Tag Archives: green building

environmental excellence

Valley Forward Showcases Environmental Excellence

It may not be easy being green but in today’s world, it might be the only way for companies to survive. Consumers are increasingly attracted to “greener” options, forcing organizations of all sizes and industry sectors to reevaluate how they operate.

Those that figure out how to do it right see a wide range of benefits from saving money to creating a healthier workplace. It further results in a more productive and satisfied workforce and ultimately a more sustainable future.

Valley Forward has been showcasing environmental excellence in the region for more than 30 years, recognizing contributions to quality of life and raising the bar for future development.

The organization’s Environmental Excellence Awards has become known as the “Academy Awards” of the local environmental community, setting standards for the exceptional physical, technical and social development of our metropolitan area. The awards are highly sought by companies both large and small, government agencies, cities and towns, design professionals, educators, media representatives, artists, technicians and others.

Environmental excellence takes many forms, from green buildings, magnificent desert vistas and livable communities to innovative public art, sustainable technologies and environmental education.

Sustainable development is more prevalent today than ever. The past few years has seen a record number of entries in the competition, and this program has become a powerful vehicle in advocating for the preservation of natural resources – air, water, open space and our unique desert environment.

If you have or know of green initiatives that should be recognized at the 32nd annual Environmental Excellence Awards program at the Westin Kierland on Sat., Sept. 29, get your entry in ASAP! The deadline is fast approaching.

In an effort to make the awards program as environmentally friendly as the projects submitted, Valley Forward is now requiring all entries be submitted electronically through an FTP site and will not accept any printed, hard copy materials!

Nominations will be accepted through 4 p.m., Thursday, July 19, 2012, in the following categories: Buildings and Structures; Livable Communities; Site Development and Landscape; Art in Public Places; Environmental Technologies; Environmental Education/Communication; and Environmental Stewardship (SRP Award).

Environmental Excellence Awards nomination forms are available at valleyforward.org or calling (602) 240-2408.

Air Quality

A Better Environment: Improving Air Quality And Our Health

Did you know 13 million deaths could be prevented every year by making our environment healthier? The fact is, public health is intricately connected to our environment regardless of where we live. This link between health and the environment has increasingly become a focal point for the medical community, policymakers and the general public. Some of the foremost factors are air pollution and exposure to pests and chemicals, which can have a significant impact on not only our health but also our quality of life.

The EPA considers indoor air quality one of the top five environmental risks to public health. It is a serious health issue for people who work inside, and furthermore, Americans spend 90 percent of their lives indoors.

Air quality is closely linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the leading cause of hospitalization in adults, and it can also contribute to asthma and cardiovascular diseases.

Did you know the main reason for school absenteeism is asthma? It accounts for more than 12.8 million missed school days in a single academic year, and every day, nearly 40,000 people miss school or work due to this chronic disease.

The annual cost of asthma is estimated at nearly $18 billion in direct and indirect costs, such as hospitalizations and lost earnings, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation. Household pests also contribute to health problems with German cockroaches and dust mites a key risk factor for asthma development and exacerbation of asthma symptoms.

Green building emphasizes ventilation and non-toxic, low-emitting materials that create healthier and more comfortable living and working environments. The built environment has also recently been recognized as an important potential contributor to reduced levels of physical activity. An important element of sustainable design is the preservation of natural environments that afford a variety of recreation and exercise opportunities. Green buildings also seek to facilitate alternatives to driving, such as bicycling and public transport, which eases local traffic while encouraging personal health and fitness.

An interactive panel of local healthcare experts discuss the impact of the environment on our health at Valley Forward’s Quarterly Luncheon on Tuesday, April 3 at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix.

Dawn Gouge, Ph.D., entomologist specialist at University of Arizona, will talk about how public health is affected by pests and pesticides, including the rising bed bug crisis our nation is facing. In addition, Fred Karnas, Ph.D., president and CEO of St. Luke’s Health Initiatives, will spotlight health impacts in relation to the built environment and what constitutes livable, walkable communities. The program will be moderated by Bob England, M.D., director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

Join us for this enlightening perspective on how our health is impacted by where we live, work and play — and how we can improve our environment, including improving air quality and reducing exposure to pests and chemicals. Visit valleyforward.org for more information.

