The Advent of "Green Options" + The Green Report (Updated)

Greenoptions

I’m going to keep this short, but as an FYI, the blogosphere is officially welcoming Green Options to the scene.  In full disclosure, I am a contributor to the site, so I have a modicum of bias as far as that’s concerned.  That said, I’m not so connected to anything to put myself in a position to not be honest.  If that makes sense.  Although Green Options is being heralded as new to the green scene, many of its contributors are old pros when it comes to the blogging world.  Here are a few heavy-hitters with their own blogs in parenthesis:  Jeff McIntire-Strasburg (Treehugger + Sustainablog), Michael d’Estries (GroovyGreen + Ecorazzi), Rebecca Carter (GreenerMiami + Ecorazzi), Shea Gunther (Musings of an Eco-Entrepreneur), Philip Proefrock (EcoGeek, contributor), and Amy Stodghill (It’s the Environment, Stupid). 

I like the simplicity of the site.  It’s clean and very easy to look at.  I really dig "The Green Report," not to be confused with the popular Drudge Report.  I can’t wait for The Green Report to get some big-time visits from the public, to watch news work its way around that page.  The Green Report is going to be like Hugg is to Digg.  If you know what I mean.  Nice job Shea + Jeff. 

Update (4/2/2007): In the interests of full disclosure, I thought I would mention that I’ve decided to no longer be a member of the Green Options blog team. 

VIDEO: Greenbuild 2006 – Reflections + The Future

Greenbuild 2006 Video

[Run time = about 10 min.]  "You inevitably have to think about the consequences of what you do.  What I’m doing could effect someone I’ve never met and never will, and maybe even isn’t even alive yet.  If you look at it that way, then you really have to approach everything you do with more respect: the materials you use, the people you work with, what is the life of this thing, and where is it going…"  – Lance Hosey, William McDonough + Partners

Head on over to the video produced by The Butler Bros, for some good conversation about this green phenomenon.  The video includes talk from Deborah Snoonian (Plenty Magazine), A. David Lester (Council of Energy Resource Tribes), Bo Barber (Nood Flooring), Holley Henderson (H2 EcoDesign), James Jarret (Shaw Industries Inc.), Sven Eberlein (Smith & Fong Plyboo), and Caleb Ludwick (Tricycle, Inc.).  Via SSF

Skyscraper Sunday: LEED Candidate MintoSkyy (Toronto)

Mintoskyy_northeast Going green isn’t all that difficult when sustainability is woven into the fiber and fabric of your company’s existence.  There are a few companies in the business world that survive on a green business strategy.  Right now, it might be a niche play, but things change as everyone else comes around.  Minto is a Canadian real estate company with a history of quality, green developments.  Green is in the company’s fabric.  In 2006, Minto received the Canadian LEED Silver for MintoGardens (Toronto), a 34-story condominium complex.  Now, they’re going after another LEED certification with MintoSkyy.  Minto builds to LEED standards to "promote healthier living, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save residents money, and contribute to a healthier planet." 

MintoSkyy is all about living in a modern, sophisticated environment with expansive windows and breathtaking views.  In addition, suites will have individual meters for water and electricity (you pay for what you use); energy efficient thermal windows; an "all-off" switch at the front door that lets you leave knowing all the lights are off; and energy efficient appliances.  Minto also has a rigid common area management system that minimizes consumption of light and energy resources.  Also, the building will rely heavily on recycled materials, environmentally friendly paints, and a green roof (which reduces heating + cooling costs).  Located at Broadview + Pottery Road in Toronto, this 23-story condo tower looks pretty good to me.  :: Minto ::

Mintoskyy Sleep
View from MintoSkyy (on the right)

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.

The Plenty 20 + Fiberstars' Efficient Fiber Optics

Efo_pool_lighting

The February/ March 2007 edition of Plenty Magazine has a really good article called "The Plenty 20" by Danielle Wood.  You won’t find it online, so go pick up a copy.  Generally speaking, magazine lists have a tendency to be contrived, opinionated, and/or incomplete, but I thought The Plenty 20 was rather thorough.  The article profiled an Ohio-based company called Fiberstars (NASDAQ: FBST).  The U.S. government funded the research that became Fiberstars’ Efficient Fiber Optic Technology (EFO) with grants totaling about $13 million.  Now, its lights illuminate the Declaration of Independence and the Magna Carta. 

How efficient are EFO lights?  Their efficiency is analogous to improving gas mileage in your car from 12 MPG to 50 MPG.  That’s efficient.  So efficient, these lights were used in the green Bill Clinton Presidential Library. 

EFO lights do not emit heat or ultraviolet rays, so they are perfect for museum or archival applications.  One 70-watt metal halide lamp, which connects to a fiber optic system, can equal the output of eight 50 watt bulbs.  Specifically in terms of efficiency, the EFO saves up to 80% on energy consumption, saves on maintenance (requires less work due to longer life), and saves one watt of HVAC for every three watts of lighting because the EFOs do not emit heat.  Not bad.  Further, Fiberstars EFO may reduce mercury emissions by up to 75% and their Reuse-Recycle Program allows customers to reuse 97% of the lamp and recycle the rest.  Currently, most of Fiberstars’ customers are commercial entities such as Whole Foods, McDonalds, Trump Tower, Starbucks, Nordstrom’s, Chevron, etc.  Maybe we’re not that far from turn-key consumer applications?

Here are some of the other companies on The Plenty 20: Nanosolar, ECD Ovonics, Greenfuel Technologies, Envirofit International, GE, Organic Valley, Tesla Motors, Southwest Windpower, Domini, Toyota, Whole Foods, Green Mountain Energy, Konarka, Goldman Sachs, Ormat Technologies, Ice Energy, Green Sandwich Technologies, Green Mountain Coffee, and Naturalawn.

Nuremburg_office_efo_lights_1

Would You Pay a Premium to Lease Green Space?

Usgbc

Here’s the situation.  You have two new 15-story buildings in a good location near downtown.  Both buildings have received several inquiries from potential tenants.  Building #1 is a traditionally-built, modern facility.  Building #2 is similar, but it’s green (LEED-CS + LEED-CI).  A lease for 40,000 square feet of space at #1 is $35 and #2 is $36.50 per square feet.  Would you pay the extra $1.50 per square foot to lease space in the green building?  We’re talking about a serious premium.  I’m interested to hear what your perspective is on this. 

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, these rents are justifiable for a few reasons.  I’m going to clip out a few comments from their article, but feel free to read the entire thing

  • Organizations with business models reflecting sustainability will be more likely to pay the premium. 
  • Although green buildings are going up at an incredible rate, most of these are for use by the owners and most developers view speculative green developments as risky. 
  • There is a dearth of tenable green lease space and requests for green space are falling on deaf ears. 
  • The market is tenant driven right now and tenants have had success cooperating with owners to make green improvements or renovations. 

I think there will be a paradigm shift, but I don’t know how it will happen.  Somehow, the values of individuals and organizations need to shift towards an appreciation of sustainability, and that will create serious, mainstream adoption of green buildings.  Maybe the impetus will be regulatory?  Self-imposed?  Strategic?  I learned in Starting a Business 101, that some of the best opportunities in business become available due to a void or an absence in the market.  If it’s true that some customers and tenants are requesting green space, but the inventory isn’t available, there’s a void in the market that will be filled by the first innovators.  The rest will wake up some day and think, "I thought green buildings were for hippies?!  What’s going on?"  Which is partially an answer to my post the other day.  Via Appraisal Podcasts

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