarbonize buildings,” she insists, emphasizing the critical role of stakeholder commitment in achieving sustainability goals. We just need to work to foster better “governance and alignment” between the people, processes, and technologies tying organizations together to make it easier.

2. Operational excellence starts with real-time data insights

Achieving operational excellence and reducing carbon emissions requires more than static ESG reports. According to Rockefeller, “Our goal isn’t just to understand the consumption footprint of those assets; it’s really to change it.” By collecting and analyzing data from building management systems (BMS), occupancy sensors, and utility meters in real time, digital tools like Cortex can equip operators with precise recommendations to reduce energy waste and optimize their equipment schedules. They can also inform “how your costs are accruing… and how time of use, procurement, [and] energy intensity is translating… into emissions.” Real estate professionals at every level of an organization can use Cortex to coordinate action and track their progress toward sustainability goals, improving internal visibility across teams so that they can work together to stay on track. As a client once remarked about Cortex to Rockefeller, “It’s like Waze for my building.”

3. Strategies like Green Leasing can help foster alignment

Green Leases, rental agreements designed to incentivize tenants to participate in energy conservation, can help foster collaboration between tenants and owners to minimize energy waste. “Tenants are on the hook for energy costs, and they don’t want to be billed for poor energy decisions,” Rockefeller emphasizes. By convincing tenants to agree to reduce heating and cooling during non-peak hours, both parties can progress toward their sustainability objectives. This approach bridges the gap between tenants and owners and gives engineers more leeway to pursue cutting-edge energy management strategies without fear of tenant reprisal. 

The bottom line

The insights Lisa Rockefeller shared with the Tangent Proptech Podcast offer a roadmap for commercial real estate stakeholders to follow to achieve their ambitious sustainability targets. By working to improve internal alignment, embracing data-driven decision-making, and fostering tenant-owner collaboration through green leasing and other creative strategies, the commercial real estate sector can supercharge its ongoing sustainability efforts.

Tune in to the full Tangent Proptech Podcast episode to listen to the full conversation!

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