In just 12 years, Deutsche Bank has improved the performance of almost every building system in its U.S. headquarters at 60 Wall Street in Manhattan. The financial organization has replaced chillers, restroom fixtures, and lighting systems. It installed solar panels on the roof, increased steam condensate reclamation for reuse, started replacing filters more frequently, and improved elevators through regenerative drives that produce energy as it’s spent.

Originally built in 1985 as the headquarters for JP Morgan & Company, Deutsche Bank took over the 55-story property in 2001. After seeing how the major building systems operated, and reviewing monthly utility bills for the tower’s 1.7 million square feet of office space, Deutsche Bank decided it was time to improve water and energy efficiency.

Deutsche Bank photo by Mike Roberts

Deutsche Bank’s sustainability program and environmental approach stem from its desire to be as efficient as it can be in everything it does. Photo credit: Mike Waters

“We set a goal in 2008 to reduce our corporate carbon footprint by 20 percent a year to achieve carbon neutrality by 2012,” says Glen Neville, global lead for sustainability and energy management, corporate real estate services. Deutsche Bank’s 60 Wall Street high-rise met its reduction goal last year, and now operates with a net zero carbon footprint. It has also received LEED: EB+OM Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The company was even recognized by the Urban Green Council (a division of the U.S. Green Building Council) with an inaugural EBie Award in 2012. Deutsche Bank took home the All-Rounder, an award that acknowledges the most improved building across two or more sustainability categories.

Deutsche Bank’s sustainability program and environmental approach stem from its desire to be as efficient as it can be in everything it does. “Whether we’re focusing on green building standards, green leases, water conservation, waste reduction, or shrinking our carbon footprint, all of these things help us be more efficient with the services we use and the services we deliver to our occupants,” explains Neville. “We truly consider it a program, not a project.”

But it takes more than new, state-of-the-art system upgrades to improve building performance as much as Deutsche Bank has. So how do they do it? Through teamwork, support from leadership, and forward thinking … and by keeping these five points in mind no matter what type of upgrade or retrofit they’re working on.

Don’t Focus on a Single Green Technology
Neville’s team is careful not to be lured into a specific technology or system without doing background research. “You may want to address lighting, cooling, or heating, but to do so effectively requires you to step back and truly take a look at your facility to understand how that system operates and interacts with other systems,” says Neville. “Only then can you make intelligent decisions about which investments will bring the most value to your operation.”

Courtesy of Deutsche Bank

The company has a wall of green tips, along with a monitor showing real-time energy consumption. Photo credit: Deutsche Bank

They don’t get hung up on trying to integrate a single product or service. “When we ask ourselves how our building runs and how we make it more efficient, we invariably find multiple approaches that will get us to increased efficiency levels,” says Neville.

But just because they don’t focus on a particular trend or technology doesn’t mean Deutsche Bank doesn’t stay on top of what’s happening in the industry. With so many recent developments in building efficiency, communication with manufacturers and service providers is one way the company stays on top of new sustainability solutions.

Within the last year, the facilities team has spoken to 20 different controls manufacturers. They’ve interacted with four software companies in the past month alone, looking at applications specifically designed for building efficiency. “From a technology standpoint, there’s a lot of good stuff going on that will drive the building of the future,” says Neville. “We’re interested in every one of these technologies to see how or if we can use them to make ourselves more efficient.”

Leveraging the company’s network is also extremely valuable to Deutsche Bank. Michael Koerner, vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle and global sustainability and energy manager for the Deutsche Bank account, says the facilities team talks to colleagues and other professionals around the globe to find out what’s been working for them.

“Very often, we’re told that a product can save us a significant amount of energy,” explains Koerner. “And not that we’re skeptical, but we really want to make sure we understand the offering and what it might do for our building in particular.”

Take a Holistic View
Deutsche Bank doesn’t have one bag of tricks it pulls from to improve performance across its portfolio. “Every facility has a unique fingerprint,” says Neville. “So buildings need to be treated differently.”

Photo by Matthew Bisanz

Originally built in 1985 JP Morgan & Company headquarters, Deutsche Bank took over the 55-story 60 Wall Street in 2001 and started working on building performance improvements. Photo credit: Matthew Bisanz

With the headquarters location at 60 Wall Street, the team started sustainability initiatives by identifying the areas in which they were least efficient. “We tried to attack what we call our ‘quick-win scenarios’ first,” says Neville.

As they did this, the team promptly learned that everything within a commercial high-rise builds on itself; one system rarely functions without affecting another.

A change to the building façade, for example, could affect total load on the chiller plant and impact chiller size. “Depending on the efficiencies made to the façade, you could perhaps install an 800-ton chiller that would be more efficient and require lower capital costs than the 1,000-ton chiller you originally considered,” says Koerner.

Deutsche Bank discovered many of these nuances as it worked to improve building performance. The trick, says Neville, is to understand how one project interlaces with another. “We certainly had unexpected things come along – both favorable and unfavorable – where a project performed 20 or 30 percent better than expected (or worse than expected) because of other projects that were happening simultaneously.” Once those lessons are learned, they’re shared across the global Deutsche Bank portfolio so other building operators can hear about them.

