CBRE’s Paul Allegretti and His Knights

In the past four years, CBRE senior managing director Paul Allegretti has distinguished himself as the tristate area’s “sustainability guy,” managing a host of city buildings in eco-friendly fashion. Working in tandem with David Pogue, CBRE’s national director of sustainability, and an army of what he called green knights, each scattered across the country, Mr. Allegretti explained to The Commercial Observer how a brokerage firm can keep its clients environmentally and emotionally sound.

paul allegretti CBREs Paul Allegretti and His Knights

Paul Allegretti. Illustration by Paul Kisselev

The Commercial Observer: How does one become the sustainability guy at a firm like CBRE, and what does that role entail?

Mr. Allegretti: We have a national sustainability group that’s run by a gentleman called Dave Pogue, and Dave is educated as a sustainability expert in a number of ways. One way is he is accredited through the affiliations of the [U.S. Green Building Council]. He has been in that role for about three years now, and he spent the first year really going around the country, meeting with investors, owners, different types of solution providers, to understand every aspect of sustainability: [Environmental Protection Agency] as well as USGBC. And what he did was he basically built such an accelerated knowledge base, because of the amount of product that we oversee around the country, that he actually went back and was able to work with the USGBC to help them to write their book on how to certify buildings.

How did you get involved with Mr. Pogue?

I am the market leader for tristate, so what we do is we try to find those owners that are looking to be focused on sustainability or certification and what we do is we help guide them through the process through Dave’s group.

What responsibilities do those people have?

We have some people that are more junior people that are “green knights,” we call them. Every city should have a green knight. The green knight is kind of the go-to person for our real estate managers if they have a question. So if one of my managers says, “Hmm, I need to know what the latest intelligence is on retrofitting light with LEDs for elevators,” this particular individual is familiar with the programs that are happening and they say, “Look, we’re working out an agreement with Sylvania or we’re working out an agreement with GE and here are some of the calculations that they follow in order to understand the payback analysis and the cost of the product and the benefits.” They are able to guide them through that process, and that’s been very helpful.

That’s the really big push for most of our managers and owners—to keep looking at the energy and consumption side, both the electric and the steam—to make sure that the buildings are as efficient as they can be, given the tenant base, the operating hours, the type of equipment that they have. Once you get to that, the other portions of the certification could be recycling, they could be water management [or] having more hands-free devices within the restrooms.

What are a few of the buildings you’ve managed that have implemented greener methodologies?

We’re doing work at 787 Seventh. Morgan Stanley installed an ice melt plant for providing air conditioning for their tenants. So I think that’s a highly sustainable project because they actually manufacture the ice during the off periods when the demand is lower in the building and then they work to use the ice as a component for the air conditioning system during the day to cool the building.

Buildings like 450 Lexington Avenue have taken a great deal of time to make sure that every aspect of operation includes controls and upgrades to maximize energy savings. It’s just an investment process.

Some assets we’re going through now are doing upgrades today to upgrade their building automation systems, to add variable speed drives to optimize—it will get them closer to being eligible to be certified, and then it’s up to the owners whether they’re aspiring to do the finalizing and the completion.

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