BizBox

BizBox Offers Innovative, Mobile Platform To Help Expand Businesses

While businesses may be making more of an effort to increase their digital presence on mobile devices such as Smartphones, others are considering a mobile platform that physically brings their business’s products and services directly to their target audience — with BizBox. Barrett-Jackson Auction Company and Skullcandy have, and BizBox has only been in business for three months, creating quite the buzz

BizBox is a transportable, customized building that can transform into your business in a matter of minutes.

Charles Sidi, creator of the BizBox, who came from a background of sustainable design and green mobile structures, decided it was time to create an adaptable and innovative mobile platform. He says while the concept is common in Europe, BizBox is more cutting edge and different than what’s on the market in the U.S.

Not surprisingly, BizBox has green, sustainable features. It is solar powered, producing approximately 1,000 watts per day and storing up to five days worth of power use. It also switches automatically between solar power, gas power and electrical power. BizBox also disperses natural light with its two Solatubes light wells. These are tubular skylights installed in the ceiling that capture light through a dome in the roof and disperses light evenly throughout the room.

And this sustainable building can cater to both small and large businesses.

“What’s exciting about BizBox is we get to become involved in everyone’s business because it’s so versatile,” Sidi says. “What’s interesting is a lot of the large brands and large companies are very attracted to BizBox because we created something that maintains the value of their brand.”

Sidi adds that it’s the opportunity for innovation and the opportunity to generate excitement with a mobile platform that attracts businesses to BizBox.

“What we’re trying to do is expand other’s businesses,” Sidi says. “The goal is to give businesses a whole new approach and a sophisticated way to get their products and services to their consumers.”

Rick Sikorsi, CEO of BizBox, agrees that the mobility of the BizBox is a benefit to companies. Businesses can now bring their product to the customer, increasing its presence and sales, too.

For instance, three clients utilizing the BizBox service are Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction, Skullcandy and ListenUP! Canada (a hearing aid company). They have all found ways to customize their BizBoxes to cater and interact with their respective customers.

Barrett-Jackson will bring BizBox as a Social Media Hot Spot to all of its events nationwide, including the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale.

ListenUP! transformed its BizBox into a small hearing aid store with testing equipment and will bring the store straight to its target market residing in residence homes, which Sikorsi says is a game changer for ListenUp! because it was able to take its business to the customers, who are unable to make it to their brick-and-mortar location.

As for Skullcandy, it will be parking its BizBox at the base of mountains in Winter Park, Colo., on Jan. 30 and skiers and snowboarders will be able to jump over it. The interior will be comprised of 12 to 15 listening stations, while the exterior is made of up speakers and subwoofers.

“Skullcandy will be carrying inventory and selling products at the location for a week,” Sikorsi says. “This is how BizBox can add to a company’s bottom line — because they are able to get embedded in a customer base and sell to them.”

While BizBox has attracted larger companies, it’s also a way for entrepreneurs to start their own business with a lot less risk.

“I don’t believe the entrepreneurial spirit is dead; I just believe people are nervous,” Sikorsi says. “If something like BizBox can show people a way to get into business with lower up-front cost, it could be exciting.”

BizBox is not only expanding others’ small and large businesses, it’s experiencing quite the growth spurt, too, in its short period of existence.

BizBox currently has three orders completed and three underway; Sikorsi is expecting 12 to 18 orders over the next year, in addition to five already in the works. By 2013, about 50 BizBoxes are expected to be in the marketplace. It’s also experienced an increase in sales consultants, with 43 on board, adding two to four every week. It’s expected that BizBox will have more than 100 sales agents by June 30th of this year.

“Think of BizBox as a 220-foot blank slate that you can turn in to anything you want, that can morph into a beautiful retail-looking building,” Sikorsi says. “Rather than waiting for the customer to come to the brick-and-mortar location, we are taking the product to customer and selling it right there.”

For more information about BizBox, visit bizbox4u.com.

