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Retrofitting Buildings: A Blueprint for Decarbonization Strategies


October 19, 2023


For existing buildings, “decarbonization”, “retrofits”, and “energy efficiency” are the words of the day. Reducing green-house gas emissions is increasingly important for corporate, investor, and tenant real estate portfolios, affecting building values and leasing rates1. Energy efficiency drives more reduction in emissions (and reductions in energy costs and risks) than renewables2.

If you own or manage a large existing building, you are probably already thinking about all this.

With so much going on in the market these last couple of years, the regulatory requirements and deadlines for Energize Denver3 may have crept up on you. Other deadlines for Building Performance Colorado4 will be coming soon.

The time to start planning for decarbonization is now if you haven’t already begun.


Before January 2024

              Ensure your building can perform at the level of the first EUI energy efficiency target to avoid potentially hefty fees.

Do you know if your building can do this? You have two months to find out!

The good news is that 95% or so of buildings have been submitting the required benchmarking data over the last few years and therefore are allowed an alternative of 2025 for the first efficiency target.

If that includes your building, that is great – you have an extra 12 months to develop your decarbonization strategy!

Do you know if your building falls into the Right-Away or the Still-Pretty-Darn-Soon category?

With a 30 minute initial consultation we can help you get on track We also can help with next steps of strategic planning and program management for implementation.

Dec. 31, 2024 (alternatively, 2025)

Request a Target Adjustment

Do this if your building’s 2019 baseline benchmarking data was wrong, needs more detail, or if for other reasons it needs recalculating. Depending on the type and size of adjustments, the final 2030 EUI Target could change, as well as the interim targets, and impact your entire decarbonization strategy.

WHAT TO DO NOW – Make sure you are at the correct starting line

Hire 3rd party Data Verification to review your 2019 benchmarking data.

  • The city estimates only about 35% of data submissions have been done correctly and completely. One company doing several data verifications told me almost ALL the projects they have done so far needed data corrections.
  • By June 2025 (alternatively 2026) you will need to submit 3rd party Data Verification for 2024 (2025) data. That may be too late to find out you have a problem.

Submit a Target Adjustment if needed. DO NOT WAIT until too close to the deadline. You will lose valuable planning time and may have trouble finding the specialists you need amid all the others who also waited.

Start Developing a Strategic Decarbonization Plan to meet the 2030 target (or net-zero!)

Consider performing retro-commissioning5 and possibly upgrading BAS systems now. The benefit of getting a 5-20% improvement in energy efficiency just from this one strategy could help you meet your first EUI interim target and buy you time to do a more thorough plan for the rest. And the process will highlight key areas for strategic focus.

Next blog: What are the options and challenges of requesting a Timeline Adjustment?

Oakville Building Advisors suspects many buildings will need one, and they are not simple.

References & Resources:

  1. Guy Grainger, “To create net-zero cities, we need to look hard at our older buildings; Retrofitting existing real estate is critical to cutting carbon emissions.” JLL, November 7, 2022.
  2. Sam Butler-Sloss, Kingsmill Bond, “The Eight Deadly Sins of Analyzing the Energy Transition,” RMI, 13 Oct. 2023.
  3. Energize Denver Hub for Buildings > 25,000sf
  4. Colorado Energy Office Building Performance Colorado’s Building Performance Standards for Buildings > 50,000sf
  5. Jeffrey Miller, “How to Get Retro-commissioning Right,”

See also:

A great video on the sustainable adaptive re-use of a building in Atlanta, GA by JLL.

A great overview called “How to Retrofit” by Cushman & Wakefield.

Notice a pattern here? There are a LOT of smart folks and many companies, big and small (like OBA), working to help building owners successfully decarbonize their assets.

© 2023 Oakville Building Advisors