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  • agowen
    Investors Bringing "Green" To The Game - How Will...
    Topic last edited May 29, 2013 by agowenMember, tagged Commercial Real Estate, Energy Efficiency, Green Building, Sustainability 
    Title:
    Investors Bringing "Green" To The Game - How Will You Play?
    Content:

    "Green" holds a dual meaning here. The first is money... Investor drivers in the energy market are bringing money to the table, with more and more investors showing interest in green buildings than ever before. The second is sustainability... More investors have started to consider sustainability in their decision making, particularly as sustainable buildings hold many advantages including higher occupancy rates, better price appreciation and lower operating costs, to name a few.

    Though going green isn't necessarily easy, more states, cities and commercial property owners/managers across the country are developing and embracing strategies for making buildings more energy efficient, primarily by adopting benchmarking programs. These programs require building owners/managers to report their energy usage data to a computer program that can use the information to determine a building’s "green rating" by comparing its stats to similar buildings. 

    Behind this trend are a mix of regulatory & economic forces that focus on sustainability and energy use, which create opportunities for environmental due diligence professionals in the area of energy audits, with some national EP firms already establishing divisions, within their organizations, dedicated to performing energy audits and recommending building improvements.

    So, what does this trend mean for EPs? How do you snag a piece of the action?

    While energy audits may not be poised to integrate into Phase I ESAs just yet, they "are sometimes stand-alone studies" and "increasingly are being procured as part of a long range capital planning exercise". Where there are regulations, there is a need for energy-related services. So, opportunities are greatest in metro that already have disclosure and benchmarking requirements. Attention to building energy performance looks like it will only increase, especially as more European investors look to place their capital in commercial real estate in the U.S.

    Learn more about energy audit drivers, sustainability investments and why the U.S. lags behind Europe on the sustainability front, green law drivers, what you need to know regarding the BEPA Standard and catch of glimpse of the total number of buildings benchmarked by state.

  • ocean13
    NREP: Certified Sustainable Initiatives Workshop
    Topic posted August 14, 2012 by ocean13Member 
    Title:
    NREP: Certified Sustainable Initiatives Workshop
    Content:

    Has anyone taken this workshop offered by NREP?  I belive it was initially offered during the Spring 2012.  They have recently advertised additional offerings.

    I am not terrribly concerned with the designation provided by completing the course, but am more interested in the content of the course.  The description of course topics appears on target and relevant.  Any insight would be much appreciated. THX!!  

  • FRENVIRO
    SBA 504 Energy Studies1
    Topic last edited January 19, 2012 by FRENVIROMember 
    Title:
    SBA 504 Energy Studies
    Content:

    Is anyone still seeing these?

  • Tom Speight
    A review of Ann Bernstein's "The Case for Business...1
    Topic last edited January 19, 2012 by Tom SpeightElite Contributor 
    Title:
    A review of Ann Bernstein's "The Case for Business in Developing Economies"
    Content:

    I was reading Bob Woods' blog back in October, and he referenced a review by The Economist of a book titled, The Case for Business in Developing Economies, by Ann Bernstein.

     The Economist's summary email apparently read:

    "Companies shouldn't worry about their "triple bottom line”—profits, people and the planet—since, ultimately, it's simply by pursuing profits that companies help their community, argues Ann Bernstein. Nebulous goals such as helping humanity and the environment sound worthy but don't add up to much, Bernstein says, so companies should stick to what they do best: making money and spreading prosperity through society as a whole."

    With that as a teaser, how could I pass it up?  I pulled some strings and got what was then an advance copy of the book.  It has some good points, and it has some very bad points.

    If there's one thing I learned to do as a history major in undergrad, it was to dissect a book's argument, since historians tend to wield book reviews like stilettos... so here's my own stab at a review.

    Over the last ten to fifteen years, globalization has made the world a smaller place.  Industry and manufacturing have increasingly relocated developing economies such as China, causing great social, economic, and environmental changes.  Globalization is therefore nothing if not controversial.  Naomi Klein’s No Logo, a popular 2000 book criticizing globalization in the aftermath of the 1999 World Trade Organization popularly known as the “Battle in Seattle.”  This book has, over the last ten years, become an international best-seller and one of the seminal texts of the anti-globalization movement, particularly in encouraging the public to seek out the sources of what they consume and the circumstances under which it was produced. 

