I’m a big-time reader–anything good I can get my hands on. But, I’m picky. So I take time to read BusinessWeek (BW) every week, and I can’t remember the last time they DIDN’T mention green this or sustainable that. This week, BW named green building one of The Best Ideas of 2006 (slide show). Again, this doesn’t come as a surprise because BW has been on green for a while now; back in July, for example, they had an article about the Green Wonders of the World. Here’s a snippet from this week: "The Hearst Building has lots of company in this year’s green all-star category, including Adobe’s new Silicon Valley headquarters, Google’s installation of solar panels at its Mountain View headquarters, and the new Bank of America tower in New York. BofA’s glassy wonder, now emerging over Bryant Park, is expected to become the greenest office tower in the U.S., complete with a living green roof and sensors that know when to pump fresh air into stuffy meeting rooms. Healthier workers. Fantasy digs. A smaller contribution to global warming. Green is good." Yes, indeed. For the inquisitive, I’ve posted on Hearst and Adobe before.
Buildings account for 36% of the US’s total energy consumption, including 65% of its electricity use. The debate over coal, renewable energy, wind energy, solar panels, etc., pretty much comes down to the fact that we (Americans) use a lot of electricity. Well, a well-known green real estate consultant, Charles Lockwood, sat down with Tom Friedman to discuss his thoughts on everything green (article link – pdf). Tom Friedman is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times and wrote the wildly popular book, The World Is Flat. If you want to get your hands on the book, make sure to get the updated version. Friedman has some interesting comments about green buildings and technology. He talks about something he calls "Up, Not Out," and how green cities can attract younger workers. He also wants to re-frame the debates on environmentalism. Give the article a read and watch his video with Tim Russert of MSNBC.
The Green Quotient: Q+A Thomas L. Friedman [Charles Lockwood]
"The ‘New Reality’ of Green Building from Environmental Cause to Financial Opportunity." I wanted to put up a quick post regarding BD+C’s new green building white paper–it’s big-time informative, talking about green building in the context of office, retail, hotel, restaurant, residential, education, healthcare, and government buildings. If you don’t read anything else (it’s a dense report of 64 pages, of which about 10-15 pages are for so called green sponsors), read the Executive Summary on page three to catch a drift about what’s going on in the industry. One issue that keeps popping up is the issue of whether green buildings cost more than code-built buildings. For one thing, certification will cost some money (unless it’s LEED-Platinum), but other than that, there’s a small premium that an owner will pay. But that’s when you analyze the building on a first costs basis. If you’re looking at first costs + operating costs (which the industry is still trying to work out), green buildings can be pretty attractive. With the possibility of higher occupancy rates, less tenant turnover, and less $$ on energy + water, green building is a phenomenon to be reckoned with. Plus, green buildings try to source materials locally, so to the extent that this happens, $$ spent on materials stay in the cities you’re trying to rebuild and develop. There are lots of positives…
Building Design + Construction’s Green Building White Paper 2006 [registration required]
Sustainable building for 2006 had to be a watershed year, and this conference looks to be an exciting event. Everytime you see "LEED" in my blog, I’m talking about the professional, responsible embodiment of green buildings–smart, efficient, and energy independent. Starting tomorrow, the USGBC’s annual conference begins; here’s what’s in store for the next 3 days: +700 exhibitor booths, LEED workshops, green building tours, powerful keynote speakers, Master Speakers Series, USGBC Leadership Awards, etc. The conference will be an idea-rich feast for ideas on site location + development, water use, energy efficiency, materials + selection, indoor environmental quality, biophelia, health + productivity, financing, etc. I’d love to be there, but I just can’t afford the investment at this time, but the conference will be full of architects, building owners, code officials, contractors, developers, educators, engineers, facility managers, financial service providers, governmental agencies, green power providers, home builders, interior designers, landscape architects, nonprofit organizations, product manufacturers, schools + universities, students, urban planners, utility providers, and media.
Keynote speakers include Bill McDonough, Jeffrey Sachs, and David Suzuki. I also have links to the Master Speaker Series, Educational Sessions, Special Events, Attendee Schedule, FAQs, and Exhibitors.
It’s not too late to go, from what I understand…just hop a SWA flight and bill it to the company. Seriously, if you’re somewhat curious about green building, this is the event to go to. If you’re thinking about adopting a little green to improve your products offering, go and get some ideas. If you can’t go, last year, there was an inspirational opening session with Ray Anderson, Janine Benyus, and Paul Hawken, which is now available on DVD for $10. The DVD is called "Strategies for Sustaining the Sustainable Building Movement." You can order via here. A portion of proceeds go to the Biomimicry Guild.