“If you take a holistic view,” emphasizes Neville, “it keeps you from making the wrong decision about doing project B first instead of project A.”

Ask Occupants for Sustainability Advice
Some of Deutsche Bank’s best sustainability ideas come from building occupants.

When it comes to infrastructure, Koerner says there’s only so much Deutsche Bank (or any organization) can do. “It’s up to the occupants to decide not to print, or to print double-sided, or to use the self-sorting waste areas on every floor. Tenants are a significant factor in achieving any organization’s water- and energy-reduction goals.”

The company created a sustainability team that’s made up of employees from different departments and backgrounds. The team meets regularly with the facilities department to discuss ideas and offer feedback.

“There are a couple of core infrastructure systems in every building that you could analyze and make decisions about in a few months to improve efficiency,” says Neville. “But it’s the smaller, low-cost changes that often drive big water and energy savings, and reduce runtime.”

He offers an example of a time when occupants helped influence a small change with big impact: Neville discovered, after talking to members of the sustainability team, that one floor in the building was no longer occupied from 7am to 7pm during the week. “Everyone was leaving by 5:45pm,” says Neville. “So we modified our controls and sensors to accommodate those hours. Small changes like that make for big impacts at the meter.”

The insight Neville and Koerner receive from occupants helps them make educated decisions. “We get so much good information from occupants who notice that the lights are on here at this time, or that it’s cold on this part of a floor,” says Neville. News like this is often leads him to discover problems with controls and HVAC systems.

Be Patient (and Reinvest Your Savings)
Deutsche Bank views its green program as a lasting investment. “We look at the money we’re putting in and the money we’re getting back, but we look at it long-term, not just, ‘What is it going to do for me right now or next year?’ ” explains Neville.

Courtesy of Deutsche Bank

By taking a holistic view of its building, Deutsche Bank understands that a change to the building façade could affect total load on the chiller plant.
Photo credit: Deutsche Bank

The company believes in investments that offer both long-term and short-term payback. “I hear a lot of people say they have to have an 18-month payback in order to invest in a green project,” says Neville. “In a lot of its properties, Deutsche Bank’s investments take multiple years to see a full return. But management understands total cost of ownership for these systems and how even long-term payback can offer savings.”

Neville thinks one of the reasons Deutsche Bank has been so successful at improving building performance and cost savings is because the company is more aggressive than other organizations when it comes to green investments.

Savings are often reinvested to fund other sustainability initiatives. In the cafeteria, for example, they stopped using cardboard trays that went to the landfill. “Instead, we started using plastic, reusable trays,” says Koerner. “We took the savings from that and invested it in changing the types of food storage containers we use in the kitchen and cafeteria.”

Don’t Dismiss a Green Opportunity

As part of its carbon reduction goal, Deutsche Bank put together an “Onsite Renewable Energy Playbook.” This playbook asks building operators a series of questions; the answers to those questions help the operator narrow in on the best renewable strategies for that particular situation.

“For 60 Wall Street, we went through that questionnaire. And what came out of our playbook was that solar PV was an option,” says Neville.

Installing a solar plant 750 feet in the air was going to be no small feat, so the team analyzed financial implications, logistical challenges, and the carbon reduction and cost savings it would offer. After the analyses were complete, the team liked the numbers they saw. Even though it seemed nearly impossible, Deutsche Bank decided to move forward with installing onsite solar panels.

“Finding a manufacturer that makes PV panel faces to withstand 200mph wind is difficult,” says Neville. “We couldn’t uncover more than two manufacturers in the world at that time to support such an install.” To make the solar installation a reality, Deutsche Bank had to find the right manufacturer and then take the equipment to a wind lab in Ontario to have it tested at certain wind speeds.

“The logistics were the hard part,” says Neville. “The decision-making, the fiscal case, and the return on investment from carbon reduction and cost standpoints were relatively straightforward if you ran the calculations and had a long-term view – because solar in New York certainly requires you to have a longer-term view.”

Completed in January 2012, Deutsche Bank’s solar installation (complete with 682 panels) is the largest in Manhattan, and the highest in the western hemisphere.

Deutsche Bank Signs up for NYC Carbon Challenge
Deutsche Bank recently became one of 10 charter members of New York City’s Carbon Challenge for commercial office buildings. As part of this challenge, the institution pledged a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from its New York City offices by 40 percent in the next 10 years.

This agreement comes after Deutsche Bank’s success with completing more than 80 distinct projects in New York City that have reduced energy use by 18.3 million kWh per year.

Read more here: Carbon Challenge

Leah Grout Garris

Leah Garris An award winning editor, Leah spent over eight years in senior editorial positions at both BUILDINGS magazine and ARCHI-TECH magazine. Her work has been incorporated into training and educational programs around the country. She is a graduate of University of Iowa. She is Editor at Large for High Rise Facilities.