    Bernstein presents her book as a response to No Logo, one offered (in her own words) “in praise of enterprise and corporations.”  Her complaint is that businesses, particularly industrial corporations, are unfairly limited by expectations of “corporate social responsibility,” which impose on businesses responsibility for social and environmental stewardship.  This book is essentially a polemic in favor of business regulated only by itself, as Bernstein argues that business should be given a free hand to do what it exists to do—make money—so that what benefits business can (notionally) ultimately benefit all.

    The author begins with the rhetorical question, “If capitalism won, why is business so defensive?”  In this, Bernstein appears to be taking a page out of the neoconservative Francis Fukayama’s flawed teleological argument in The End of History and the Last Man, which posited that the great historical process of social and economic development had ended with the collapse of liberal capitalism’s last rival, communism.  Bernstein’s codicil to this argument amounts to a paraphrase of William L. Marcy’s “to the victor belong the spoils”—in other words, capitalism triumphed, and the capitalist lords of creation, as the last men standing, should be able to do what they wish. 

    What business is defending itself against – badly—in Bernstein’s view, is the combined onslaught of things not governed by the market.  These particularly include non-governmental organizations and their populist agendas, the United Nations’ admittedly impractical Millennium Development Goals.  She is ambivalent on matters of formal environmental law—while arguing that standards of behavior for firms operating within a country should be anchored on the laws of the country, she notes that some countries or elements within countries will likely be willing to sacrifice their environment in favor of social and economic progress.

    It is in her characterization of the tension between business and its opponents that Bernstein abandons any pretense of being evenhanded—though as this book is self-evidently a polemic, the reader should not expect such.  Throughout her text, Bernstein displays a caustic disdain for the opposing view, lumping environmentalists in with terrorists and blackmailers (31).  At the same time, in a surprising nuance, in her Chapter Four she criticizes those who depend too heavily on Milton Friedman’s “the business of business is business” adage, which she argues is too simplistic to apply to the complex social, economic, and political context of the developing world.  She subsequently garnishes this opinion with so many nuances as to come close to contradicting herself in her Chapters 6, 7, and 8.

    She also leans heavily on straw men and caveats when discussing both business and the supporters of corporate social responsibility.  For example, she cites the collapse of the failed energy giant Enron, which resulted in criminal charges for many important figures, as being an aberration, and blames the  global economic collapse of 2008 on a failure of ‘financial subsector’ rather than the economy as a whole.  She is semantically correct, but she egregiously neglects to discuss whether or not behavior patterns such as those exhibited by Enron or the investment banks in 2008-2009 reflect modern corporate culture in general.

    The author cites and quotes extensively (but rather erratically) in favor of her arguments, presenting a list of rosy-hued scenarios in which western investment (or in one instance, South Korean investment) brought prosperity and happiness to Malaysia, Botswana, Bangladesh, and so on.  She conspicuously does not discuss, however, whether any of these happy scenarios involved any form of corporate social responsibility goals, and quite blithely dismisses the domestic costs to the United States or Europe inflicted by the outsourcing of jobs to the developing world.  

    On the other hand, many of her discussions of NGOs and other entities in favor of corporate social responsibility are constructed around vague generalities, and short on hard facts and specifics.  Even when discussing the Brent Spar furor in the mid-1990s, when public opinion stirred up by Greenpeace forced Royal Dutch Shell to abandon plans to sink an obsolete oil platform in the North Sea, she does not seriously evaluate Greenpeace’s membership or agenda, but dismisses them as uninformed troublemakers.  As a rather significant black mark in a professional text, the author cites Wikipedia as a principal source for information on NGOs (91). 

    One of the most important complaints that Bernstein levels against the NGOs, the World Bank, the United Nations, and other champions of corporate social responsibility, development goals, and the like, is that they are mostly based in Europe and the United States and dominated by people who are not the third-world peasants on whose behalf they purport to speak.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but Bernstein describes the pro-responsibility advocates as out-of-touch liberal elites, university socialists, and people who have no idea how business works.  At the same time, she essentially brands as traitors to the cause those CEOs or other businessmen who have embraced corporate social responsibility. (121)

    While it is true that Greenpeace’s board of directors are not composed of Nigerian or Bangladeshi villagers, Bernstein misses the point –possibly deliberately so—that one of the major purposes of NGOs such as Greenpeace is to educate developing nations and help them avoid the painful social, economic, and environmental calamities that have beset the developed world over the last two centuries.  The author also omits from discussion any of the numerous instances in which international NGOs have genuinely helped matters, for example the denizens of the Niger River delta in Nigeria in their struggle against Royal Dutch Shell and the murderous Abacha dictatorship.

