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A dollar invested today in energy efficiency saves three dollars in future energy costs.


Increase commercial demand and availability of capital for replicable energy efficiency projects in buildings


A successful energy efficiency strategy will leverage the best global practices of policy-makers (benchmarking ordinances, assessment finance districts, credit enhancements), technologists (creating simple ways of auditing, commissioning, and optimizing), financiers (providing debt and equity to new asset classes), entrepreneurs (creating new energy efficiency structures like Property Assessed Clean Energy, Energy Savings Agreements, EE Power Purchase Agreements, third-party on-bill repayment), and nonprofits who can catalyze investment into projects and aggregate demand.

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The buildings where we live, work, and play are responsible for over nine billion tons of CO2e emissions per year—contributing 20% of the world’s annual CO2e output.

The building sector offers the most cost-effective opportunity for reducing carbon emissions, while simultaneously generating economic returns and creating jobs. While energy efficiency has been “low-hanging fruit” for several decades, adoption of comprehensive retrofit solutions has been limited by systemic challenges, including:

  • Demand Aggregation: To date, the lack of demand for retrofits has been the biggest obstacle preventing the industry from scaling. Many building owners only replace big-ticket building items like chillers and boilers when they break, rather than performing preventative maintenance that can proactively identify opportunities for comprehensive retrofits.
  • Lack of Upfront Capital: Building owners often have difficulty accessing capital to implement retrofits; buildings are often owned by special purpose entities with limited credit and with strict mortgage agreements that make getting loans for energy efficiency nearly impossible.
  • Split Incentives: Landlords often lack the financial incentives to make upgrades to buildings that benefit tenants and vice versa.
  • Fragmented Landscape: Unlike other industries like shipping and aviation that have a relatively small fleet of ships or planes, the global building sector is defined by heterogeneity. This diversity of building types, materials, and uses limits opportunities for scale.


Improving the efficiency of US buildings could generate $1.2 trillion in savings by 2020, based on an investment of less than half that. There is an especially strong opportunity for efficiency retrofits in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), given their scale: roughly 500 REITs own approximately 20% of the world’s commercial building stock, making them the largest commercial property owners and landlords in the world.

In identifying the opportunities in this sector, the Carbon War Room partnered with a wide range of stakeholders including financiers, technology and materials suppliers, engineers, consultants, entrepreneurs, municipal leaders, NGOs, and real estate owners and managers.

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Strategy & Progress

Working with the sector, we identified three key objectives that address the challenges and encourage greater efficiency in buildings:

Increase Availability of Capital for Replicable and Scalable Building Efficiency Projects

  • To date, we have helped launch the Ygrene-led commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, with nearly $15 million worth of funded projects in California and Florida and another $50 million in the pipeline
  • In 2014, we are working to support the creation of two new global consortia that deliver turnkey solutions that include technology deployment, availability of capital, and project implementation. The Operation is currently exploring projects ranging from hotels in the Asia-Pacific region, multi-family apartment buildings in Eastern Europe, and residential homes in Northern Europe

Increase Commercial Demand for Building Efficiency Retrofits

  • To date, we facilitated a few publicly disclosed (and several private) deals for building retrofits, including partnerships between Building Energy and the US Department of Energy, and Hara and Tishman Speyer. These deals were driven by a CWR-hosted series of “Deal Days” in Washington DC, London, Copenhagen, and Tokyo involving asset owners representing 3 billion square feet and pilot projects in excess of $5 million
  • Now, we are exploring whether there is an opportunity to create a useful ranking method for REITs that would empower financiers with the information necessary to make investment decisions based on the efficiency of a REIT’s building portfolio

Improve the Flow of Information about the Financial Benefits of Building Efficiency to Address the Perception of High Risk

  • In this area, we have focused on improving the flow of information to owners, asset managers, and tenants by providing the industry with information resources via our two whitepapers Raising the Roof: How to Create Climate Wealth through Efficient Buildings and Reduce Your Building Energy Consumption by 20% at Zero Cost, and through convenings at the Creating Climate Wealth Summits
  • We continue to focus on promoting and publicizing successful finance mechanisms and consortia, and are creating additional resources to support the consortia we are developing

Getting Involved with Building Efficiency

As an entrepreneurial nonprofit with no ‘skin in the game,’ we can offer unbiased advice to stakeholders within the energy efficiency ecosystem.

