by Jodi Summers
Corner offices and cubicles are so last century… The new millennium workspace is versatile and green, with options for focused, individual work, telecommuting and is fully equipped to support collaborative groups, team projects and social interaction.
NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, recently held an Office Building of the Future design competition. The winning designers identified several common themes that could drive changes in how we “office” in the future. The biggest driver for change is technology. Personal technology which has untethered workers from by providing the capability of completing service and information-based tasks from wherever they choose…no longer necessitating that they commute to an office. In our green future, an individual with a laptop can work from home, or at a wi-fi equipped location, or any variety of locations along the road.
Green gets brighter. The office building of the future will be more affordable to build and operate, thanks to advances and cost reductions in construction materials and systems. Sustainability will become financially viable. Net-zero buildings will meet the demands of tenants as well as the improved building performance sought by building owners and developers.
Diversity and flexibility is key. The company of the future doesn’t have one grand office rather they have several smaller hub locations, efficiently located closer to their workforce and rapid transit.
“Office design is changing rapidly and our industry needs to position itself ahead of the curve,” offers Thomas J. Bisacquino, NAIOP president and chief executive officer. “This unique competition opened the door to thinking about what an ‘office’ may look like in the very near future.”
guest post by Jonah Trenton – refinancemortgagerates.com
Energy-efficient homes increase in value and provide homeowners lower utility bills in the future. At present, people involved in home building and renovation are finding new ways of reducing the use of natural resources. Green design alone is not enough to build or renovate a home. However, financing a greener home requires spending money. This is why there are programs designed for homeowners to incorporate technology to save on energy and bills. Homeowners can also consider refinancing to save the monthly funds needed for green upgrades.
Southern California is one place where the weather can be hot during summer months. Homeowners will need to use air-conditioner to experience comfortable cooling. However, some cooling equipment can take their toll on the homeowner’s utility bills. This is why part of remodeling homes should include choosing cooling equipment that allows big savings. With energy-efficient air conditioners, people can save up to 10 percent of total energy costs.
Southern California also has high water pressure that can result in large water bills. When low flow fixtures are installed, water consumption can be reduced between 50 and 70 percent. The device for low flow fixtures cost around $8.
Programs That Can Finance a Greener Home
• Federal Housing Authority Loans
Federal Housing Authority loans are intended for properties on the market that require repairs or renovation. Lenders see these properties as risky. When homeowners decide to convert properties into greener homes, the repair cost is financed into the loan. A down payment of 3.5 percent is required. This is based on the total purchase price and the cost of repairs. The amount of money that borrowers will receive is based on the property’s as-is value. This still does not include the costs of repairs. Lenders can finance up to $35,000 to cover the renovation costs when borrowers choose a streamlined mortgage. It is important that specific requirements such as energy efficiency standards are met.
Homeowners who want to consider greener homes may also seek financial assistance from the Energy Star program. They evaluate energy usage in electronics, heating and cooling products and building materials. They also offer lower cost loans for new homes. Homeowners who want energy efficient renovations can also rely on the program. It is important for borrowers to complete an energy audit to qualify for the program. A twenty percent reduction in energy usage is required for existing homes.
• Department of Housing and Urban Development Energy Efficient Mortgages
Homeowners can reduce the costs for energy efficiency upgrades when they choose to borrow from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
They provide refinanced and new mortgages, and the program is available in all 50 states.
Next Post, energy efficient home renovations
by Jodi Summers
The Port of Long Beach is blue and green. The water is blue. The port is green, as they have implemented an exemplary green port policy to try and maintain the environment while they are shipping freight around the world.
The Green Port Policy is an aggressive, comprehensive and coordinated approach to reduce the negative impacts of Port operations. Founded in 1911, the 3,200-acre Port of Long Beach is a premier gateway for trade between the United States and Asia. More than $140 billion worth of cargo moves through the Port every year – everything from clothing and furniture to machinery and petroleum. They try to be green while going through this process.
- Protect the community from harmful environmental impacts of Port operations.
- Distinguish the Port as a leader in environmental stewardship and compliance.
- Promote sustainability.
- Employ best available technology to avoid or reduce environmental impacts.
- Engage and educate the community.
The Green Port Policy directs the Port to integrate sustainable plans practices into Port development and operations by actively promoting an organizational culture of environmental enhancement, fiscal responsibility, and community integrity. Current areas of focus are outlined below…
California passed landmark greenhouse gas legislation, The Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), in 2006. Although the state has yet to formalize greenhouse gas regulations for the port sector, the Port of Long Beach has already begun quantifying greenhouse gas emissions and formulating a plan for reductions. The Board of Harbor Engineers adopted a formal resolution establishing a framework for conducting business while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They have assembled a multi-divisional Renewable Energy Working Group that is currently evaluating Port lands for solar- and wind-power opportunities.
The Clean Air Action Plan and Sustainability
The Clean Air Action Plan, adopted by the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports in 2006, is guided by the three components of sustainability:
1. Environmental Responsibility
· Air quality improvements
· Energy/fuel efficiency improvements
· Advances new technologies
· Creates model for regulators and politicians
· Ecological health side benefits
· Equitable distribution of financial burden
· Helps the Port maintain its “license to operate”
3. Social responsibility
· Human health risk reductions
· Includes stakeholders in decision making
· Creates jobs
· Process is transparent
· Protects integrity of workers
The Green Port Integrating Committee’s working group has the task of integrating the Green Port Policy, including sustainability, into all operations.
The Engineering Bureau is in its second year of implementing an American Association of Port Authorities-guided Environmental Management System (EMS), which establishes sustainable storm water practices during construction projects.
The waste paper and container recycling program is conducted in partnership with the Conservation Corps Long Beach, a non-profit organization that educates and trains at-risk youth.
