Consider these statistics: The commercial office building industry spends approximately $24 billion annually on energy and is the single-largest operating expense for office buildings, typically a third of variable expenses. With such a large investment made each year in this valuable resource, BOMA International wanted to assist BOMA members in making environmentally friendly decisions for their properties by creating an online resource, the Green Resource Energy and Environment Network, or GREEN, viewable at www.boma.org/green.
With the increased buzz in the media surrounding green initiatives, many different Web sites and media outlets have been introduced -- almost too many. BOMA's goal in developing the GREEN was to help property managers wade through the sea of information by creating a one-stop, all-encompassing information portal. Busy property owners, managers and industry associates can log on to the site and identify solutions that work best for their portfolios.
One of the most popular areas of the site is the "Industry Insights" section that highlights techniques for companies that are just getting started with their energy-efficiency program as well as for organizations looking to enhance an existing program. As the site is frequently updated, property owners and managers can rely on the GREEN as a source for the latest trends, research and best practices. Downloadable tip sheets are also available on the site and property owners and managers can use these as a roadmap when implementing the suggested cost-saving techniques in their own offices.
"I use the BOMA GREEN constantly," said Cybele Thompson, vice president and general manager of CarrAmerica. "The Web site contains helpful documents that are immediately useable by CarrAmerica's property management team. It's easy to put them into every day action and reduce energy consumption, while saving our tenants money."
The wealth of information on the GREEN also shows property owners and managers how they can enlist tenants and employees in the efforts to save energy at their properties. Some ideas include:
¥ Ask tenants and staff for ideas to conserve energy, and recognize them for their efforts.
¥ Communicate the need to manage individual and collective energy use through posters, employee/tenant e-mails and newsletters.
¥ Reduce plug-load during the lunch hour by turning off computers, printers and monitors not in use.
¥ Turn off other ancillary devices such as desk fans, radios, lamps and especially space heaters.
¥ Use task lighting instead of overhead lighting whenever possible.
¥ When purchasing new office equipment, look for the Energy Star logo indicating energy-efficient models.
For more tenant related initiatives, visit the "Tenant Conservation Tips" article on the GREEN site.
On the advocacy front, BOMA International has been a driving force behind several key energy initiatives, including the commercial buildings tax deduction that was included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Now property owners and managers can log on to the GREEN to keep up to date with important federal legislative and regulatory issues. The "Energy Issues and Policy" section of the site addresses the need for up-to-date information on issues such as national energy policy, green building and sustainability and the ASHRAE Standard 90.1. The site also includes all of BOMA's official policy positions.
"Advocacy is such an important part of BOMA's work on a state and national level," said Ray Magnussen, president of BOMA San Diego and a principal with San Diego Services. "The GREEN gives members the opportunity to become familiar with the work BOMA is doing in government affairs and shows property owners and managers how they can put the government's green incentives to good use at their properties."
Beyond policy updates, the advocacy section also boasts an Energy Resource Center filled with articles and industry trends to promote voluntary steps to reduce energy emissions. During the past few years, the state of California has seen a push for more reliable energy sources, especially in the commercial and industrial industries, which are forced to operate during peak energy use hours. With the threat of rolling blackouts, critical peak pricing mandates and serious electricity shortages, BOMA International's Board of Governors unanimously passed a resolution calling for all members to immediately address energy issues at their properties. The resolution also called on the federal government to urgently address energy supply and reliability issues.
To keep BOMA members ahead of the game, the Energy Resource Center offers code developments and tips such as last resort load shed information, HVAC conservation guidelines and long-term energy saving solutions. These articles encourage owners and managers to conduct energy audits and to contact local utility representatives to recommend energy efficient options, demonstrating to the federal government the commercial real estate industry's commitment to energy efficiency.
Driving ROI for energy-related projects
One of the biggest concerns for property managers when implementing new programs is how to measure the return on investment (ROI). Owners and managers often have to defend energy programs against client and tenant misconceptions that these programs are expensive or have no immediate benefits. This is where the GREEN is especially helpful -- the site provides property owners and managers with statistics and case studies to back up the argument for efficiency and advice on how to really drive ROI for the programs of their choice. For example, one method to offset initial costs is to take advantage of new federal tax incentives, such as the 30 percent credit for installing solar roofing panels. In addition, soft benefits such as boosts in employee productivity and tenant comfort should also be measured as part of ROI.
An example of just a few of the statistics on the GREEN include:
¥ According to the U.S. Green Building Council, green strategies have the potential to achieve a 40 percent reduction in water use, reduce energy costs and harmful emissions from power generation by 30 percent.
¥ Surveys reveal operating costs can decline 8 percent or more from green-building practices.
¥ Green-design elements are now estimated to add 2 percent or sometimes nothing at all to construction costs.
¥ Green programs during construction or tenant improvements can divert 50 percent to 75 percent of construction and demolition waste for projects.
¥ The creation of healthy atmospheres to work in with more daylight and better thermal comfort could increase productivity by as much as $180 million industry-wide.
The GREEN is the latest initiative in BOMA International's long and accomplished history of working on energy and environmental issues. BOMA International believes reducing energy consumption and taking other steps to "green" existing buildings helps keep properties competitive in the marketplace with new construction, tenant and environmental benefits. As the site is constantly evolving, BOMA encourages commercial real estate professionals to frequently check the GREEN for new updates and information.