March 29, 2018

IMT is laser-focused on unleashing the potential of energy-efficient buildings to improve bottom lines and property value, drive economic growth, and reduce harmful pollution to create healthier, resilient cities. Collaborating with building owners, tenants, governments, and other city and corporate stakeholders, as well as NGOs and strategic partners, IMT’s expert staff and leadership team strive to catalyze collective, permanent market change. So, who is IMT? Get to know our subject matter experts in this blog series.

New IMT Board Member Sandra Henry believes successful market transformation requires ongoing energy-efficient practices in every building, everywhere. Below, the former program director at Seventhwave (and now Chief Sustainability Officer for Chicago) shares what it takes to maintain high-performance building stock and how she’s working with markets nationwide to move them forward.

What do you most value about building efficiency?

My overall mission is to save the planet and its people. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been passionate about the environment and taking care of it, so I value actions that stand to make a significant, long-lasting impact on reducing our carbon footprint. Efficient design and operation of buildings fall squarely in this category. Working in this area is particularly exciting because while we’ve made great strides in installing energy-efficient measures in buildings, there is still so much more we can do.

The key to high-performing space is to have the energy data to back it up and the feedback loop to take it further: Staff must be tuned in to performance and empowered to make decisions to maintain building performance. It’s an all-hands-on-deck job with a huge potential for impact.

For me, working on building energy efficiency is critical because of the enormous potential to save a significant amount of carbon. I go home from work every day and know that I’m making an impact.

Given your background and day-to-day work, what perspective do you bring to IMT?

At its highest level, my job is to excite utilities about energy efficiency. As a program director at Seventhwave, I lead the Accelerate Performance project that works with utilities to change the way building owners procure their buildings. Typically, they look at where the building is located, how many people it can hold, and how much it costs. Unfortunately, there isn’t much thought, if any, about the cost of energy use in the building. Our team is working to equip building owners with the tools to be thoughtful about their potential energy use upfront, set high-performance energy targets for potential investments, and hire design teams based on their ability to meet those goals.

Once a building is purchased, there are also so many ways that it can fall out of peak performance without the right resources and technology in place—these are on-the-ground challenges that I’m working through with our utility and corporate partners, and I’m excited to bring this pragmatic insight to IMT.

One area in particular that I’m hoping to explore with IMT’s experts is proving the savings potential for utility energy efficiency programs, as well as the overall value of investing in high-performing space. I believe IMT is primed to equip utilities and businesses with the data they need to invest further and really move the market forward.

I’m also looking forward to sharing Greenbuild 2018 with IMT staff and directors later this year. As co-chair of the host committee bringing the fantastic conference to my hometown of Chicago, I’m really excited about the showcase tours we are organizing to highlight my area’s leadership on sustainability and energy efficiency in particular. I’m also leading the Legacy Project committee this year and am looking forward to developing a meaningful project that will address equity and recognize the often-overlooked, on-the-ground leaders in our industry.

What does market transformation mean to you?

I like to frame my answer to this as another question: How will we know when we’ve successfully transformed the market in terms of energy efficiency? I think we will know we’ve made it when all of our homeowners, tenants, building owners and operators, equipment specifiers, installers, architects, planners, designers, etc., select, purchase, install, and operate equipment that is always energy efficient. Emphasis on “always,” with absolutely no exceptions.


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