    The second half of Bernstein’s text is generally a disappointment, as Chapters 6, 7 and 8 degenerate into a succession of bullet-pointed lists of what businesses or governments should or should not do, that sound tediously like regurgitations of business conference talking-points. 

    The author experiences repeated problems with tensions between one part of her argument and another.  In a rather troublesome inconsistency, on page 139 she asserts in support of outsourcing manufacturing to the developing world that “Manufacturing in industrialized countries is not losing its competitive edge.  It is shifting to higher-value products such as airplanes, fibre-optic equipment, or luxury goods.”  On page 181, in support of the valuable contributions of corporate investment in the developing world, she cites the contrary example of Texas Instruments, who has outsourced most of its infrastructure to Malaysia, quoting an executive as saying “As far as assemblage and testing are concerned, we have more expertise here than we have in the United States – we sometimes have to send Malaysian engineers to the States to solve their problems.”

    A glance at the bibliography reveals that not only does she rely very heavily on a small number of sources very heavily—several pages of text cited as a series of ibids-- but that a number of them are press releases, interviews, or other documents from corporations such as Texas Instruments, Coca-Cola, and Wal-Mart.  Certain of her other sources are themselves controversial opinion pieces, particularly Paul Dreissen’s Eco-Imperialism – Green Power Black Death, a racially-tinged 2003 argument against emphasizing sustainable energy in developing African nations.  As a technical note, Bernstein’s citation format does not include the titles of the works she is citing, and she generally does not refer to her sources’ authors or titles in her text.  Readers interested in evaluating her argument in light of her sources may wish for a different format.

    She alludes to the environmental expectations of the developed world and its chattering classes (as well as some differing opinions) in the first several chapters of the text, but doesn’t really come to grips with the issue until Chapter 7.  In her case studies of corporate success stories in the developing world, she wholly omits discussing their effects on natural resources, e.g. air and water pollution from foreign-owned plants, and singularly avoids discussing more destructive industries such as oil and gas production, mining, and the like.

    More than any other part of her argument, Bernstein’s discussion of environmental laws –particularly those she considers to be ‘overambitious’ (page 233) and destructive of business opportunities, including those of her native South Africa, begs for greater detail.  Although economically the most advanced and prosperous country in sub-Saharan Africa, with an economy that depends heavily on mining and petrochemicals, South Africa has until recently had few or no enforceable environmental regulations.  It is a matter of public record, after all, that ambient air quality in Cape Town is worse than that of Calcutta, India, and that poor water and land management have resulted in long-term damage to the country’s resources.  Recent attempts by the South African government to impose pollution controls and remediation requirements on corporations and landowners have met with ferocious resistance, including public opposition from President Mbeki, which Bernstein approvingly discusses on page 235.

    The author also quotes a vitriolic statement from James Shikwati of Kenya (from Dreissen):

    Why do Europe’s developed countries impose their environmental ethics on poor countries that are simply trying to pass through a stage they themselves went through?  After taking numerous risks to reach their current economic and technological status, why do they tell poor countries to use no energy, and no agricultural or pest control technologies that might pose some conceivable risk of environmental harm?  Why do they tell poor countries to follow sustainable development doctrines that really mean little or no energy or economic development?” (Bernstein 108, Dreissen 30)

    Although Ms. Bernstein does not explain who Mr. Shikwati is, he is a prominent Kenyan libertarian economist, founder and Director of the Inter Region Economic Network, and has argued that foreign aid to sub-Saharan Africa does nothing materially to aid the common people, but only abets government corruption and unbalances the national economy.

    In response to Ms. Bernstein, and by extension to Mr. Shikwati, it is true that the position of the developing world is different from that of the developed world when it comes to issues such as clean energy and the development of natural resources.  The developed world has the comparative luxury of an existing infrastructure, so that introducing clean power is essentially a matter of replacing old fossil fuel plants.  Developing nations often have to build a nation’s infrastructure from scratch, which understandably results in a measure of frustration when foreign pressures are brought to bear to invest in unfamiliar wind turbines or solar power, rather than simply burning readily-available coal.

    The same paradigm is true for many other issues, such as food or water resources—what appear to be ‘luxury items’ in the developed world, such being able to afford to turn away from apparent means towards progress, e.g. effective but toxic pesticides such as DDT, genetically-modified food, or a willingness to accept significant degradation of the environment in exchange for economic development—are simply not options to states such as Kenya.  Without DDT there are malaria epidemics, without dams there is no water for irrigating farmland, and without genetically-modified food, there is famine. 