BizBox’s Showroom

15855 N. Greenway Hayden Loop, #160
Scottsdale, AZ
1-855-249-2697

Willow Bend Environmental Education Center

Willow Bend Center Provides Environmental Education to Flagstaff Residents

Willow Bend Center Provides Environmental Education to Flagstaff Residents

If you had to pedal a bicycle to produce the energy needed to run the computer you were on right now, how much energy would it need? The Willow Bend Environmental Education Center in Flagstaff can give you an idea.

The Willow Bend Center has been bringing environmental education to Arizona since 1978. Each year, the Willow Bend Center educates 14,000 students in northern Arizona through its classroom programs and field trips.

The Willow Bend Center

The center has a Green Building, Discovery Room, gardens and the Biobug. The Green building was built in 2002 with the helping hands of volunteers from the community and incorporates a host of sustainable living practices.

“The building is passive-solar straw bale with a grid-tied photovoltaic system, rainwater cisterns, backyard habitat landscaping and native crop gardens, composting and more,” says Sapna Sopori, director of the 
Willow Bend Environmental Education Center. “In addition, our Discovery Room has interactive displays that demonstrate how how easy it is being ‘green’ in our personal lives.”

In the Discovery Room, you can ride the light bike to find out how much energy it takes to light up a regular light bulb as opposed to a compact flourescent light bulb, as well as how much water a person in Flagstaff uses each day and how recycled soda bottles become a fleece jacket.

Many of the education activities, such as the Discovery Room exhibits and Quest: A Natural History Treasure Hunt, are free. To supplement the educational experience on site, Willow Bend will be getting a shade structure and new outdoor learning space for educational use through its relationship with the Coconino County Parks and Recreation.

“This structure will be made of local small-diameter Ponderosa pine and will provide an outdoor learning space for Willow Bend,” she says.

The Willow Bend Center Educational Program

“We are best known for our Pre-K through 12 public school programs and work within the school districts to make teaching [environmental education] easier on teachers,” Sopori says. “Each of our 50 unique classroom programs is state standards aligned and offered free or low cost to teachers.”

The Willow Bend Center Discovery Room

The Willow Bend Center sends qualified educators to the schools with materials for hands-on, engaging, environmental science programs that focus on the bio-region and associated with community issues. Supplementary field experiences that build on the classroom programs are also offered. Currently these field workshops are held at Willow Bend or Sawmill County Park, and can even be provided at the schools themselves, to reduce busing costs and turn schoolyards into explorable habitats.

“Over 85 percent of the teachers that use Willow Bend rated our programs as above average or excellent, and 99 percent plan to continue using us in the future,” Sopori says. “[But,] children aren’t the only ones who can benefit from our programs; we also offer amazing teacher workshops to prepare and inspire educators to incorporate [environmental education] into their curriculum, both in the classroom and in the field.”

Willow Bend offers day-long programs such as the Science of Solar to more intensive 12-day programs such as the Yellowstone workshop, to help educators feel comfortable using the environment as the context for learning. These programs can be used for continuing education credit through FUSD, so formal teachers can meet their certification requirements as well.

The Willow Bend Center Community Events

The center has a variety of educational public programs for people of all ages. Though the Willow Bend Center focuses much of its time with the school system, they recognize the benefit of extending environmental education to the community as a whole.

“For this reason, we offer Family Science Events so families can enjoy experiencing nature and learning together,” Sopori says. “For example, our Radical Reptiles class is a great way for parents and kids to learn why snakes, lizards, turtles, etc. are such amazing creatures and see beautiful live specimens up close and personal.”

The center also offers Adult Adventures, where adults can get outside, get active and learn directly from professionals in environmental science.

“Willow Bend is dedicated to connecting northern Arizona to the environment, empowering our community to live more sustainable, and always providing hope for a fruitful tomorrow,” Sopori says.

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If You Go: The Willow Bend Center

703 E. Sawmill Rd.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
(928) 779-1745
willowbendcenter.org

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Photo: Dru Bloomfield - At Home in Scottsdale, Flickr

Scottsdale’s Annual Green Building Lecture Series Scheduled for September

Green Building Lecture: Scottsdale’s Annual Green Building Lecture Series will be back in full swing come September first.

The Green Building Lecture Series is free and open to the public, and address sustainability issues such as environmentally responsible and healthy building practices and energy efficiency.

This will be the 12th lecture series event about green building hosted by Scottsdale in order to inform and educate building owners, developers and builders, and design professionals on sustainability practices.

