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.
MGM Mirage is developing a 76 acre site between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo called CityCenter. With about 18 million square feet of new construction (residential, hotel, resort, casino, etc.), CityCenter is being dubbed a "city-within-a-city." If the project is completed according to LEED standards as planned, City Center will be the largest LEED project in the world. MGM has lined up some of the world’s best architects for the project, including Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects (61-story resort-casino), Studio Daniel Libeskind (retail + entertainment district), Kohn Pedersen Fox Architects (The Residences at Mandarin Oriental), RV Architecture LLC (Vdara Condo Hotel), Foster and Partners (The Harmon), and Helmut Jahn (The Veers). Generally speaking, some of the sustainable design benefits include eliminating 48,000 tons of GHG per year, diverting over 80% of construction waste through re-use and recycling, and having improved indoor air quality by using low-VOC and non-toxic materials.
In 2005, the Nevada Legislature created a statewide tax abatement program that allows LEED building owners to cut property taxes 35-50%. But that’s not the only reason MGM’s going green on this project. For most companies, their most expensive asset is people. Green buildings boost productivity among occupants and providing healthy, well-designed buildings is one way to create value for employees. CityCenter is slated for completion in November 2009. Via SunHerald.
::"S2" is short for "Skyscraper Sunday," a weekly article on green skyscrapers posted every Sunday::
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
[Run time: 54:30 min.] I was reading the Scobleizer and found a fairly substantial video interview with Toby Long, founder of the San Francisco-based, design-build firm CleverHomes. Cleverhomes is one of those companies swimming upstream in a construction river of anti-progress, anti-innovation, and staunch traditionalism. I love the Scoble laugh, seriously, it makes the interview pretty good. Long talks about the interface of technology + construction, or what I’m calling Construction 2.0, with an added dimension of sustainability. Going forward, the environmental consequences associated with construction need to be figured into a given project’s analysis. He also mentions structural insulated panels (SIPs), building information modeling (BIM), sustainability, and modern vernacular. Get past the beginning and give it go…
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?
- Social Pressure – depending on your business model, green buildings may be required to keep the sustainable message consistent corporate wide.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.