- Massachusetts Power Plants to Pay Emissions Penalties: State Rejoins a Northeast Greenhouse Gas Initiative – Massachusetts power plant owners will have to pay a penalty for every pound of emissions that contribute to global warming under an agreement signed by Governor Deval Patrick yesterday that is expected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for an ambitious energy conservation and renewable energy program.
- Green Schools the Hottest Market for Green Building According to McGraw-Hill Construction’s Latest Report – MHC found that the education sector is the fastest-growing market for green building, good news for the industry, given that education construction (at the K-12 and university levels) is the largest construction sector, by value, at $53 billion for 2007.
- Wind Farm Building Boom to Continue in 2007: Wind Power Capacity in the U.S. Grew 27% Last Year – The U.S. now has enough installed wind power capacity (11,603 megawatts) to power between 3 million and 3.5 million homes, which reduces annual greenhouse gas emissions by 23 million tons of carbon dioxide. The number of homes relying on electricity produced by wind energy will rise to nearly 4.5 million by year’s end if the AWEA’s forecast is accurate.
- The U.S. Climate Action Partnership: Big Businesses and Eco-Advantage – The companies in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership are Alcoa, BP America, DuPont, Caterpillar, General Electric, Duke Energy, Lehman Brothers, PG&E, PNM Resources and FPL. These big businesses have a goal help the U.S. create public policy that would act aggressively and sustainably to slow, stop, and reverse the growth of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. See also NRDC.
Recently, I attended a guest lecture by a seasoned real estate developer, and he was talking about the profitability of his projects. This speaker has major experience will all types of investments including retail, single family, industrial, condo, etc. I put him on the spot and asked him about the numbers he’s seen on sustainable developments. His answer: "They’re expensive, a break-even proposition at best. Development is going that direction, but not now. They’re not cheap, at all. We’re talking 20, 30, 40% more expensive. I won’t do them." I was blown away.
In stark contrast, on Monday, January 22, Rick Fedrizzi, CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, said to the Miami Herald, "We are now at the point where you can build to LEED standards and it is not one penny more than conventional buildings. We are more experienced now. We have a proliferation of green building products and services." From this perspective, it’s profitable and financially responsible to be environmental and build green.
Someone’s wrong, who is it?
When I hear Fedrizzi’s statement, I’m led to believe that he’s accounting for construction on a first costs basis (not including the operational savings). And I think he is. He’s saying it costs the same to build green as non-green, on a first costs basis. I mentioned the obstacles to building green recently, so is this a case where the developer was unaware? What’s the deal? I’m interested in hearing some real world discussion here.
I hope so. When I wrote about Green Sandwich Technologies, true south orientation, and Greenbridge Developments, I was talking about Bill McDonough. I’ve also mentioned his Cradle to Cradle notion, which is about much more than sustainability, it’s about "waste = food" and what happens to stuff when no one wants to use it anymore (C2C Book). His ideas are transforming the way companies do business and make money. And that’s why he’s a big deal. He’s the "Eco-tect," or the Ecological Architect, but he’s also more than that: he’s innovating architecture, design, and business all at the same time. This is the story that Steven Spielberg wants to make a movie about, and I think it will be extremely compelling.
Right now, McDonough’s company is working with Google on its campus. He’s also helping to design six cities and one village in China with stringent standards of sustainability. If you’ve ever been to China, you know how big these cities can get, so we’re talking about sustainability and innovation on a gigantic scale. The American public could benefit from McDonough’s reservoir of knowledge and experience, so I’m hoping that Spielberg continues with his first impulse and follows through with the film. Via Business 2.0.
- Bold U.S. Energy Goal Put Forward on Capitol Hill: 25% of Energy from Renewable Sources by 2025 – A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives have re-introduced the 25x’25 House and Senate Concurrent Resolutions calling for a new national renewable energy goal: 25% of the nation’s energy supply from renewable sources by 2025 (see also www.25×25.org).
- Wal-Mart to Open First High-Efficiency Store; Supercenter Expected to Use 20% Less Energy – Wal-Mart Stores,Inc. (NYSE: WMT) announced it will open tomorrow in Kansas City, Mo., the first in a series of high-efficiency stores that will use 20% less energy than a typical Supercenter. The new high-efficiency stores will integrate industry-leading heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems to conserve energy.
- Poll Says 77% of American Say U.S. Must Do More to Spur Green Technologies – The Zogby/TechNet nationwide poll of 1,043 Americans found that 77% of U.S. voters believe that our nation must do more to promote green technologies. 75% of the voting population said that their purchasing decisions in the past year have been influenced by a desire to save energy and improve the environment.
- Unleash Your Inner Al Gore with These 12 Eco-Tips – Being green isn’t just for tree-huggers anymore. In fact, 2007 may be a banner year for going green. Read on.
On the first day of the new year, I blogged about my personal goal to flaunt the business case for green real estate. I really do believe there are big opportunities in sustainability, and this week, BusinessWeek is doing the job for me. Sort of. The cover story is "Beyond the Green Corporation: Imagine a world in which eco-friendly and socially responsible practices actually help a company’s bottom line. It’s closer than you think." The article doesn’t have a real estate focus, but real estate is business.
I liked one point the article made: "Companies that talk the most about sustainability aren’t always the best at executing." Take Ford, for example. Ford spent a reported $2 billion renovating their River Rouge facility into a green building, but do we consider sustainability one of Ford’s core competencies? I don’t. Sustainability is ancillary to what it really does, which is to make big trucks. Big F150s. Does it have sustainable practices? Maybe, but sustainability isn’t Ford’s core competency. And Ford’s not alone. Everyone is trying to grapple with the complicated balancing act between quarterly numbers and long-term sustainable practices.
Companies that make sustainability a core competency will be very profitable in the future. But, that’s easier said than done because sustainability will require entirely new ways of doing things. It will take time. It takes my weekend research. You won’t find sustainability taught in most MBA schools yet, either. But this is what competitive advantage is all about, isn’t it?
It looks like LivingHomes is lighting up the blogosphere again with more news. I’ve talked about Living Homes here + here, and I really like the company, big-time. So there are a few tidbits of news that you may find interesting: (1) LivingHomes has committed to make all its homes LEED Silver, at a minimum, and will work with owners to pay for certification costs, and (2) LivingHomes has entered into a partnership with Enterprise Community Partners (ECP) to take some proceeds from LivingHomes sales and put them into a fund for affordable green home communities. So we see LivingHomes expanding its target consumer base to allow for broader adoption due to possibly lower prefab costs–that said, these are green, architect-designed homes that command a price premium.
Interestingly, you’ll also find Ray Kappe’s second design (RK2) on the newly redesigned LivingHomes webpage. Pictured above, RK2 will be LEED Silver (Total Points = 50.5) and will have the following green benefits: yearly energy savings enough to power the home for 2 months; yearly water savings enough to fill 2 swimming pools; 80% of construction waste diverted from landfills; and 67% construction from recyclable materials. It will be about 2,215 square feet, with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. RK2 looks to be the perfect fit for large lots with expansive views. It will include an interior garden as well.