The 2015 installment of the Daylight Hour is upon us and we have some amazing stories to tell about both the sheer scale of the campaign and the individual participants.

It is worth remembering that we launched the Daylight Hour last year with a very short runway and no budget.  We were confident it would be of interest to green building advocates in our community but were amazed by how quickly it began reaching folks far, far beyond our usual circle of connections.  For instance, a number of real estate ownership and management organizations used the Daylight Hour as a way to engage their tenants, greatly expanding our circle of influence.  Some significant real estate players are involved this year including Durst, Forest City Ratner, Jack Resnick & Sons, RFR Realty, Rudin, Tishman Speyer, and Vornado.

A testament to the simplicity of the idea and the connective power of social media, last year we had more than 150 offices participate representing more than 2 million square feet.  We were really proud of these numbers but have been absolutely blown away by the response this year.  It is excellent enough that we have more than 300 separate locations participating in 2015 but the really amazing statistic is the area these offices represent: almost 60 million square feet.  This is the equivalent of fully ¼ of all Class A midtown office towers turning all their lights off.  And it is office space spread across 18 different countries, including as far away as Singapore, India, China and the Antipodes.

The City of New York

Closer to home, we have been really encouraged by the participation of the City of New York.  City Council Speaker Mark-Viverito will be personally turning down the lights in the historic City Council chambers and with the support of NYC DCAS Commissioner Stacy Cumberbatch, many city agencies are taking part, including the Department of Sanitation and the Department of Correction. Since our office is in a NYC Landmark (the Surrogate’s Courthouse building from 1906) we can personally attest to the fact that older buildings are often designed to make maximum use of daylight.  This probably played a role in the Landmarks Preservation Commission deciding to register.  And we are very honored to have almost 20 of the Queens Library system branches participating, the backbone of many of our local communities.


There are a significant number of organizations that have endeavored to sign up their entire global portfolio.  Among the most impressive of these are Kumon, a global after-school program for kids that focuses on math and reading education.  By offering awards and other internal recognition they have encouraged almost 20 of their locations in North America to participate.  A number of progressive consulting firms have taken up the challenge as well, with AKF Group, Atelier Ten, HLW, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, Steven Winters Associates, Thornton Thomasetti, Perkins Eastman, and Willdan all signing up multiple offices.  Perhaps most impressive of all are the efforts of FirstService Residential.  The largest residential management company in North America, more than 30 of their offices are participating, from New York to Florida.  And the Natural Resources Defense Council has signed up seven offices from Washington DC to Beijing.

Public Players

NYSERDA and NYPA have both helped enormously with outreach and have signed up their respective offices. Our public universities have stepped up as well, with four CUNY campuses and 17 SUNY campuses signing up.  One of the more interesting Daylight Hour stories comes from Pittsburgh, where the Green Workplace Challenge encourages business to reduce energy and water use through a point-based system, with awards at year end for the most effective participants.  We are very excited to announce that Pittsburgh’s Green Workplace Challenge offers 2 points for participants in the Daylight Hour.

Lastly, we are deeply honored to count among our participants organizations like the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation.  This grass roots organization is working incredibly hard to support a community that has seen significant challenges over the years and their involvement reminds us that environmental issues are a powerful opportunity for engagement across traditional boundaries.

None of this growth would have been possible without the amazing support of our sponsor MechoSystems, whose gorgeous, day-lit offices we will feature in a case study to be published next week.

We’ll have a full run down of participants and awards next week.  Follow all the activity on social media.  #DaylightHour


– Yetsuh Frank

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