Articles With "Green Business" Tag

Lifetime Cost Case Analysis: Energy-Efficient, LED-based Commercial Signage

Lightmark_led_1 If you haven’t noticed, commercial enterprises use lots of neon in their signage.  I drove around the neighborhood and found a few gas stations and a Sonic Drive-in with neons wrapped around the structure.  You can tell because the neon lighting breaks at the nodes.  Well, LEDs, while still a nascent lighting technology, have the potential to become the future signage lighting behemoth, if building owners can catch on to their benefits.  To get to that point, however, the stars will need to align so that the key decision maker does a costing analysis incorporating the operational benefits, in addition to the sticker price (initial costs). 

LED Technology Benefits:
LEDs have energy savings of up to 80% over neon lighting.  In addition to the energy savings, LEDs differ in size and electronic control.  Point blank, with LEDs, there’s reduced maintenance, reduced energy consumption, better light quality output, safer + lower voltage requirements, and low temperature performance.  They last longer, too.  There’s no gap in the illumination like there is with the neon.  And with a technology like LightMark, the units are variable so you use just the right amount for the project. 

Lightmark_mcdonalds Lightscript_tsutayabig Arco_lightmark

Costing + Payback:
LEDs pay for themselves in about 2-3 years.  When a decision maker is comparing neons (or some other light source) and LEDs, it’s important to make sure that the comparison is apples-to-apples.  Use a "lifetime cost of ownership" analysis:  (1) initial purchase price + (2) initial installation costs + (3) lifetime energy usage + (4) lifetime maintenance charges.  I’d suggest two more external considerations, which aren’t factored into the lifetime cost of ownership.  First, consider the extent of liability (i.e., if neons tend to flame up at gas stations more than LEDs, there’s a tangible savings benefit [note - this may or may not be true]).  Second, consider the tax implications (i.e., state, local, or federal government offers tax credits/deductions for LED use, etc.). 

A few companies that have been incorporating this new technology include Arco, A&W, BP, McDonald’s, KalTire (Canada), Tsutaya (Japan), and Petro-Canada.  What it takes, however, is a paradigm shift from initial cost, or sticker price, to lifetime cost, and if owners aren’t making the change, the contractor should speak up and create value for the customer. 

Extra Links:
BP Case Study [TIR Systems]
LightMark + LightScript 
Energy-Efficient, LED-Based Signage [Grant Harlow - Buildings.com]

Starwood Capital Group Announces New Green Hotel: 1 Hotel + Residences

Starwood_capital_group Early last spring, I was looking into the faces of 45 bored students, giving my 4 minute business plan pitch for a trendy, green hotel concept geared specifically for young professionals ages 20-40.  I had it all laid out:  kiosk integration for mundane tasks, high customer service, green shuttle service, LEED certified hotel construction interior and exterior, teamwork style cleaning, paperless everything, free internet, slightly smaller rooms with mega-style, modern art + photographs, etc.  People were like, "I don’t know if that will work."  "What’s wrong with the Hilton or La Quinta."  Well, it looks like my instincts were right:  Starwood Capital Group announced plans to launch a new brand, "1" Hotel and Residences, as a luxury, eco-friendly global hotel brand.  The first hotels will be in Seattle (late 2008), Mammoth Lakes, Scottsdale, and Fort Lauderdale (in order of opening).   

Let’s face it, the entire industry will head this direction because hotels are levered to the cost of energy in two ways:  (1)  people travel less as transportation energy costs rise and (2) hotel’s profit margin is squeezed by the energy costs of running a building.  Up until now, most hotels haven’t really attacked this problem by looking at the entirety of the situation:  by building green hotel buildings!  So trend-setting hoteliers like Starwood are going to make money because they are operationally smart.  I’m excited about this green development.  After the initial locations, "1" will expand to New York, Los Angeles, + Washington D.C., soon thereafter.

Sustainability:
The hotels will be LEED certified in and out.  Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) will act as environmental advisor for the brand.  Each "1" location will donate 1% of its revenues to local environmental organizations.  The first four hotels, and most of the hotels, will be new construction, but Paris will be a renovation.  "1" emphasizes air and light, offering a fresh, invigorating, and alternative way to travel.  Inundated with the "richness, beauty and variety of colors, textures and materials," guests and residents (sounds like a multi-use platform) may not realize the myriad of ways that their building is stepping lightly on the earth.

Good Links:
++Starwood Plans Green Hotels [South Florida Business Journal]
++Starwood + Sternlicht Unveil Groundbreaking ’1′ Hotel Concept [Press Release]
++Starwood Capital Group [Official Website]

Hines CalPERS Green Development Fund (HCG) Created with +$120 M Equity Investment

Calpine_center_city_foreground_lres_web In case you haven’t noticed, Hines is one of those smart real estate companies that is leading the way in sustainable real estate.  They’re committed to sustainable building and I recently blogged a quote from Hines Chairman + Founder Mr. Gerald D. Hines where he said "sustainability has become a key component of development."  Well, it looks like they’re throwing more money at that philosophy, and I think this press release should be a wake up call to all those developers out there that are just throwing up non-green buildings, willy nilly. 