The lectures are held on the first Thursday of every month from September 2011 to June 21012, excluding January, with the first lecture for the 2011-2012 year titled “What Happens When Green Becomes Code?”

The International Green Construction Code (IgCC) was recently adopted by the Scottsdale City Council and is the core of the city’s Commercial Green Building Program. The lecture in September will educate the public on IgCC and how it will make “going green” easier to obtain for developers of multi-family and commercial housing.

Other lectures in the series will include topics on reusing rainwater, cooling and heating options for the home, green projects around the Valley and water saving techniques.

The Green Building Lecture Series will feature practitioners and experts speaking on the green topics each month to address key issues pertaining to sustainability and going green.

The monthly events will take place at the Granite Reef Senior Center in Scottsdale, from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

[stextbox id=”grey”]If You Go:
Green Building Lecture Series
Granite Reef Senior Center
1700 N. Granite Reef Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ 85257
www.scottsdaleaz.gov[/stextbox]

Sundt Construction, Arizona

Sundt Construction Expands To New Mexico, N. Carolina And Texas

Arizona-based general contractor Sundt Construction has expanded its operations, opening three satellite offices in Albuquerque, N.M.; Cary, N.C. and El Paso, Texas. The offices will support active projects in those areas.

“During Sundt’s 122-year history, we have completed projects across the United States and around the world,” said Doug Pruitt, CEO and Chairman of Sundt Construction. “The opening of these satellite offices aligns with our plans for growth, and will help us best serve our current and future clients and partners in those markets.”

The El Paso office supports work underway at the Fort Bliss military installation, including housing projects, tactical facilities and infrastructure, training ranges, tank trails and more. It will also act as the hub for West Texas project work for public agencies and private owners alike.

The El Paso satellite location is the second Texas office to open in the last year and a half. In February 2010, Sundt established a Texas District headquarters in San Antonio in light of its active projects and long history in the Lone Star State, which includes more than 40 years and $1 billion in project work.

In addition to its work at Fort Bliss, the company is working on projects at Fort Hood in Killeen and Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio, as well as the Public Safety Answering Point / 9-1-1 Dispatch Center in San Antonio. The most recent Texas project win came last month when the Texas Department of Transportation awarded Sundt a $24.1 million civil construction contract to renovate the W. Seventh Street Bridge in Fort Worth.

In North Carolina, Sundt’s Cary office supports work underway at Camp Lejeune. The company is working for the U.S. Navy Facilities Engineering Command to construct two Marine Corps barracks facilities with a total of 370 units at Camp Lejeune. Sundt hopes to increase its presence throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions, where it has a history inclusive of federal and private sector projects.

In New Mexico, Sundt’s Albuquerque office supports work at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. Sundt presently serves as the Construction Manager at Risk for the $22 million Chamisa Village project, which includes the construction of three new three-story buildings, associated site development, utilities and self-perform concrete work. The new buildings total 127,000 square feet and will house approximately 300 students in two- and four-bedroom apartments situated around central courtyards.

Designed by Steinberg Architects, Chamisa Village will seek LEED Gold for Homes certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, which would make it the first Gold-certified multi-unit university building in New Mexico.

Brooke Bogart - Big Green Conference 2011

Speaker: Brooke Bogart ~ BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Brooke Bogart, Ecological Environments, LLC

Brooke Bogart, Ecological Environments, LLCAs an award winning architect, Brooke’s designs have been featured on the cover of EcoStructure magazine. She is the third LEED AP in the state of Arizona and has remained in the forefront of sustainable design.

She continues to stay on the cutting edge by receiving her Masters in Energy and Cliate Design at Arizona State University. After practicing sustainable architecture since 1997, she is now assisting other architects, designers, contractors and owners in the pursuit of green building design and LEED certification as Principal of Ecologicial Enviornments, LLC.

Brooke is also known for her educational seminars on various aspects of sustainability and LEED.


Topic: How manufacturers, contractors, architects and interior designers can market their company in an environmentally friendly manner.

Conference Speaker
Friday, April 15, 2011
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 a.m.
Room 158

BIG Green Conference 2011


BIG Green Expo
Friday & Saturday
April 15th & 16th 2011
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.