The Colorado Convention Center
700 14th Street, Denver, CO 80202
Getting To the Convention Center
By CSO, I mean Chief Sustainability Officer and I’m serious. I’m not one for more layers of bureaucracy and extra non-productive meetings, but this is something that businesses should consider. After reading this short post, you’ll know why I think businesses should create the position, but you decide and let me know what you think. Way back in June, NYC Mayor Bloomberg announced the creation of an "Office of Sustainability," to explore ways to reduce carbon emissions. Similarly, I read a recent article in Dallas Business Journal regarding Plano’s (Texas) decision to create a new position and hire Nancy Nevil as the City’s Director of Sustainability and Environmental Services. Why create a director-level position? So there could be a point person, an accountable person. She gets $109,288 a year, and one of her responsibilities is educating the city and its 2,200 employees about ways to reduce consumption of energy and materials. I’m sure many other cities are doing similar things–Plano decided to do this after visiting Portland and studying their green initiatives.
If your company is like most, you have the perfunctory recycle bin, but likely you still consume enormous amounts of paper, right? How does your company manage lights when no one is around? What’s the company’s recommended setting for computers when you leave work for the day or weekend? Does the company incentivize carpooling? Is there a place where bikers can store their clothing and equipment during work, or change? Generally, where could your company be environmentally conscious and see results on the bottom line (cut expenses)? Where could your company change its mix or products and services to be more sustainable and profitable? These queries probably don’t do justice to the value a company could realize by having a specific position for sustainability and environmental issues. This is innovation! Think hard about whether your company could benefit from having a CSO.
My Experience and Opinion:
I’m an MBA student and noticed that sustainability courses are catching on in some forward-thinking programs (i.e., Presidio, Green MBA, Stanford, etc.). So I wanted to find a professor and do some cutting-edge, sustainability research for MBA-level credit because we don’t have any courses on the subject. Guess what? I can’t find a soul that’s interested in the research. Maybe I haven’t found the right person, but I haven’t gotten so much as a response from the department strategy chair. Why? Sustainability isn’t on the business person’s radar. Why? I can’t figure it out. These are the surest, noblest money-making opportunities of our time.
So, I’m writing an outline for an MBA-level course called "Sustainable Strategy, Business, and Entrepreneurship," and I’m going to write the lesson plans, assignments, and exams. When I graduate, I’m going to pitch the course to MBA schools and teach adjunct-style (still want to work in business during day). This is a topic that needs to be on our radars. Image.
There’s just one thing that I can’t figure out: why aren’t more hotels going green? Recently, I blogged about Starwood Hotels creating a luxury, green hotel brand (and there’s also the LEED-certified Orchard Garden), but why aren’t all the other hotels going green? I have two thoughts: (1) post-9/11, hotels tanked and lost a lot of money, which they’ve really started to regain from 2004 until now…they’re busy making money and don’t want to shut the place down with expensive renovations; (2) the split between ownership and management leaves a decision making gap that prevents the hotel owner from undergoing large capital improvements; or (3) hotel owners are marketing their portfolios and green (the non-monetary kind) is the last thing on their minds. But if you ask me, the hotel industry is so levered to energy costs that it’s the only way to go. Looks like Gaia Napa Valley Hotel agrees with me.
Gaia is chasing LEED Gold (couldn’t find it in the USGBC certification or registration directory), which is the second highest tier in the green building rating system. Here are some of its green features: chemical-free landscaping; energy-efficient heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning system using 15% less energy; various water conservation features; solar panels; zero-chlorofluorocarbon cooling system; 100% new growth-certified wood; specialty zero energy lighting throughout the hotel and public areas; and low emission paints and adhesives.
The hotel incorporates extensive use of Solatubes. These are tubular skylights that capture sunlight from the roof and direct it into the interior space through a diffusion shaft. Imagine a periscope, except that it filters in light, not images.
Another thing I’d like to point out, is that this hotel is modern + green. Innovation has advanced to the point that green looks good. Plus, if you look at the first costs and the operating costs, in comparison to a non-green building, you’re getting a great deal, so it’s economic too. Really, there’s not other way to go, especially in the hotel industry!