Over the course of 5 years, NREL worked with commercial building owners and their design teams in the DOE Commercial Building Partnerships (CBP) to cut energy consumption by 50% in new construction (versus code) and by 30% in existing building pilot projects (versus code or pre-retrofit operational energy use depending on the preference of the Partner) using strategies that could be replicated across their building portfolios. A number of different building types were addressed, including supermarket, retail merchandise, combination big box (general merchandise and food sales), high rise office space, and warehouse. The projects began in pre-design and included a year of measurement data to evaluate performance against design expectations. Focused attention was required throughout the entire process to achieve a design with the potential to hit the energy performance target and to operate the resulting building to reach this potential. This paper will report quantitative results and cover both the technical and the human sides of CBP, including the elements that were required to succeed and where stumbling blocks were encountered. It will also address the impact of energy performance goals and intensive energy modeling on the design process innovations and best practices.