    The paradoxical result is that the developed world can afford unspoiled land but has only land scarred by two centuries of man’s labors, while the developing world has unspoiled land but cannot afford not to spoil it.  Ms. Bernstein argues that nations in the developing world should have a free hand to regulate their own environmental practices, free of interference by NGOs or strings attached to loans from the World Bank, and by extension those of the corporations operating under their jurisdiction—in essence, to retain the right to sacrifice the environment in exchange for economic progress.

    Although Ms. Bernstein disingenuously ignores it, the fact remains, that the developed world has come to its current state of environmental knowledge through bitter experience—consider the Great Smog of London, the Love Canal toxic waste dump in the US, the Bhopal catastrophe in India, or the Hungarian sludge lagoon disaster of 2010.  Industry’s opposition to South Africa’s new environmental regulations is not very different from the furor their US counterparts raised in the early 1980s, in the wake of the “Big Six” environmental laws.

    In summary, this book is adequate for its purpose—a focused polemic in favor of a specific view of the role of business corporations in the developing world.  Those wishing a balanced or more comprehensive view of development, international business, or environmental affairs in the developing would be well advised to look elsewhere.

  • EdG
    "Green Movement" Has Limitations Even in Boulder...28
    Topic last edited January 19, 2012 by EdGElite Contributor 
    Title:
    "Green Movement" Has Limitations Even in Boulder CO
    Content:

    WSJ (2/13/10) "Even Boulder Finds It Isn't Easy Going Green."  Boulder, CO is a "place where residents tend to be politically liberal and passionate about the great outdoors."  However, researchers and "implementers" of the 'energy efficient' measures of the city alike have "found it's exceedingly difficult to get them [City of Boulder residents] to do much of anything."

    Resident George Karakehian considers himself quite green: drives a hybrid, recycles, uses energy efficient light bulbs.  But he refuses to shut his door to his downtown art gallery when his heating and air conditioning is on. 

    "Mr. Karakehian knows he wasting energy.  He doesn't care."  ... so there is limits to being green for even the most "conscientious" green-thinkers ....

  • JHuntress
    Greening the Empire State Building
    Topic posted March 8, 2010 by JHuntressElite Contributor 
    Title:
    Greening the Empire State Building
    Content:

    This is a neat article that D. Crocker sent my way today.

    Perfect opportunity, alignment, cost model and some neat facts about the transparency of it all.

    CCI, in conjunction with Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle, and the Rocky Mountain Institute, did an eight-month modeling and projections analysis, tacked on $13.2 million for a greening initiative and came up with a way to reduce the 79-year-old building’s electricity needs by almost 40 percent – saving the owners $4.4 million, annually. Then they released the model of the entire process, “a total record of everything,” as Baczko describes it, to anyone who wants to follow it, right on www.esbsustainability.com.

    Read more here.

  • Nate Gillette
    Energy Star's Dirty Little Secret
    Topic posted February 8, 2010 by Nate GilletteMember 
    Title:
    Energy Star's Dirty Little Secret
    Content:

    We hear more and more every day about green building certification programs and in some instances how their use has been mandated by units of government.  One of the poster children of the green building certification world has been Energy Star.  Everyone recognizes the logo and its branding carries a lot of weight.  However, there is a fundamental flaw in the system that makes me cringe every time I think about Energy Star's building certification.

    Energy Star and the Portfolio Manger rely on the 2003 CBECS database to benchmark against and compare buildings. This is a 7 year old study with only 5000 buildings across the entire US. Frankly, a lot has changed in buildings and energy use over that 7 year period. The dirty little secret that most people don't realize is that those who enter their building information in Portfolio Manager are NOT contributing to the database and increasing the number of buildings to benchmark against.

    "Privacy issues" has been cited as the reason that data isn't further collected and benchmarked against. Simple solution, projects that enter data into the Portfolio Manger need to agree to share their information anonymously.

    By their own report 120,000 buildings have been measured with Energy Star and nearly 9,000 buildings have acheived full Energy Star status since 1999.  Think of the opportunity to create a statistically meaningful building benchmarking system that has been squandered.  As the program operates today, if I go to Portfolio Manager and put in my building's information I'm still being compared to those same 5000 buildings with 7 year old data. How is that an accurate or meaningful comparison?  Frankly this program needs some serious overhaul before an Energy Star score will carry any weight in my mind.

    Through the years of working with green buildings I've determined that having a meaningful benchmarking system to compare buildings against is something I'll never see. The only way to truly benchmark a building's performance is against itself.