  • Building portfolio owners and managers: Access Carbon War Room guidance on available best-in-class technologies and finance solutions
  • Capital and technology providers currently operating at commercial scale: Benefit from the War Room’s network—we can explore opportunities to connect you to relevant market opportunities

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Advisory Board

Members of our advisory board lend their diverse perspectives and decades of experience to our work, enhancing our ability to transform the world's building stock.

Arnie Brown is Chief Financial Officer and co-founder of Apex Energy Efficiency Finance, Inc., a new company that has been created to finance energy efficiency investment in commercial real estate. He has over 30 years of experience in real estate investment, finance and portfolio management, restructuring and turnaround, in both public and private companies. He is also Principal and CFO of Apex Real Estate Advisors (since 1998) and has been involved in valuing and managing portfolios of non-listed real estate securities since 1983.

Mr. Brown advised Robertson Stephens, among others, on asset acquisitions, financings, management and financial restructuring of distressed investments. He has served as Chief Financial Officer and a Director of California Real Estate lnvestment Trust, an NYSE company now known as Capital Trust and as Chief Financial Officer of The Peregrine Real Estate Trust, where he was instrumental in their exit from bankruptcy. He started his career as a CPA, where he was a partner and member of six person National Real Estate Task Force at the accounting and consulting firm Grant Thornton.Arnie holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a BS Econ from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Ben Oppenheim is a Senior Fellow at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University. His research focuses on transnational security challenges and global public goods, economic development, and fragile and transitioning states. For the past decade, Ben has consulted with a range of multilateral, philanthropic, non-profit, and private sector actors on applied research, program design, organizational learning and strategy.

Dr. Oppenheim has held research fellowships from the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, UC Berkeley's Institute of International Studies, where he was a Simpson Fellow, and visiting fellowships at Uppsala University's Forum on Democracy, Peace, and Justice. He earned his doctorate from the University of California Berkeley, holds master's degrees from UC Berkeley and the London School of Economics, and has a bachelor's from Wesleyan University.

As Global Director of Corporate Responsibility, Dave Pogue oversees CBRE’s development, implementation and reporting for all aspects of corporate social responsibility, including environmental stewardship, community engagement and corporate giving.

Prior to his current role, Mr. Pogue led sustainability programs for CBRE’s property and facilities management portfolio around the globe, managing the development, introduction and implementation of a wide-ranging platform of sustainable practices and policies. His leadership in this area produced an award-winning sustainability platform leveraging thought leadership, service delivery and industry associations to raise worldwide green building standards. CBRE was also ranked in Newsweek’s list of the 500 greenest companies in the U.S. since the award’s inception, honored by the EPA as a seven-time ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year and recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council® with the Leadership Award for Organizational Excellence.

Craig M. Silvers is the President and CEO of Bricks & Mortar Capital, LLC, a registered investment adviser, established in 2002, and manages the Bricks & Mortar Real Estate Income Fund, LP, a private investment fund that focuses on the securities real estate investment trusts and other real estate firms.

From 1989 to 1994, Mr. Silvers was an equity analyst for Crowell, Weedon & Co., a regional investment banking firm based in Los Angeles. At Crowell, Weedon, Mr. Silvers’ coverage emphasis was REITs and homebuilders along with a variety of other industries. Prior to joining Crowell, Weedon, Mr. Silvers was an analyst at First Equity Group, a real estate owner/developer, and was a compliance examiner with the National Association of Securities Dealers.

Mr. Silvers has been widely quoted in media including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Forbes, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times,, Business Week, Bloomberg, Reuters, CNBC, CNN, Los Angeles Business Journal, Boston Herald, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, The Houston Post, and numerous other media outlets.

Alok Singh is a Director with RealFoundations® with 17+ years of experience providing energy and sustainability services in the built environment. Alok leads the Energy Solutions practice at RealFoundations®, a global management consultancy focused on helping companies in the real estate industry improve their operations and achieve their potential.

Mr. Singh and his team have worked with some of the most respected real estate organizations in the world helping them measure, manage and optimize their portfolio’s energy and environmental performance.

Previously, Mr. Singh led Southern California Edison’s Emerging Technologies, Codes & Standards and Emerging Markets & Technologies (DR) programs. In addition, Alok has served as a Chief Operating Officer in the ESCO industry and worked as an architect with a focus on energy and resource-conscious projects.

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