Sponsors:

BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Speaker: Joe Zazzera ~ BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Joe Zazzera, Plant Solutions, Inc.

Joe Zazzera, Plant Solutions, Inc. 

Joe Zazzera is president and CEO of Scottsdale-based Plant Solutions Incorporated. He is a national board member of Green Plants for Green Buildings and chair of their LEED Advocacy Committee. Joe is an investor at the Bronze level of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council an Agave Partner at USGBCAZ, ASID Industry Partner, BOMA member and local Phoenix Boy.

Joe is Secretary of the USGBCAZ Central Branch. His company, Plant Solutions, has been providing Vertical Living Greenwalls, Interior Plantscape Design, installation and maintenance services since 1981. Joe helped develop the Vertical Greenwall educational training manual for Green Roofs For Health Cities.

One of Joe’s goals is to see indoor plants adopted into the Indoor Environmental Quality, IEQ section of the LEED rating system. He is a registered AIA, ASID CEU provider and USGBC educational provider for the program “Authentically Green Interiors.” Joe is a LEED accredited professional through the U.S. Green Building Council. Joe is currently enrolled in the Biomimicry Groups inaugural specialty program and will graduate this November.

Hoping to one day bring native style green roofs tot the valley, he is an accredited Green Roof Professional, GRP, through Green Roofs for Health Cities.

Joe is also a little bit of a social networking geek and can be followed on twitter @joezazzera.


Topic: Green Walls for Green Buildings: A discussion of the different types of green vertical walls, and the difference between a “green facade” and a vertical living wall.

Conference Speaker
Friday, April 15, 2011
11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Room 156

BIG Green Conference 2011


BIG Green Expo
Friday & Saturday
April 15th & 16th
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 



Sponsors:

green building, Reduce Risk On Green Building Projects

How Subcontractors Can Reduce Risk On Green Building Projects

Green building provides a unique opportunity for the small to mid-sized subcontractor. In fact, an integrated approach to green design, building and construction will be essential to efficiently building green projects. Subcontractors and material providers can greatly benefit from the green building trend by understanding certification requirements, becoming familiar with green practices for their particular trade, and by being knowledgeable about green materials.

 

While the potential to increase business for a green subcontractor is clear, it should be noted that green building is not without risk. Owner expectations are often heightened in green building. Often the general contractor or developer has promised a certain level of “green” that may or may not be able to be achieved on a particular project. Arguably, the most likely claim to arise will be that the finished building is not as “green” as promised by the contractor. In order to protect the subcontractor from overstated promises erroneously made or implied by the general contractor or developer, there are certain contract provisions that must be in every subcontract.

As always, a clear and well-defined contract will be critical to protect the subcontractor from potential risks on such projects. It is imperative that green subcontractors include clear definitions and performance standards, clear disclosures, and exercise greater caution in bid and contract negotiation. Of particular importance will be express contract provisions to protect the subcontractor should the general contractor or developer fail to deliver as “green” a building as was initially promised. A green sub-contract should include language stating that ordinary skill and care will be used to achieve the project’s green objective; however, the subcontractor does not warrant or guarantee that those objectives will be met beyond the subcontractor’s limited scope of work.

Further, the sub-contract should also contain express disclosures to protect against unrealistic expectations of the owner or user. One such disclosure should be that a green building does not equate to a “defect-free” building. Similarly, it should be clear that no specific level of energy efficiency or performance is guaranteed. The sub-contract should also include a standard disclosure that new and innovative products and/or technologies may be used and that those products and technologies may lack a proven history. The subcontractor should not expressly guaranty any new product or technology.

As with all projects, the parties to a green contract or sub-contract must contractually account for the uncertainty that may occur during a green building project. It is important to minimize risk where possible.

Although a green building design may carry with it the potential for increased claims and liabilities, taking the precautionary measure of creating a clear contract — which defines realistic performance criteria — provides a simple way to protect both the subcontractor and the owner from disputes arising from unrealistic expectations or ill-defined terms.

Green IconThis article contains a general discussion of the law. This article does not constitute and should not be treated as legal advice as to any particular situation. You should always consult your attorney with regard to contract issues.