  • Nate Gillette
    ASHRAE 189.1 Standard Released1
    Topic last edited January 19, 2012 by Nate GilletteMember 
    Title:
    ASHRAE 189.1 Standard Released
    Content:

    ASHRAE in conjunction with the USGBC and IESNA recently released the much anticipated 189 High Performance Building Standard.  The 189 Standard was designed to provide a framework for building green buildings, touching on the key areas of sustainability including; site issues, water efficiency, energy reduction and conservation, building material use, and indoor environmental quality issues.   

    This new standard is significant for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that the 189 Standard is the first building code-ready standard for sustainable and green building in the US. 

    I've been following 189's development since its inception about 2 1/2 years ago.  In the early stages of its development this standard was pushed for heavily by the USGBC.  It was stated at one point that the USGBC never intended the LEED system to be named in mandatory building codes.  LEED has always been designed as a voluntary program aimed at the top 25% (in terms of performance) of buildings designed and built today.  However, there was nothing else on the market comparable to the LEED program.  Consequently, we've seen LEED baked into legislation of mandatory green building requirements at the local, state, and federal levels. 

    With the new 189 Standard it will be easier for municipalities and units of government to adopt mandatory green building requirements without boxing themselves into one green building program.  Adopting this code wont be much different for a municipality than any of the other ASHRAE standards in current legislation. I.E. the 99.1 Energy Performance Standard which happens to be the energy code in a lot of places, including here in Michigan. 

    Anyone else followed this Standard through its development? 

  • JHuntress
    Green Building Due Diligence11
    Topic last edited January 19, 2012 by JHuntressElite Contributor 
    Title:
    Green Building Due Diligence
    Content:
    If you are involved with property due diligence and are seeing a trend towards green building (EnergyStar, LEED, Green Globe) then the thought of green building due diligence is probably on your radar.  It has been proposed that the following 10 aspects should be covered in any Green Building Due Diligence effort:

    1. Property and building basics (building age, building use, last major renovation, number of floors, square footage, occupancy, heating system, air conditioning system, etc.)
    2. Electrical usage/cost (previous 12 months)
    3. Oil/Natural Gas/Steam usage/cost (previous 12 months)
    4. Benchmark against peers
    5. Water usage/cost (previous 12 months)
    6. Carbon footprint/carbon neutral potential
    7. Energy audit history
    8. Building “green” certification (e.g., LEED, EnergyStar, etc.)?
    9. Applicable energy efficiency ordinances/codes (local/federal)
    10. Applicable incentives for energy efficiency improvements (federal, state, local, utility)

    Do you think anything is missed?  Would information like this benefit your clients? 

    There is some discussion suggesting that this should be taken to ASTM to develop a standard around property transactions to benefit the prospective purchaser.
  • Jeff Telego
    Differences Between Green Remediation & Sustainable...1
    Topic last edited January 19, 2012 by Jeff TelegoMember 
    Title:
    Differences Between Green Remediation & Sustainable Remediation
    Content:

    EPA's released on September 8th its Superfund Green Remediation Strategy for public comment.  How will this guidance be used in conjunction with the other green remediation and sustainable remediation standards and guidelines developed or under development by the states, ASTM and industry?

    Certain states such as California, Illinois and Minnesota are in cooperation with EPA and have developed policies, procedures and green cleanup standards at contaminated sites.  In addition EPA is collaborating with ASTM International to complete an actual standard by 2011 on green cleanup for a broad range of waste sites. Furthermore, the Interstate Technology & Regulatory Council is developing a series of strategy papers dealing with ways state cleanup programs can incorporate green remediation into cleanups.

    In addition, a coalition of industry, state and federal government entities and environmental consultancies formed the Sustainable Remediation Forum of 200 plus members.  They authored a white paper entitled "Sustainable Remediation White Paper - Integrating Sustainable Principles, Practices, and Metrics into Remediation Projects."  The white paper addresses integrating sustainable principles and standardized methodologies, such as Life-cycle assessment, to determine the environmental and human health impacts of products and services involved in remediations as well as to discuss the impediments and barriers that may hinder the implementation of sustainable remediation.  These barriers and impediments of concern focus on the lack of a well-defined framework and agreed-upon metrics, attainment of regulatory consensus on how to integrate these metrics, and a framework within the current regulatory structure. There is also the concern about the lack of financial or certification incentives to encourage innovation and adaption of sustainable remediation practices. 

    The purpose of this thread is to focus on two questions:

     Is green remediation synonymous with sustainable remediation? 

    How do you see the EPA Superfund Green Remediation Strategy supporting the other work products that have been introduced and used in the marketplace?

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