Browse Tag: Climate change

EPA’s Fifth Annual Energy Star Battle of the Buildings: Over 5,500 buildings to compete

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Saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions aren’t just good economic sense, they’re the new norm.  Don’t believe it?  Check out the EPA’s latest program leveraging competition between buildings to cut emissions and shrink energy footprints:

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  launched the 2014 Energy Star Battle of the Buildings: Team Challenge. More than 5,500 buildings nationwide are going head-to-head to reduce their energy use. In support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for businesses to cut in half the amount of energy they waste over the next 20 years, the competition specifically targets wasted energy in commercial buildings, and will motivate businesses to improve energy efficiency, reduce harmful carbon pollution, and save money.

“The competitive spirit is alive and well among the building teams working to improve their energy efficiency in this year’s Battle of the Buildings,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “After four successful years, we’re excited to see the innovative ideas that will emerge from the competitors as they find new ways to save energy and money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the environment.”

In the only coast-to-coast competition of its kind, dozens of different types of commercial buildings are facing off in this year’s Energy Star Battle of the Buildings. This year’s theme, “Team Challenge,” features teams of five or more buildings who will work together to reduce their collective energy use as much as possible over the course of a year. For example, “Team Staples” includes 17 Staples stores, while 15 Whole Foods stores will support each other as part of “Team Whole Foods Market.” In New Castle County, Del., 13 elementary schools will compete as part of a team, and they’re going up against their county’s five middle schools and six high schools. In Hillsborough County, Fla., fire stations will team up to compete against libraries.

This year marks the fifth year that EPA has hosted the Battle of the Buildings. The competition—and positive environmental impacts—have grown exponentially since that time. Altogether, last year’s competitors saved an estimated $20 million on utility bills. Nearly 50 buildings in the competition demonstrated energy use reductions of 20 percent or greater.

Commercial buildings in the United States spend more than $100 billion in annual utility bills and are responsible for approximately 20 percent of both the nation’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. By improving the energy efficiency of the places they work, play, and learn, the competitors will save energy and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Competitors will measure and track their buildings’ monthly energy consumption using EPA’s online energy measurement and tracking tool, Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Building teams will work to optimize or upgrade equipment, retrofit lighting, and change occupants’ behaviors—all with help from Energy Star. The team that reduces its buildings’ average energy use the most, on a percentage basis over a 12-month performance period, will be declared the winner. In addition to the team competition, 700 individual buildings are also competing in a special water reduction category, and will work with EPA’s WaterSense program to apply best practices for commercial building water management.

EPA will maintain a website devoted to the competition, featuring a list of the competitors and their starting, midpoint, and final standings, a live Twitter feed where competitors will post updates on their progress and an interactive map of the competitor’s locations. Midpoint results will be posted in October, with the winner announced in April 2015.

Products, homes and buildings that earn the Energy Star label prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy efficiency requirements set by the U.S. EPA. From the first Energy Star qualified computer in 1992, the label can now be found on products in more than 70 different categories, with more than 4.8 billion sold. Over 1.5 million new homes and 23,000 buildings have earned the Energy Star label.

More information on the competition: http://www.energystar.gov/BattleOfTheBuildings

Does Your Costal Market Have A Climate Change Action Plan?

seflorida-regionalcompact-climatechangeThe business and economic risk presented to commercial properties by climate change is enormous. Is your costal region addressing these risks?  Is your local commercial property market prepared?

The spectre of climate change in areas most at risk for disaster touches property sales, brokerage, management and development. The design, construction and remediation of commercial buildings increasingly includes planning for risk mitigation, where lessons learned from disasters such as Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina are applied to commercial development.  The increased costs for such planning, sustainability experts counsel, is dwarfed by the cost of failure to plan for rising sea levels.

What can be done?

Southeast Florida Responds

October of last year saw the release of a climate change action plan for Southeast Florida.  “A Region Responds To A Changing Climate” from the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact Counties (PDF downloadable here).

A collaborative effort from the municipalities, partners and county governments of Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe Counties, the plan looks ahead five years and sets forth a set of methods for “mapping sea-level rise impacts, assessing vulnerability, and understanding the sources of regional greenhouse gas emissions” with the aim to “preserve the region’s unique quality of life and economy, guide future investments, and foster livable, sustainable and resilient communities”.

Public/Private Collaboration

The plan represents a collaborative process involving nearly 100 subject matter experts from a host of professions representing the public and private sectors, area universities, and not-for-profit organizations. “These stakeholders brought to the table the knowledge of their “craft” as well as information on successful initiatives  already underway locally or in other communities. Many of the
recommendations build upon best practices sprinkled throughout  our region, such as regional collaboration on transportation planning  and land use criteria that foster walkable and healthy communities.  Others delve into “new” frontiers in calling for the integration of  climate change into planning and decision-making processes in ways  that no local government has yet implemented.

Land Use And Development Under The Plan

Under the plan, land use requires new development and redevelopment projects to be designed to promote transit oriented development and transit use, which mixes residential, retail, office, open space and public uses in a pedestrian-friendly environment.  Rerouting of roads and directing of development to areas not vulnerable to flood or to limit potential flood damage is also included as part of the plan.  Included also is a laundry list of critical requirements such as water storage, climate change monitoring, aquifer recharge, and zoning / building code revisions that better address the risk of flood.

Plans similar to Southeast Florida’s can be expected to be produced in most coastal regions; is one underway in yours?

 

Earn NAR’s Green Designation

NAR's Green Resource Council websiteWhen the news on climate change includes longtime holdouts surrendering their positions to acknowledge that manmade heat and emissions are contributing in a real way to our climate, it’s probably time to look again at the ways we use energy in our commercial properties.  For years, NAR has been ahead of the curve in our industry’s green research and education with the Green Resource Council, a leading source for facts, tools, education and strategies for going green.

The Green Resource Council and NAR’s Green Designation were established by the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Association of REALTORS® in the spring of 2008 as a response to the increased interest by real estate buyers, sellers and practitioners to go green. With a panel of subject matter experts, the council developed a comprehensive designation program in the summer of 2008. That fall, we launched the pilot course to a live classroom of students.

Since then, NAR’s Green Designation program has taken off. Almost 1,300 students and over 100 instructors completed one of the courses in its first few months, and as of March 2010, over 4,000 individuals have been awarded NAR’s Green Designation and membership to the Green REsource Council.

Green Business Network

Appraisers to Title Companies, the Green Business Network links dozens of industry categories and puts NAR green Designees together with providers to form solutions, Learn more about the Green Business Network and search it here.