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The Great Energy Disconnect: Lessons Learned from the Pandemic on Commercial Office Energy Use  


When COVID-19 abruptly shut down the world, the commercial real estate market was profoundly impacted especially in New York City. Overnight, buildings emptied, as companies began mandating work from home policies. Yet, building energy consumption did not follow suit, a trend now known as the “Great Disconnect.” While occupancy levels dropped to near zero in the early months of the pandemic, whole building electricity consumption in New York City dropped in most cases by only 10%-30%.

In this four-part series funded by NYSERDA and adapted from Marc Rauch’s report “Aligning Energy Use with Occupancy in New York City Office Buildings,” we explore the explanations for misalignment between occupancy and energy use and define strategies for the new hybrid workplace to better align energy use in real time with the number of people who will be in offices. This post introduces the “Great Disconnect” and describes the importance of the phenomenon.

Commercial Office Space

1. What is the Great Energy Disconnect?

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People Working in an Office

2. Explanations for the Great Disconnect

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Open Office Plan

3. The Rise in the Hybrid Workplace

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Office with Windows

4. Strategies to Maximize Whole-Building Energy Savings

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