The pilot solar car port has been up and running for almost a year. This is the first step in the process that will maximize renewable energy through the Harbor District.
Green Building principles are incorporated into new building design through the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program.
Environmentally-preferable purchasing, for everything from pens to fleet vehicles, informs the way we buy. In the future, we’ll be paying even more attention to carbon footprints, especially with regard to building materials.
The Port of Long Beach is an incredible complex, moving around 115,000 TEUs – Twenty-foot equivalent unit) each month. It’s totally worth checking, if you get the chance.
California is an example of green construction. In 2008, state energy regulators adopted a long-term plan that called for having all new residential buildings achieve zero net energy use by 2020 and having all commercial buildings achieve zero net energy use by 2030. The provisions also reduce water use by 20% and divert 50% of construction waste from landfills.
L.A. is on track to reduce the city’s carbon emissions 35% below 1990 levels by 2030. Our goal is the greatest reduction target of any large US city. It takes the state’s stringent CalGreen building codes a step further.
So going forward, we’re good, but we’re still dealing with an existing building stock, and some antiquated customs and equipment all the way around. Restructuring a structure’s infrastructure (say that 3x fast) is not an overnight process. We are sprinting toward net zero construction, yet large parts of the old-style building infrastructure will still dominate the landscape for the next century.
Any improvements and renovations made to your properties can impact the environment. Be conscious of your choices in paint and floor coverings. Anything you upgrade on your properties can be done with green in mind heating, plumbing, and electric all offer green fixes that can save the business money on the long term, and increase profitability on resale.
But some things are a slow fix…we may be building green buildings, but the machinery used to construct the property may not be. You’ve seen those backhoes and cranes bellowing black diesel carbon fumes. Around the shop, some old power tools use 3x the needed energy.
Construction equipment companies are catching on. JCB is aware of their duty to make their plant machinery more environmentally sound. For example, the Scot JCB Digger has numerous variations including the brand new 3CX-ECO with increased fuel efficiency in all aspects of its functionality.
Construction companies – particularly in Southern California – are up to speed on CalGreen construction, ICC codes, and other modern methods. Our fair county is an example of sound building, with cities like West Hollywood, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica offering some of the strictest green construction codes in the country, if not the world. And we’re setting an example for going forward. Today’s green apprentice may someday become the foremen of their own company, selling jobs and their bids.
Green building goes beyond the edifice, it includes the source of the raw materials, and the distance they travelled, the equipment that goes into the building and that goes into building the building. Society is progressing forward at warp speed, and we’re along for the ride. Let’s do our best to contribute to the greater good for now and for generations to come.
Imagine getting a credit from SoCal Edison instead of a bill. Net-zero homeowners rely on power from utilities at night but get credit for the energy they produce during the day that they don’t consume. If you live in a smart home with solar power and get involved with California’s net meter programs, your energy credits for the power you create and do not use. Shine sun shine.
Net metering allows homeowners to get credit for the power they produce at a retail rate rather than a wholesale rate…nice incentive, yes? There is currently a cap on net metering programs, but experts say the cap won’t be hit any time soon.
“The energy that I don’t use Edison buys from me,” notes green home owner Steve Rosen. “It looks like I may not have an electric bill next year, because the electricity, all of it is going to keep on adding to that credit. I still have to pay delivery and handling charges, but that is just a couple of bucks a month.”
Environmentalists began pushing for California to mandate that new homes come with renewable energy systems in the early 2000s, as the technology became more scalable and available. Now there’s no other way.
In 2008, California energy regulators adopted a long-term plan that called for having all new residential buildings achieve zero net energy use by 2020 and having all commercial buildings achieve zero net energy use by 2030. And…it looks like we just might get there.
Sunny day? Let it shine…and let it make you money.
by Jodi Summers
Smart cities are not one size fits all. Sure, the smart-cities movement could benefit from frameworks that allow a common language to develop amongst citizens, city staff, mayors, and the private sector, but at the moment, our CalGreen is as wide sweeping a municipal code.
But, we know what we’re doing. Here 3 examples of other world cities with smart plans.
Bravo to Copenhagen’s efforts to promote and prioritize bicycling. In 1981, the city developed its first cycling plan and it has been evolving its cycling and mixed-modal goals since 2002.
But the Danes were already ahead of the curve on transportation smart thought. Copenhagen has been measuring cycling and mixed modal use for decades. Now the city has a target indicator: to achieve 50% of all trips to work or school by bike by 2015. The city has been making significant progress towards this goal, having already achieved 37% in 2009. Copenhagen collaborated with MIT to create the Copenhagen Wheel. Though it looks like an ordinary bicycle wheel with an oversized center, the hybrid’s bright red hub is a veritable Swiss army knife’s worth of electronic gadgets and novel real-time functions. This revolutionary new bicycle wheel not only boosts power, but has sensors that can keep track of friends, fitness, smog and traffic in real time.
Vancouver Mayor Robertson and his Greenest City Action Team engaged 30,000+ citizens in a process designed to establish a 2020 goal for the city. The city used “social media and digital technologies to spark citizen-led public-engagement activities like kitchen table discussions at private homes, online discussion forums and workshops at community centers,” according to Straight.com. The result is the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, which has set a clear goal for the city to become the greenest in the world by 2020. (Isn’t that Santa Monica’ goal too?)
Toronto recently announced a pilot charging station program at a cost of $65,000 to the city. Councilor Mike Layton recognizes the benefits of this small-scale action: “We all know that this is the direction that singular vehicle transport is going in,” said Layton in the National Post. “Why we wouldn’t at least try out something at very limited cost to the city, to get ready for the revolution that is going to happen, is beyond me.”
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