They’ve saved over 30 million gallons of water, enough energy for 1.7 million Americans per year, and affected over 14 million square feet of property: After months of planning and intense competition, Urban Green Council will unveil the winners of the third annual EBie Awards on June 9.

The EBies award high performing existing buildings and the people who make those projects possible. Projects are awarded on the basis of “measurable improvements in performance,” whether through renovations, retrofitting, retro-commissioning, upgrades, tenant or building operator education, or improvements in operation and management.

Here are the finalists, with a highlight we’ve selected from each award category:

Award: The All-Rounder

This award recognizes the most improved building over multiple sustainability categories.

Finalist: Chris Pinelli
Real Estate Manager, CBRE
Project: The Art of Practical Sustainability
Pittsburgh, PA | Commercial Office
513,017 sq. ft.

Finalist: John Smith
Operations Manager, Commonwealth Partners
Project: City National Plaza
Los Angeles, CA | Commercial Building
3,607,788 sq. ft.

Finalist: Sammie Baker
Senior Property Manager, Parkway Properties
Project: Frost Bank Tower
Austin, TX | Commercial Office 569,345 sq. ft.

Frost Bank Tower EBieSammie Baker is a Senior Property Manager with Parkway Properties, Inc. and has managed Frost Bank Tower since September of 2005. Thanks to her efforts, Frost Bank Tower was the first downtown high rise office building in Austin to earn the LEED Gold O&M Certification in December of 2010. Sammie earned her LEED Green Associate designation from the GBCI at the same time. Since earning the LEED Gold rating, Frost Bank Tower also earned the BOMA 360 Designation and was a local BOMA TOBY recipient.

The first step to making a set of smart changes is finding good data, so after some lackluster results on their first try, Sammie’s team got creative in their data collection: laptops and iPads were placed in the building’s lobbies, and incentives like breakfast burritos, granola bars, and fresh coffee were used to generate essential tenant participation in surveys.

Armed with this information, the team was able to launch a successful lamp purchasing plan, implement smoking and green cleaning policies, begin an indoor air treatment program as well as an indoor integrated pest management plan, and introduce a Green Tenant Improvement Guide.

Because of the unique set of challenges facing buildings in Texas, Sammie’s team streamlined procedures that led to more efficient data collection and reporting, making it easier to share best practices and other techniques with other buildings in the area. It also led to greater data transparency, as well as a reduction in time and effort when staff implemented these new changes.

Award: Smooth Operator

This award recognizes the most improved building across two or more sustainability categories achieved solely through improved operations and maintenance (not capital improvements).

Finalist: Brad Collins
Senior Property Manager, CommonWealth Partners
Project: 560 Mission
San Francisco, CA | Commercial Office
778,782 sq. ft.

Finalist: Gary Sechler
Engineering Manager, Winthrop Management
Project: Steel has a New Reputation in the Burgh (US Steel Tower)
Pittsburgh, PA | Commercial Office
3,041,000 sq. ft.

Finalist: Heidi Silveira
Property Manager, Parkway Properties
Project: Cal/EPA Building
Sacramento, CA | Commercial Office
950,000 sq. ft.

Heidi Silveira keeps the Cal/EPA Building running strong with continual improvements. “I’ve got to see the worms—I’ve heard about the worms,” said Heidi Silveira when she started at Cal/EPA Headquarters in 2006, referring to the property’s composting program. Since then, the Sacramento, CA structure has received a LEED-EBOM Platinum rating, and come to set the standard for green initiatives in the area. Heidi got her start working downtown San Francisco, and prior to her work at Cal/EPA, she assisted in the management of high-rises in Sacramento and Oakland.
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Cal-EPA Building EBiesBuilt in 2000, Sacramento’s Cal/EPA building isn’t old by most standards, which makes the work done by Heidi and her team to keep the building in top shape all the more remarkable. As Sacramento’s largest high-rise real estate project, and with a LEED Platinum rating earned in 2003, the types of changes needed to be considered for our Smooth Operator award had to be as innovative as they were creative.

