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Tag Archives | energy efficiency

Can USGBC Improve the Performance of LEED Buildings by Collecting More Data?

Mireya Navarro’s recent piece in the New York Times about the energy performance of LEED buildings does not really shed much new light on a topic that many of us have been paying close attention to for the past two years, particularly in the aftermath of the controversial New Buildings Institute study that claimed LEED buildings performed, on average, 25 percent better than the CBECS database. Nevertheless, Navarro’s piece seems timed to coincide with USGBC’s press release of August 25 that announced a new Building Performance Initiative which will complement the LEED Version 3.0 Minimum Program Requirements’ ongoing performance data reporting obligations in order for projects to maintain their LEED rating and avoid the unsavory potential consequences of decertification. Any commentary on this press release – at least in the blogosphere – appears to have been lost in the August doldrums, but I think it is worthwhile to consider an effort which could ultimately have major repercussions for the underpinnings of the LEED system itself. However, many building scientists will tell you that simply collecting more data does not necessarily translate into improved performance. Consider (after the jump) the following letter that was submitted to the New York Times by ASHRAE Fellow and Distinguished Lecturer Larry Spielvogel, P.E., in response to the USGBC press release announcing the Building Performance Initiative, which Mr. Spielvogel was kind enough to allow us to reprint here at GRELJ.

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Section 201 of Waxman-Markey Could Impose Energy Efficiency Mandates as Decried by NAIOP

As the Waxman-Markey climate change legislation heads to the Senate, I think it’s important to note that, as currently drafted, the bill includes provisions that could impose the types of energy efficiency mandates which NAIOP argued against in its controversial report that was released earlier this year. Section 201 of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) would first set baseline standards for all commercial (ASHRAE 90.1-2004) and residential buildings (the 2006 IECC code) and dates for certain percentage reduction targets in energy consumption over those baselines. The Act would require an immediate 30 percent reduction over those baselines once enacted (likely in 2011 or 2012 if the bill proceeds through the Senate and is implemented as drafted), followed closely by a 50 percent reduction by 2014 for residential buildings and 2015 for commercial buildings. The reduction mandate would increase by 5 percent every 3 years through 2029/2030 for a total reduction of 75 percent over the baselines. However, the Department of Energy would have the ability to increase or decrease the reduction targets based on technological feasibility. Section 201 further obligates state and local governments to adopt the codes, or their own codes that meet or exceed the established targets; the federal government itself will enforce the national codes if state and local governments fail to comply. If you recall the comments from NAIOP President Thomas Bisacquino in the aftermath of the uproar created by the NAIOP study, Waxman-Markey may ultimately create the precise scenario that NAIOP and its constituents feared: 30 to 50 percent reductions over ASHRAE 90.1-2004 in the short-term.

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NAIOP Responds to Critics by Making Case for Incentives to Boost Efficiency in Commercial Office Buildings

I took great interest in a number of the documents that NAIOP released in the aftermath of its controversial energy efficiency study. The organization has compiled both an FAQ and fact sheet detailing the various assumptions it made and conclusions it drew in an effort to clarify some of the unproductive vitriol that has flown around the web over the past month decrying its conclusion that 30 percent energy reductions are not practicable for the majority of commercial office properties. Both the fact sheet and FAQ are available on NAIOP’s web site and point out that the results of the study do not apply to all buildings; “[t]he study analyzes a typical office building that represents more than 50 percent of new Class A construction [that took place] in 2008.” NAIOP also clarifies that the subject building is a real 95,000-square-foot, speculative commercial office property in California, and claims that the results of its study show what’s possible for the “vast majority of new construction without having to redesign a typical office building,” calling the results “impressive.”

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Green Building Industry Apoplectic Over NAIOP Commercial Energy Efficiency Study

Ed Mazria said that it was “meant to confuse the public and stall meaningful legislation, insuring that America remains dependent on foreign oil, natural gas and dirty conventional coal.” Lloyd Alter of Treehugger called it “one of the dumbest studies that has crossed our screen in a while.” Danielle Sacks at Fast Company wants to “make sure studies like these don’t make it past their press release.” So what, if anything, are we to make of ConSol’s study, prepared for NAIOP, which concluded that the best possible scenario for energy efficiency improvements to a hypothetical 4-story, 95,000-square-foot office building is 23 percent over the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 Energy Standard? While we continue to wait for more meaningful data about the performance of green buildings, I think the study suggests the danger- for both legislators and stakeholders- of relying on energy modeling of any kind as the basis for policymaking or who agree to assist a green building project in achieving certain energy reductions by the terms of their construction contracts.

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Introduction to the Stimulus Package: Green Building and the Stimulus (Part I)

This is the first of a series of articles here at the Green Real Estate Law Journal on the impact that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will have on green building generally. Future articles will provide greater detail as to the projects utilizing federal funds in a multitude of states, some unique legal risks associated with these projects, and the disputes that may arise in connection with such projects. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “Recovery Act”) offers multiple opportunities for property owners, developers and other stakeholders in the green building arena. There are tens of billions of dollars in funding initiatives for green building in the Recovery Act. Many of the provisions are complex and the specific projects that are to be have yet to be fully provided. That being said, the commitment to green building is clearly apparent throughout the Recovery Act and a quick summary of the critical green building funding proposals are detailed after the jump.

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Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008: Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction Extended Through 2013

I had the pleasure earlier today of leading a conference call with Studley to review provisions of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (the formal title for the $700 federal bailout that was passed back on October 3, referred to herein as the Bailout) relating to energy efficiency in commercial office buildings. Most of the applicable provisions of the Bailout actually extend existing tax deductions and credits, though it does provide additional incentives that I will detail in a subsequent post. Perhaps the most critical provision for commercial owners, operators, and tenants to note is the Energy Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction, which was enacted back in 2005 as Section 179D of the 2005 Energy Policy Act. Prior to the Bailout, Section 179D was slated to expire at the end of 2008, but has now been extended through December 13, 2013. In this article, I will review Section 179D in detail. A subsequent post will detail the Bailout’s significant expansion of the Business Energy Tax Credit that was previously enacted as Section 48 of the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

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