Remarkable Stats

  • In the United States, buildings account for 39% of total energy use, 12% of the total water consumption, 68% of electricity consumption and 38% of carbon dioxide emissions. Green construction methods are increasingly being used in building projects at all stages from design and construction, to renovation and destruction.
  • In fact, the McGraw Hill 2006 Smart Market Report predicts that green non-residential construction will comprise as much as 10% of all non-residential construction by 2010. This figure represented a sizeable growth potential in the green building market.
Green Ideas Construction, green building opportunities, LEED

Strategies For Capturing Green Building Opportunities

In the early days of green building, some contractors differentiated their companies with marketing claims that highlighted the number of LEED Accredited Professionals on staff. Although many of them had little or no actual experience with LEED-certified projects, a phrase added to a statement of qualifications document — such as, “We have 30 LEED APs on our team” — was enough to help win projects. That is no longer the case.

Many contractors now have multiple LEED APs on staff, so it is no longer a differentiator. Owners are now more sophisticated and informed about what green building really means. In the future, this fundamental strategy will become harder to keep in effect as continuing education requirements are introduced that require ongoing education in order to keep an individual’s LEED accreditation current.

In order to secure green building projects in the future, contractors will have to get creative in demonstrating their commitment to sustainability in more specific and credible terms. There are two key strategies that successful market-ready contractors should implement in order to remain competitive.

Green Building Manual
Creating a simple green building manual is an easy way for a contractor to show prospective clients that they have thought through the green building process. It can also be an effective way to demonstrate the specifics of how the contractor will go about constructing a green building if done properly. Effective green building manuals should include, at a minimum:

* Sustainable office operations document.
* An environmental impact statement and policy.
* Construction activity pollution prevention program.
* Construction waste management policy.
* Indoor air quality — during construction policy.
* Material sourcing and purchasing policy.

Environmental Management System
Over the last decade the Associated General Contractors of America has actively promoted and encouraged its members to develop a comprehensive Environmental Management System (EMS), but relatively few have actually developed an EMS or even an effective alternative way to manage their regulatory responsibilities. In its basic form, an effective EMS for a contractor or construction manager would include the following elements:

* Incorporate appropriate measurements for various site practices.
* Establish a template for EMS reporting (measurement and accounting) on all projects.
* Provide employees on all projects with access to federal, state and local standards, and regulations pertaining to each project.
* Incorporate the desired green building or LEED standard credits into each project.
* Provide the necessary tools to efficiently supply clients with a comprehensive list of project-specific environmental accomplishments and EMS performance data.
* Provide data for use in the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report.

Of course, every Environmental Management System will be different as business, marketing, financial and environmental goals vary from company to company. However, the end result of the EMS for all firms should be:

* Reduction of fines and penalties.
* Compliance with environmental regulations.
* Establishment of the contractor as a premier environmental contractor.
* Capability to populate reports with project-specific environmental documentation.
* A satisfied client that will hire your company again.

An effective EMS program should also be accompanied by a communications program, in order to demonstrate to the world the company’s commitment to the EMS program and corresponding results to the business community. Marketing a company’s core competencies is integral to securing future work, so the communications program should differentiate the firm from competitors, show example CSR Reports and communicate competence to deliver LEED projects.

Additionally, the federal government (GSA) is beginning to require contractors to have an EMS in place in order to qualify for government work, and many states are beginning to do the same.

In order to secure more green building projects in the future — whether they are LEED, Green Globes or some other certification — construction managers, general contractors and specialty contractors will need to be proactive in order to demonstrate their understanding and commitment to sustainability. A comprehensive EMS program that contains sustainable construction means and methods elements is a sure way to show prospective clients how the company can help achieve green building goals on time, within budget and in a manner that is truly sustainable.

Green Iconwww.egreenideas.com

Green Building - AZRE Magazine July/August 2010

Green Building Is A Smart Business Solution

Green building is inevitably a smart business solution.

When it comes to the bottom line, companies that want to be in the black — go green. As building owners, developers, brokers and designers, the industry is trying to re-define how they do business to stay in business, and it is vital that these efforts align with the paradigm toward green building.