By becoming one of the first buildings in the country to switch to daytime janitorial services over 10 years ago, the team was able to uncover enormous utility savings; elimination of garbage can liners and the switch to reusable cloth bags in centrally-located recycling bins saves nearly the same amount.

The property also plays host to worm composting onsite, and boasts 25 electric vehicle charging stations, a dedicated indoor bike room for 150 bicycles, and the use of non-toxic, non-odor, and biodegradable cleaning products. To save energy, the property now has 736 solar panels, UV-reflecting modular panels, solar shade overhangs, and high-efficiency chillers.

Award: Power to the People

This award recognizes the greatest percentage reduction in building energy use.

Finalist: Steven Post
Executive Director, Hebrew SeniorLife
Project: Jack Satter House
Revere, MA | Residential Building
259,600 sq. ft.

Finalist: Ryan Merkin
Vice President - Director of Multifamily Energy Services, Steven Winter Associates, Inc.
Project: Energy Efficient Renovation at Twin Parks
Bronx, NY | Residential Building
368,640 sq. ft.

Ryan Merkin leads Twin Parks to the peaks of energy efficiency. As Vice President and Director of Multifamily Energy Services at Steven Winter Associates (SWA) you could say Ryan Merkin is all about “home, sweet home.” From energy auditing and analysis to design and implementation, his work enables effective retrofits of existing housing and increasing sustainability in new construction using standards such as LEED, Enterprise Green Communities, and Energy Star. Outside of SWA, Merkin is equally engaged in building energy efficient, comfortable homes as a board member of the NY Chapter of the Association of Energy Engineers.

Twin Parks EBiesWith 100% occupancy and a population of low-income tenants occupying its 274 units, one of the main challenges at Twin Parks in the Bronx was to make huge changes without creating a huge disruption for the community. To do this, Omni New York, Renewal Construction, and SWA approached the project from the inside out: large system upgrades included replacement of electric heating with a hydronic distribution system, variable frequency drives for heating circulation pumps, an energy management system, and revamping the ventilation system.

Along with core retrofits, the envelope of the entire building was reinforced with air-sealing, compartmentalization, and installation of double-pane windows. Lighting levels were improved and hundreds of security cameras installed in common areas, in addition to aesthetic renovations within apartments. All of these changes added up to a safer, more comfortable home environment for the tenants of Twin Parks, and a higher performance building for owners and operators.

Award: Verdant Brainiac

This award recognizes the most innovative green renovation project, particularly one that overcame significant barriers (cost, institutional, technological) in a manner that is scalable.

Finalist: Vicki Sando

Active Parent and Environmental Science Program Developer, PS41
Project: The GELL Project
New York, NY | Educational Facility
15,000 sq. ft.

Finalist: Gary Sechler
Engineering Manager, Winthrop Management
Project: Steel has a New Reputation in the Burgh (US Bank Building)
Pittsburgh, PA | Commercial Office
3,041,000 sq. ft.

Gary Sechler Innovates with Rebates at the US Steel Tower. In over 15 years of leading the Engineering team at the US Steel Tower, Gary Sechler has become known as a man of practicality, well-versed in management, utility purchasing, and a tenant liaison for engineering. Building on a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from North Carolina State University, Sechler developed his management skills through his work at several companies in Pittsburgh and North Carolina, and by staying active in the Building Owners and Managers Association of Pittsburgh.

US Steel Tower EBiesHelping a nearly 50-year-old building go green, on top of running its day-to-operations, takes speed and dedication. Gary and his team leveraged rebates to help complete 14 energy efficiency projects in three years. Spurred on by energy efficiency rebates offered through Pennsylvania’s Act 129, Gary Sechler’s engineering team worked with consultants from Enerlogics to complete 11 lighting retrofit projects and 3 metering and controls projects one after another between 2010 and 2012.

