Archive for September, 2010

Tech Firms and Carbon Disclosure

September 30, 2010

Posted by:
Michael Jordan
Energy and Sustainability Services

I was happy to see in the most recent Carbon Disclosure Project results that, in addition to other industry sectors, carbon disclosure reporting among technology companies has increased.  In the latest report from the CDP (an organization backed by 534 institutional investors representing more than $US64 trillion in funds under management), it was noted that responses from the tech sector in 2010 increased from 78 to 84.  Scope 3 emissions were reported by 65 percent of the respondents, which is an important indicator that companies are looking at a broad swath of their impact.

Technology companies and their products account for about 2 percent of global carbon emissions.  But the answer is not to produce less technology; because we need more innovation, more information, and more connectedness in order to reduce the other 98 percent.  Some estimates say that the technology sector support can reduce five times its own footprint when applied to other businesses.

Technology companies are most concerned with the resilience of their manufacturing facilities and data centers when faced with extreme weather events.  Energy efficiency is also a concern in data centers (not just for technology companies!).  Software companies understandably see opportunities to help monitor, manage, and reduce the carbon footprint of their clients.  And by positioning products and services as tools in carbon mitigation, some are seeing important brand reputation benefits as well.

There is much work remaining.  But there is cause to be optimistic since reporting and improvement actions are trending up.

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Coordinated lighting solutions

September 28, 2010

Posted by:
Don Jacklin
Philips Lighting

After a building has realized the cost benefits of retrocommissioning and other low-cost energy strategies, what’s next? For many, the answer is to retrofit lighting systems. A recent Jones Lang LaSalle report notes that lighting accounts for up to 40 percent of total energy use at some office buildings. And the cost to upgrade lighting systems is less than the utility cost savings gained over just a few years’ time.

The benefits go beyond operational savings: Green buildings tend to see higher rents and occupancy rates than other buildings. Part of the reason may be that prospective tenants view features like lighting control systems as evidence that the building is keeping pace with new technologies.

As more owners undertake lighting retrofits, many learn that an integrated strategy is the best way to go. Lighting systems include lamps, ballasts, luminaries and controls, often from different suppliers, and may be installed by a contractor who is unaffiliated with any of the suppliers. If something does not work correctly, pinpointing the source of the problem can be very difficult. And if everything works but the anticipated energy savings do not come through, pinpointing the problem may be nearly impossible. Savvy owners are realizing that a coordinated solution from one supplier offers the greatest level of certainty that the system will perform as promised.

Australian building owners reveal all

September 27, 2010

Posted by:
Matthew Clifford
Energy and Sustainability Services, Australia

After many months of preparation, mandatory disclosure of the energy performance of buildings finally comes into effect from 1 November. This means that any time office space of greater than 2,000 sqm is sold, leased or sub-leased, landlords or sub-lessors must disclose an official NABERS Energy rating for the building, or face fines of over $100,000. This is a strong and positive shift in the industry. It will bring unprecedented transparency by allowing potential purchasers and tenants to compare energy performance at a glance.  I anticipate that this will significantly raise the profile of energy management in landlord-tenant relationships.

The scheme has had a very long pregnancy, having been first discussed in 2004, yet surprisingly, many owners are still struggling to understand how the scheme will work, and what they need to do to comply.  Owners of highly efficient buildings will be well placed to preserve asset values and rents.  However, those with buildings that perform poorly or are un-rated will need to move quickly to develop a strategy for complying with the scheme and effectively marketing their buildings.  

For many, this will be the first time a NABERS rating has been performed on their building.  As this process can be time consuming and complex, it is important to start early.  You can read more here.

Live from CoreNet: Green Globes assessments

September 21, 2010

Posted by:
Mary Curtiss
Energy and Sustainability Services

Yesterday I went to a really good CoreNET session “The Story Behind McDonalds Green Globes Assessments,” a presentation by my colleague Michael Jordan.  What a great program for establishing a baseline measurement of the sustainability of an office portfolio.

The Green Globes tenant space assessment for McDonalds offices looked at five areas of environmental performance that are specific to offices in multi-tenant buildings:

  • Energy features and management practices
  • Employee commutation and travel
  • Material resources use
  • Waste stream management
  • Procurement practices

We view these sorts of assessments as annual checkups for your space.  Generating a sustainability score allows management to quantify performance and to identify gaps across the portfolio.  As opposed to assessing one building at a time, the portfolio analysis we did for McDonalds prioritized actions that the company could take across 25 offices for maximum return on effort.

For example, McDonalds was able to see which of its offices already are strong performers in employee commute reduction, which is important for carbon reduction and for employee convenience.  The offices that had not yet made progress managing commutes could learn from those with good practices.  By putting green teams and sustainability champions in place, armed with specific data about the portfolio’s environmental strengths and weaknesses, the corporate management team could focus improvement efforts where they would make the most difference.

Using a simple online tool like Green Globes is a great way to collect comparable data as well as for companies that are interested in exploring ENERGY STAR or LEED certification.

Follow us at CoreNet Global Summit

September 17, 2010

Posted by:
Peter Belisle, Americas
Energy and Sustainability Services

On Monday, I’ll be at the CoreNet Global Summit in Phoenix, where the theme is “Space Matters.”  I’ll contribute a blog or two to our CoreNet blog, as will Michael Jordan and Mary Curtiss, our experts in corporate energy and sustainability initiatives. On Monday afternoon, Michael will also discuss McDonald’s Green Globes Continual Improvement Tool for Existing Buildings.

As you might expect, there are a lot of sustainability oriented sessions at CoreNet. The more space matters, the more sustainability matters.