Existing assets — empty buildings, existing properties with leases expiring, etc. — may be the most marketable commodity right now. Building owners should look at new ways to use this economic downturn as an opportunity, and not a road block. By incorporating four simple measures, owners and developers can reposition their real estate assets to be more marketable — a concept better known as real estate asset positioning (REAP).

GOING GREEN – GREEN BUILDING

Invest in sustainable strategies. A building that can call itself “green” is much more marketable than one that lacks environmentally conscious attributes. Leading organizations are demanding green designs, while employees increasingly view sustainability as a corporate responsibility. In fact, a Harris Poll found that 33 percent of Americans would be more inclined to work for a green company, than one that did not make a conscious effort to promote sustainable practices.

Daylighting, shading, varied glass types and occupancy sensors are just a few strategies that have demonstrated a quantifiable Return On Investment (ROI), and are proven to benefit occupant health and well-being. Furthermore, increased building value and elevated rents often have been cited as benefits of green buildings, according to Turner’s 2008 Green Building Market Barometer. Going “green” is a great way for building owners to leverage their assets for strategic market repositioning.

ENERGY REDUCTION

Incorporate measures to reduce consumption by investing in sustainable strategies that are efficient in their use of water, energy and other resources. Examples include using low-flow plumbing fixtures, high-efficiency lighting and air quality monitoring.
Out of 754 commercial real estate executives surveyed, Turner’s report found:

  • 84 percent of respondents cited lower energy costs in green buildings
  • 68 percent noted overall operating cost savings
  • 72 percent say green creates higher building values

Sundt Construction, currently in the process of realizing a lab building for an Arizona university, conducted energy consumption metrics showing the cost to provide occupancy sensors for a 294,000-square-foot building would be $15,598. The owner’s savings for the first year were estimated at $29,905 — a noticeably fast payback on an initial investment.

Building owners and some tenants also may receive tax deductions of up to $1.80 per square foot if they install energy-efficient interior lighting; upgrade the building envelope; and install heating, cooling, ventilation and/or hot water systems to reduce energy consumption by 50 percent, in comparison to meeting minimum ASHRAE 90.1 requirements.

MARKET DRIVEN

Focus on looks and extras. When it comes to attracting the best tenants in today’s real estate market, there has never been a more prudent time to assess an existing building’s worth.

Upgrading and retrofitting 40-, 20- and even 10–year-old buildings during this economic downturn can result in significant cost savings, as the current market experiences up to a 30 percent drop in construction costs.

New lobbies and entries, updated restrooms and elevators will attract potential tenants and retain existing ones, who may be considering relocation. Providing additional amenities to elevate an existing building to Class A office space provides the competitive edge necessary to exist in the new, highly competitive marketplace.

In addition, envelope and exterior skin upgrades from Low-E insulated glazing units to new, longer lasting and maintenance-free, environmentally friendly materials will enhance the building’s appearance, as well as its internal support systems.

By incorporating aesthetic upgrades and modernizations to reposition assets, a building’s life can be extended well beyond its initial years.

ADAPTIVE REUSE

Innovate. It’s easy to envision an existing historic structure retrofitted into a modern, trendy boutique hotel. However, it takes a creative mind to realize that a brand new, empty, speculative high-rise office building has that same potential.

The real estate is there — it’s a matter of incorporating flexibility into the process of assessing the market’s changing demand. Introducing a new function or use into an existing asset, based on what the market is saying, is a cost-effective way to extend the longevity of a building and exceed the ROI on existing real estate.

What better way to “go green” than to recycle and re-use an existing building?
As asset repositioning — or REAP — continues to catch on, the value of revitalizing existing buildings is becoming paramount to how the economy will affect the design and construction industry in Arizona for the next 10 to 20 years. Understanding the market demand and how it affects an existing asset is the first step. Secondly, developing an analysis of the property may be the most viable way to determine its future potential — whether it makes sense to update, retrofit or green-up, the possibilities are infinite.

This is not a new practice, just a smart one that will provide ongoing opportunity for those willing to take the plunge and invest in what already exists. Let’s REAP the benefits together!

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Martha Abbott is an architectural senior project manager for the Workplace Studio of SmithGroup’s Phoenix office, with 20 years of experience.

www.smithgroup.com

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AZRE Magazine July/August 2010