Rebates totaled over $700,000 for these energy efficiency projects, with ongoing savings from cutting energy consumption by nearly 30%. US Steel’s retrofits have demonstrated and driven the success of Act 129 and the Watt Choice rebate program in Pittsburgh.

Award: Shine a Light on Me

This award recognizes the best lighting retrofit, as measured in energy performance, productivity enhancement and good design.

Finalist: Nana Wilberforce
VP, Energy Manager, The PNC Financial Services Group
Project: Lighting Retrofit at Two PNC Plaza
Pittsburgh, PA | Commercial Office
648,808 sq. ft.

Finalist: Robert Best
Executive VP, Jones Lang LaSalle
Project: Miami Tower LED Exterior Color Lighting Project
Miami, FL | Commercial Office
266,120 sq. ft.

Nearly three decades at Jones Lang LaSalle have given Robert Best know-how in all facets of property management. As Executive Vice President and Head of Energy and Sustainability, Robert directs business development, energy reduction programs, client sustainability, performance metrics, operating standards, and training as the green building market continues to expand. Since earning his MBA in finance from the University of Chicago and Bachelor of Science in journalism from Northwestern University, he’s continued his learning as a LEED AP and a Green Globes Professional.

Miami Tower EBiesFor 27 years, Miami Tower has stood out against the city’s skyline, illuminated by 200 metal halide light arrays. Today, it continues to stand out physically and environmentally after Robert’s team at Jones Lang LaSalle collaborated with LED Source to replace the halide system with an energy-efficient LED lighting system.

This project has achieved enormous savings in energy consumption and cut overall lighting costs by over $300,000 per year, while also requiring less time and labor for maintenance.

Even with the costs of engineering structures up to the challenge of Miami’s extreme weather, the expected payback period is less than 4 years, and New York City’s Empire State Building has a similar system recently installed by JLL. These systems are lighting the way to better buildings all along the East Coast and beyond.

Award: Take me to the River

This award recognizes the building with the highest percentage of savings in potable water based on Before and After data.

Finalist: Steven Post
Executive Director, Hebrew SeniorLife
Project: Jack Satter House
Revere, MA | Residential Building
259,600 sq. ft.

Finalist: John Smith
Operations Manager, Commonwealth Partners
Project: City National Plaza
Los Angeles, CA | Commercial Building
3,607,788 sq. ft.

John Smith made landmark changes at LA Landmark at City National Plaza to create millions in savings. A former Marine, John Smith was promoted to Operations Manager for his current portfolio of buildings in November of 2010. As OM, he leads a diverse team of professionals who provide contracting, construction coordination, and quality assurance. Fifteen million square feet of Class A commercial office space rely on John and his team for project management and construction project supervision, heating and air conditioning central plant management, building safety and security, janitorial service supervision, and grounds maintenance. Strong information and data analysis are a key part of John’s strategy, allowing him to ensure projects are completed on time and budget, and that tenants enjoy a healthy and sustainable work environment.

City National Plaza EBiesTo retrofit a single 52-story tower would be hard enough, but to breathe new life into a pair of them more than doubles the challenge. Whether installing lighting upgrades, replacing both chillers and boilers, modernizing elevators, or adding robust Building Automation Systems, work at City National Plaza’s twin towers meant John and his team needed to take a strategic and holistic approach.

Both the building’s status as a historical landmark and the asbestos in its core walls created a unique set of challenges for the team to overcome, but despite these they were able to create millions of dollars in cost savings by considering their retrofit from all angles. They made changes from the inside with initiatives like their Green Tenant Improvement Guide and annual Green Tenant competition, and the outside by undertaking projects like wet-sealing the property’s exterior.

This commitment to the environment is rounded out by developments beyond the building’s walls, such as its eight electric vehicle charging stations; bike racks, storage, and shower facilities for bicycle commuters; and environmentally-friendly shuttle busses.

Winners will be announced at a gala event taking place on June 9, 2014 at the Hard Rock Café Theater in New York City. For tickets and more details about all of the finalists, visit the EBie Awards website.

Images courtesy Urban Green Council