Four years ago, global investment giant BNY Mellon obtained LEED-EB Gold certification for 525 William Penn Place in Pittsburgh. Today, the building remains among the largest in the city with that distinction, and BNY Mellon has grown its portfolio of efficient buildings, saving the company $48 million in the process.
“We want to be good environmental stewards, but there’s also a financial incentive,” says Drew Schechtman, BNY Mellon’s energy and sustainability manager.
BNY Mellon’s sustainability efforts were formalized in 2008 after the Bank of New York merged with Mellon Financial Corporation to form BNY Mellon and the board established a corporate social responsibility (CSR) committee, which set sustainability-related goals. One of those goals was to target key facilities for efficiency improvements and inclusion in programs such as Energy Star and LEED.
Today, the firm takes a “full lifecycle approach” to real estate, looking at design and construction, operations and maintenance, and leasing from both a sustainability and operational efficiency approach. It can be a challenge, Schechtman says, especially in buildings such as 525 William Penn Place, which also has other tenants. “Getting a whole building certified requires us to educate and engage others so they know what they can do to help us,” he says.
Because BNY Mellon has a small sustainability team, partners that know the company’s goals and expectations are essential. To that end, sustainability consultants such as H.F. Lenz, Gensler, and Vidaris have been invaluable, Schechtman says. “They’re on the cutting edge of technology, and bringing new ideas to us is a key part of what they do,” he says. “They’re also on the job, overseeing our efforts when we can’t be.”
The results have been impressive, both at 525 William Penn Place and beyond. The Pittsburgh building, for its part, decreased energy consumption by 12 percent through the use of lighting-control systems and variable frequency drives that adjust the power supplied to motors based on demand. Other buildings have achieved similar accomplishments; five are LEED-EB certified, and 23 are certified under LEED’s rating for interiors.
It is important, Schechtman says, for companies to be transparent in their efforts. “As a financial firm, we have to consider that our investors and shareholders will be looking for certain things in terms of sustainability and be open about the risks and opportunities throughout the company,” he says. BNY Mellon participates in the Carbon Disclosure Project, which scores major corporations for greenhouse gas emissions and related disclosure, and scored an A for performance and a 100 for disclosure in 2013.