In March 2020, UCOP transitioned to a telecommute and limited on-site operations status due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This shift left UCOP’s offices across California and Washington, D.C., nearly empty. UCOP’s headquarters, 1111 Franklin, observed the largest impact from this transition, as more than 700 employees suspended their daily commutes to the building. 

UCOP took advantage of the empty occupancy of the Franklin building to improve building operations. Building staff first decreased fan speed to normalize building air pressure. Previous operations caused the building’s air pressure to be too high and use more energy than needed. Furthermore, with the decreased occupancy rate, staff shut off Franklin’s boilers to reduce natural gas usage and decrease emissions. Additionally, staff changed the operational window of the building to have systems run only from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the work week as opposed to the previous 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule. 

As a result of these changes in building operations, in just six months, the Franklin building realized almost $60,000 in energy savings. Furthermore, the Franklin building’s emissions dropped almost 40% from March to July 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Approximately 20% of these savings could be attributed to building operations improvements.