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Utah Edging Green, Energy Star Buildings, + Green Materials in Demand (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. Green is Right for Utah’s Future, Sustainable Building Proponents Say – Peter McMahon joined Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, Rep. Ralph Becker and Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon on the panel. Their topic was ‘Build Green. Can you Afford Not To?’  “Not many people in certain parts of the U.S. get it yet,” McMahon said. “I think we’re going to see a really huge shift in the next five years. It’s happening in a lot of countries.”
  2. EPA Awards Energy Star Awards to 53 Buildings in Midwest – Last year, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded Energy Star status to 53 office buildings, schools, hospitals, public buildings and college dormitories in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.  "These buildings are among the nation’s top energy savers, they use about one-third less energy than average buildings which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves money."
  3. Green Building Materials Gain Ground in a Soft Housing Market – Environmentally friendly options like upgraded insulation and more efficient air conditioners and furnaces are doing well in an otherwise soft housing market.

United Technologies Ad: First Zero Net Energy Building is Coming

Utc_ad

I just thought I would blog about this real quick because it caught my attention in the latest edition of BusinessWeek.  There was a full page ad saying, "Imagine that.  You can do well in the world without hurting it."  Pictured in the ad is a pretty neat looking building (above), which is interactive at www.utc.com/curious.  Go give it a look…United Technologies’ (NYSE: UTX) green building page has information on electrochromic glazing, 100% recycled structural steel, vertical axis wind power turbines, photovoltaic solar power arrays, zero VOC paints, green roofs with an integrated reclamation systems, conserving energy, fuel cell power plants, and combined cooling, heating and power (CCHP) systems.  Maybe someone should actually build the structure that’s in this rendering. 

Platinum USGBC, Steelcase's IAQ, Energy Star Hits NM + CoStar Group (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. USGBC’s New D.C. Headquarters Go Platinum – The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) can now hold itself out as an example of what green building is all about. The USGBC has a 22,000 square-foot office suite in the Gold Certified Service Employees International Union Building (LEED-NC). What’s incredible is that the USGBC’s office suite just obtained LEED Platinum for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI). So the building is gold on the outside and platinum on the inside.
  2. Steelcase Products Awarded Indoor Advantage Certifications for Low Emissions – Steelcase Inc. (NYSE: SCS), a global office environments manufacturer, today announced that over 20 of its product lines have received Indoor Advantage(TM) certifications from Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), an independent third-party certifier.
  3. EPA Gives Six NM Buildings Energy Star Ratings – Six buildings in New Mexico have earned an Energy Star rating from the EPA for cutting their energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions.  The buildings encompass more than 1.9 million square feet and saved an estimated $350,000 annually in lower energy bills. They also prevented more than 5 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, equal to the emissions of more than 400 vehicles.
  4. CoStar Group Promotes Energy Efficiency, Sustainable Green Buildings by Adding Energy Star Rating to Commercial Properties in its Database – CoStar Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: CSGP) announced that it will begin adding the ENERGY STAR rating–the most recognized national metric for evaluating building energy efficiency–to properties in its massive online database, which currently contains more than 2 million researched and verified commercial properties of all classes and types.

Intangible Drivers of the Green Building Movement

Green_roof_house Some cities require LEED or green buildings.  Some cities fast track the permitting process for green buildings.  Some cities provide tax incentives or some sort of creative financing for green buildings.  Nevertheless, developers say the economics of green buildings don’t work–they say the government needs to do more to support green buildings.  On the other hand, the EPA says the government provides enough support via federal tax breaks up to $1.80 per square foot and other miscellaneous energy conservation programs.  What do you say? 

The fact is, the boom in green buildings is being driven by (1) tenant demand and (2) federal, state, and local incentives.  But are there any other drivers pushing the green movement? 

  1. Social Pressure – depending on your business model, green buildings may be required to keep the sustainable message consistent corporate wide. 
  2. Lower Operating Costs – even if green buildings are more expensive to build, they are cheaper to operate, in terms of maintenance, water consumption, and energy consumption. 
  3. Marketing Advantage – this is related to #1, but a little different.  Caution on the green washing, but a green strategy can be good for (re) positioning according to the competition or targeting specific consumers. 
  4. Recruiting Magnet – instead of developing a corporate presence on Myspace or Second Life, why not do something substantial by making a difference?  Some of the best talent is going to companies that have a presence in savvy, green buildings. 
  5. Impairment – I’ve read from both Harvard Business Review and Ernst & Young that non-green buildings are going to be obsolete and could face big-time impairment charges. 

Green buildings are leasing up and other buildings tend towards higher vacancies (lower rents).  The best talent is going to the greenest companies.  Oil and coal companies are irritating customers and worrying shareholders because they won’t change their ways.  People are choosing companies with their wallets–they stop frequenting environmentally insensitive companies.  Water and energy is becoming a constrained resource and businesses that lower their costs by using less resources have a competitive advantage over competition.  These intangibles need to be considered when thinking about green buildings, because after all, it’s about value not cost. 

Climate Change Legal Practice, Green Building Lending, Texas Geothermal, + Green Sans LEED (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. The Law Firm of Holland & Hart Announces New Global Climate Change Practice – The firm is the first and only law firm based in the Rocky Mountains to organize a practice group concentrating on this rapidly emerging area of law and policy.  Holland & Hart’s Global Climate Change Practice Group consists of attorneys who counsel clients on the climate change aspects of energy and natural resources development, industrial energy use, regulatory compliance, renewable energy and energy infrastructure projects, corporate disclosure and governance, carbon markets, litigation, and government relations.
  2. New Resource Bank Aims to Make it Easier to Build Green – A new banking program here aims to encourage developers and investors to start green building projects by offering financial incentives like providing more money at a lower cost, higher loan-to value, and lower interest rates.
  3. Texas Issues First Lease for Geothermal Energy Exploration and Development along Gulf Coast – Texas has awarded the state’s first lease for geothermal energy production to Ormat Technologies, Inc., which plans to explore the renewable energy’s potential along seven Gulf Coast counties.  The company paid $55,645, or $5 an acre, for the right to explore 11,129 acres for pockets of hot water and steam under the ocean floor, the General Land Office announced Tuesday.
  4. Building Greener and Cheaper than LEED – While many argue over the costs and benefits of requiring LEED-certification, some affordable housing developers have shown that building green doesn’t require following the program’s recommendations.

Green CBS Radio, Wal-Mart's Sustainability 360, + The Green Premium (WIR)

Week in Review
  1. U.S. Homebuyers Will Pay Premium For Green Homes – More than half of homebuilders surveyed report that buyers are willing to pay a premium of between 11-25 percent for green-built homes. The same builders report that the average green homebuyer is between the ages of 35-50 with a college degree and fair understanding of green products.
  2. CBS RADIO Launches its First ‘Green’ Focused Radio Station – CBS RADIO announced the launch of 94.7 The Globe, its first "green" focused radio station. The Washington D.C. station will operate using renewable energy to power its 50,000 watt signal. This move will contribute to lowering the threat of global warming through the purchase of energy resources generated by wind. Additionally, station vehicles will be replaced with hybrid models.  See also 94.7 The Globe
  3. Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott Unveils ‘Sustainability 360′ – President and CEO Lee Scott today unveiled "Sustainability 360" — a company-wide emphasis on taking sustainability beyond reducing the company’s direct environmental footprint to engaging Wal-Mart’s associates, suppliers, communities and customers.  Scott also announced the company’s intention to introduce "Global Innovation Projects" — one of which is a challenge for Wal-Mart associates and suppliers to start thinking about how to remove non-renewable energy from the products the company sells.
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