According to the U.S. Green Building Council, commercial buildings account for 36% of total energy consumption, 65% of total electricity consumption, 30% of total greenhouse gas emissions (more than the transportation and manufacturing sectors), 30% of raw materials use, 30% of total waste output and 12% of total potable water consumption. Apart from the cost related to these staggering statistics, it simply is not responsible or sustainable to ignore the value of a LEED-oriented approach to development. While today less than 8% of commercial developments are LEED-certified, this number is projected to jump to 10-12% of the market by 2012. WRC joins a growing global community in the belief that organizations must do more to seize opportunities to make a positive contribution to the environment. With millions of commercial square feet being developed by 2015, commercial real estate will unfortunately remain the largest polluter in the U.S. with emissions increasing approximately 1.8% annually through 2030. In the past, ‘energy issues’ only captured the public’s and senior management’s attention during times of crisis. Today, owners and investors alike are paying greater attention to the dramatic impact energy efficiency efforts are having on bottom lines and property values.
Real estate companies that fail to improve energy management practices miss opportunities to reduce operating costs and market themselves as proactive, environmentally responsible companies. Lenders and investors alike look to the expense side of operations to measure relative financial performance. Pursuing a strategic energy program eliminates uncertainty in understanding energy markets and dealing with energy price increases; offers alternatives for possible future greenhouse gas emission reduction problems/regulations and penalties at the state (9 states and 40+ municipalities have passed legislation mandating LEED-certified buildings) and Federal levels; and neutralizes the eventual negative impact of decreasing cash flows and property valuations. WRC is committed to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and its five key areas of sustainability impacting human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
Additionally, refer to the summary below to learn more about our Whitestone Institute program. Armed with national programs for job creation, eco education, policy outreach and technology innovation, Whitestone Institutes will create and coordinate with local and regional sustainability institutes to accelerate the transformative impact of sustainable and renewable energy technologies on the welfare of individuals, families, communities and the environment.
Apart from the all the socially responsible reasons supporting WRC’s Green Development Program, the reason why we care is simple:
ENERGY MANAGEMENT CORRELATES POSITIVELY WITH FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE
Lighting accounts for an increasingly significant amount of the total energy consumed in commercial buildings, three times the amount consumed by air conditioning. One of the most expedient ways to achieve greater energy efficiency is to reduce consumption – the simplest means of achieving energy conservation is to focus on innovative lighting solutions. All LEED programs encourage high-performance lighting program that includes enhanced energy-efficient lighting (e.g., LED systems recommended by the US Department of Energy), utilizing track lighting whenever feasible and using sensors and controls to reduce the use of unnecessary lighting.
Demand Control Ventilation Systems – A Proven, Straightforward Solution
There are many opportunities for owners to take advantage of tax incentives for developing smart, energy efficient buildings. For example, a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot is available to owners of new or existing commercial buildings that are constructed or reconstructed to save at least 50% of the heating, cooling, ventilation, water heating, and interior lighting energy cost of a building that meets ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2001. In this regard, most buildings have been over-developed in regard to heating and cooling requirements. This is particularly true of large spaces in transient buildings and storage and/or dead space in virtually all buildings. Energy efficiency cost avoidance can be captured by simply adjusting for this inefficiency.
Demand-controlled ventilation adjusts outside ventilation air brought into the building based on the number of occupants and the ventilation demands that those occupants create. DCV is part of a building’s ventilation system control strategy. It may include hardware, software, and control strategy and is an integral part of a building’s ventilation design. DCV is a ventilation control strategy that provides just the right amount of outside air that is needed by the occupants. Active control of the ventilation system can provide the opportunity to control indoor air quality.
Basically, the system saves energy and improves the bottom line. First, it saves energy by not heating or cooling unnecessary quantities of outside air. Second, it can provide assurance that sufficient outside air is being supplied to the occupants. Fixed ventilation systems provide constant, sufficient fresh air, but do so at the cost of heating or cooling excess air.
In many developments, WRC will financially support the development of project-specific, non-profit Whitestone Institutes to work interactively with state/local officials, and community-based stakeholder groups to develop customized job creation and sustainability programs. Using the most innovative and cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy products to satisfy all clean energy generation and conservation solutions, the mission of the Institutes is to implement these clean energy solutions using comprehensive programs tailored to the needs of each project.
Each Institute will be established as a 501(c)3 entity to aggressively promote Institute collaborations that will include labor unions, environmentalists, community-based organizations and “green” businesses for the purpose of creating high quality jobs for urban and minority-based residents, improving public health through efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy development programs focused on achieving cost-effective, energy independence for regional community.
Institute goals will include:
• Policy: Support and advance policies aimed at stimulating the advancement of renewable energy technologies consistent with Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and the expansion of energy efficiency requirements within new construction and renovation, rehabilitation, redevelopment of existing real estate.
• Jobs Creation: Develop and administer new and existing technical certification programs providing career opportunities to local residents with specific preference given to unemployed and underemployed, women, minorities, at-risk youth, and youth veterans (20-24 year of age).
• Private Sector Institute Alliance Building: Build and grow alliances with labor unions, community organizations focused on environmental policy, community colleges, major employers and state departments managing workforce development to develop internships and create full-time jobs within such areas as rooftop solar and solar/thermal installation, weatherization of public buildings (e.g., primary and secondary schools, city/municipal administration facilities, public event facilities, etc.), commercial businesses and construction-related jobs related to LEED-certified developments.
• Eco Education: Create and implement eco education and environmental literacy programs for public schools and adult education.