In the bustling world of New York, where towering skyscrapers dominate the city’s skyline, real estate owners’ decarbonization efforts are increasingly under the microscope. We sat down with Nick Bienstock – the CEO of Savanna, a leading vertically-integrated real estate investment manager – to discuss how Cortex’s platform has helped the firm progress towards their environmental objectives in alignment with the New York environmental efforts.
Cortex has also empowered Savanna to progress towards their carbon reduction goals at scale. The firm currently oversees some 7 million square feet of office space. “Cortex has allowed us to operate our buildings’ central plants much more efficiently… cutting electricity utilization across our portfolio by approximately 10%, which is a huge number.”
Solving commercial real estate’s carbon problem
“The real estate business, interestingly, is one of the largest capital-intensive businesses in the world. But frankly, in many ways, it’s a dinosaur,” shares Nick. In a rapidly changing world, where carbon emission targets and sustainability mandates have begun to dictate the roadmap to success, Nick believes that Savanna has discovered a vital tool that’s shifting the paradigm. “Cortex has been a critical tool for us in moving toward carbon reduction and expense reduction across our entire portfolio… it is arguably the best choice for any owner who’s facing those same challenges because it provides an immediate result without massive capital investment.”
What makes Cortex so unique? Unlike traditional carbon reduction solutions, Cortex delivers immediate results without breaking the bank. Nick explains, “Most of the things you can do to reduce the carbon footprint of your buildings are major capital-intensive decisions. Cortex is an AI-enabled machine learning software solution that we can implement that immediately reduces our carbon footprint. He emphasized, “Cortex is probably the cheap, easy, actionable first step that every building owner should use.”
Showcasing decarbonization achievements
The pressure to reduce carbon emissions doesn’t just stem from eco-conscious intentions. It’s woven into the fabric of the industry itself. “Major institutional investors, specifically pension funds, insurance companies, and other large-scale investors are requiring firms like Savanna to implement best practices across their portfolio,” Nick clarifies.
Given that other capital-intensive reforms tend to be implemented individually on a property-to-property basis as needed, Cortex’s multi-property installation has empowered Savanna to communicate its green achievements to third parties visually using a platform that’s “intuitive, informative, and relatively simple – which allows it to be efficient, both in terms of its delivery of information and ability to track progress over time.” This has allowed Savanna to quantify and showcase its initiatives to investors, which is critical. As Nick puts it, “if you are not meeting those high standards [of carbon reduction] they’re unlikely to invest with you.”
Generating value for Savanna
Cortex was an obvious choice for Savanna as a carbon reduction partner, Nick explained, because the platform does more than collect data: “Cortex, when it attaches to the building’s central plant, tracks all of that information… then analyzes it and comes back to the engineer with real-time actionable suggestions.” These implemented suggestions have served to dramatically reduce Savanna’s electricity consumption across its portfolio and produced a tangible, financial impact on their bottom line. Nick pointed to 110 William Street, a million-square-foot property owned by Savanna, which has enjoyed astonishing energy savings since Cortex’s implementation: “We implemented Cortex at 110 William and we’re saving about, I think, approximately $250,000-per-year… And when that $250,000-a-year drops to the bottom line, it’s at a five cap. That’s a $5 million increase of value to the building. So not only is the building operating more efficiently, reducing carbon at a lower cost, but Cortex has allowed us to increase the value of the building by five $5 million, which is extraordinary.” In Nick’s mind, this made Cortex stand out against other industry leaders: “Cortex is an immediate technology solution that not only helps significantly reduce your carbon footprint, it actually saves you money.”
Savanna’s 110 William Street
Partnering to pursue sustainable solutions
Savanna and Cortex’s partnership remains a testament to the two firms’ shared belief in the transformative potential of innovation and collaboration. When asked why it works so well, Nick said that Savanna’s relationship with Cortex has produced results because “they’re also bringing a high level of personal service and relationship that’s paired hand in hand with technology. That helps our teams implement [Cortex’s suggestions] and operate the buildings significantly more efficiently.” As the world marches towards a greener future, Savanna is undoubtedly leading the charge in New York City. Bringing on Cortex stands out in Nick’s eyes as one of several trailblazing decisions that the firm has made to help chart a more green future for New York commercial space. Their efforts alone suggest that the real estate industry is increasingly ready to evolve from its ‘dinosaur’ state, one carbon-efficient building at a time.
Cortex uses AI to help commercial real estate cost-effectively turn their sustainability commitments into action for today, tomorrow, and 2030. The decarbonization platform purpose-built for office buildings – Cortex helps teams optimize operations, make intelligent capital investment decisions, and reduce risk.