WINNER: Byron Cotton for
Viacom & SL Green Upgrade (NY)

Categories: It Takes A Village

Who led the charge


Byron Cotton
Senior Vice President, CORE Services
Viacom International, Inc.

Byron Cotton worked closely with his colleagues at SL Green to make sure their space reflected the values of Viacom’s employees. With over 16 years of experience at Viacom, Byron knew those values by heart.


When a new generation of workers calls for a sustainable work environment and the landlord throws in their full support behind green renovations, big things happen.

When it came time to renew the lease on their 1.3 million-sf office space at 1515 Broadway, Viacom took the opportunity to write over $130 million worth of green renovations into the process, in partnership with its landlord, SL Green. The result is a space that reflects corporate sustainability values and operates at 15% lower source EUI than it used to—an impressive feat for a building that also serves as a home to TV studios, a Broadway theatre, a concert venue, a restaurant, and flagship retail.

Work included central plant upgrades, enhanced systems controls, an interior air handling unit upgrade, an LED upgrade, stack mitigation upgrade, a cooling tower rebuild and more. Cotton and his team found that, as work went on, an educational element also took root: “employees who were previously unknowledgeable or uninterested in sustainability were inclined to understand the changes in their work environment.”

Beyond impacting operational efficiency and influencing corporate culture, Cotton says SL Green’s role took should serve as an example nationwide on how to do tenant-driven retrofits right. “This project proves that sustainability is not only a way to improve the bottom line and attract investors,” he says. “It’s grown into a tenant expectation and a social responsibility.”


  • Built $130 million of green renovations into their lease renewal at 1515 Broadway
  • Implemented energy saving technology, including a system to ensure computers and other equipment aren’t draining energy overnight
  • Added a terrace garden to reduce ambient heat and provide herbs and vegetables to the office cafeteria (unused produce is composted onsite)
  • Encouraged tenants to participate in sustainability initiatives, including a free e-waste disposal program