Hines announced the closing of a Hines CalPERS Green Development Fund (HCG), which is capitalized with +$120 Million.  This equity investment will allow the development of more than $500 M in high performance, sustainable office buildings throughout the United States, certified through the LEED-CS (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Core and Shell Program).  What’s even more significant than the amount of money that will be invested in green building development, is the fact that CalPERS is the nation’s largest pension fund.  This is really going to accelerate the tipping point in green development because CalPERS is such a huge player.

Hines Senior VP and fund manager said, "We have long tried to persuade tenants that there are significant bottom-line benefits to sustainable development and build out. Fortunately, the green movement is gaining steam as the public become more conscious of its benefits.  The real estate industry is finally ready for green."  I couldn’t agree more.  If you can’t tell, this is a big damn deal. 

Extra Links:
Hines Press Release [September 27, 2006]
Hines Official Website
CalPERS Official Website

Design: e2 "Grey to Green" — Rethinking American Construction Waste

Introducing "Grey to Green."  It’s a snippet from the Design: e2 series narrated by Brad Pitt.  We need a paradigm shift in the methods we employ to construct US buildings!  Watch this video on construction waste and think about the status quo.  Did you know that American buildings account for 10% of the world’s energy use?  They do.

Design_e2_logo_1 Part of the draw to modern prefab, for me, is that it presents the opportunity to efficiently, and relatively wastelessly, produce attractive, sustainable living spaces.  That’s very important.  Technology and process innovation can help us quit wasting energy, supplies, and materials, etc.  Construction waste is not only damaging the earth, but by continuing on the current path, we’re just throwing money away (both at purchase and trash points).  We need to understand the issues and find creative, innovative, positive, and attractive solutions. 

This video is extremely informative, and you can order the PBS series DVD from their website for $29.95.  The DVD includes all six episodes (The Green Apple, Green for All, The Green Machine, Gray to Green, China: From Red to Green, + Deeper Shades of Green).  I can’t catch it on TV, so I’m going to go ahead and purchase it.  Really, watch the video and you’ll realize why it looks to be a good series.

Extra Links:
Design: e2 Website
ABC News Article about Brad Pitt’s Narration
Wikipedia Entry for Design: e2

Fireman's Fund Insurance Company Makes Green Building Insurance Products Available

Real_estate_bld_145x135 Seriously, yet another reason to build green buildings.  The list gets longer and longer.  Lower operating costs, higher resale (appraisal) value, healthier work environment, and better workforce productivity, etc.  Wells Fargo wants to finance green buildings and Hines wants to develop them.  And now, California-based Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company wants to insure them.  This is a smart business strategy.  If you’re going to insure something, why not insure the top quality stuff?  As insurer, you’re dealing with the elite, upper echelon of building developers, operators, and owners.  It’s really a no-brainer…

The company will provide green coverage for commercial buildings certified as environmentally friendly in all 50 states starting in late October 2006.  It’s the first insurance company to do so and will offer three different forms:

Read more »

Northern New Jersey Attached Residence + Spa + Tennis Court Gets Sustainable

Night_court_exteriorTranslucent, shimmery, membraneous, sustainable. When I saw the look of this tennis court in Architectural Digest, I was blown away…and I don’t even play tennis.  (By the way, October 2006 AD is chock full of modern + sustainable architecture!)  At Jetson Green, I talk a ton about residential green spaces or commercial skyscrapers, etc., but I haven’t spent that much time on sustainable structures crafted specifically for sport, hobby, or play.  Architect Robert Rhodes put together a striking, modern tennis court/spa/attached residence for a client that I need to share.

Just a short skip down a slate trail from the main residence is this tennis court embedded in a New York investment banker’s 8 acre, well-wooded property.  The goal for the architect was to conform to the local zoning requirements, apply sustainable building principles, and keep consistent with the surrounding flora.  I think they did a phenomenal job. 

Green Features:
The client + architect wanted the court to "look like trees."  Here’s what they did to keep it green + sustainable.  First, they built the tennis court into the ground so that the structure wouldn’t stick out.  The same principle applied when they decided to use tennis-green, transparent polycarbonate-panels; the panels allow enough light inside for day use and keep out the harsh sunlight for cooling purposes.  Second, the court’s energy is supplied by two geothermal wells.  And third, they used an ipe deck (economic + ecologic) between the attached residence and court.  Also note, there is a subterranean spa below the deck that connects the guesthouse and court.   Investment banker Cribs anyone?

Court_image_1 Spa_court_image Attached_residence

The laminated-wood beams stretch vertically, almost as if they are the actual trees that surround the court.  Aesthetically, the panel and beam design finishes out the structure so that it blends and matches the surrounding environment.  And while I think this investment banker won’t be able to practice his lob, he surely will be able to relax, spa, and play tennis in a court fit for English royalty!

Extra Links:
Robert Rhodes Architecture [picture source]
Architectural Digest Website [article not online]
 

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