2015 Finalist: Power to the People

The greatest percentage reduction in building energy use.

Who led the charge

Mike Robbins                    Building Commission Specialist, Emory University


A hands-on Building Commission Specialist,Robbins spearheads the business school team’s Sustainable Performance Program, focusing on existing building re-commissioning and ongoing commissioning. A veteran building specialist, Robbins has logged 15 years in the Building Automation and Commissioning industries, two of those at Emory. With his oversight, Emory is averaging a 30 percent energy reduction in the facilities currently in Emory’s Sustainable Performance Program.


  • Understand current functional requirements (CFRs) of building

  • Protect recommissioning investment with continued monitoring

Goizueta School of Business, Emory University


Like a middle-aged high school athlete, it looked as though Emory University’s Goizueta Business School’s glory days were behind it. Although the business school’s home base received the country’s first LEED-EB Gold certification in 2004, its performance had degraded over time. 

Upon approval of a project to restore the building to its former glory, it was discovered that the repurposing of building space over time had compromised the facility’s operational efficiency. The building also lacked a preventative maintenance program. 

The project team was also concerned about obtaining the necessary funding—a good portion of the implementation cost was put toward upgrading aging BAS control panels. Another challenge: Updated control panels needed to be able to implement the fault detection control code and trending the team desired. Estimating ROI solely on a panel upgrade proved difficult. However, the team felt confident enough that other performance achievements would boost the project’s overall ROI. 

"This project will save money spent on utility consumption–funds we can use to fuel additional initiatives."


Once the team addressed these problems and created an alarm system to detect abnormalities in energy rates, it didn’t take long to realize savings. The project paid for itself in 10 months—with savings exceeding expectations. 

After the project was complete, the business school team developed an ongoing, pro-active Sustainable Performance Program to maintain the new higher energy-conservation levels they had now achieved. And given the proven financial paybacks already evident, the SPP received funding.

CLOSE UP: Goizueta School of Business

What did we do?
Stemmed the Goizueta School of Business building’s performance degradation.

Why we did it: 
Improve building performance and meet Emory’s broader goal of reducing campus-wide energy use by 25 percent by 2015.

Our Approach: 
Developed a method for improving the building’s efficiency and created an alarm system to detect abnormalities in energy rates.


  • The project’s net benefits can be scaled to future projects
  • Paid for itself in 10 months
  • Money saved on utility consumption can fund other initiatives