Energy efficient buildings: Making commercial real estate a priority

August 24, 2012

The fight to limit the amount people pay at the pump is one that has led Americans to think about more efficient fuels and cleaner options than gasoline. This type of push, starting with the championing of the economic impact of the transition, is now being mirrored by those who operate in the commercial real estate industry.

According to the Next American City, cities like Philadelphia have looked to reducing emissions in commercial buildings as the next "Miles Per Gallon" issue in energy efficiency. Though this project is not simple, and would likely require a policy change, these structures consume a significant amount of energy.

Because commercial buildings have tremendous potential to become more efficient, it is something that experts in the industry and lawmakers expect to occur in the coming decade. Both economic and energy efficient reasons have been cited for why companies should make these adoptions.

"Benchmarking policies require building owners to measure their properties’ energy use and disclose it to the public, the local government and in some cases, directly to tenants," noted one industry expert. "The purpose of benchmarking energy use is twofold: To make markets more efficient, and to use policy to reduce costs and, ultimately, create jobs."

Five cities in the U.S. have already made moves to pass legislation regarding the benchmarking of energy use, including New York and Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is also looking to become a center for energy efficient buildings, as the U.S. Department of Energy designated an innovation Hub dedicated to the sector in the city's historic naval yard.

The Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) is hoping to transform the commercial real estate market across the U.S. by using the building stock of Philadelphia as an example for how making upgrades and starting retrofit projects can lead to cost reductions and lowered emissions.

The EEB Hub is also looking to create clean jobs out of the potential retrofit boom, and the DOE is right in line with this thinking.

According to an infographic released by the agency, there is significant opportunity for the clean energy sector to create jobs, and companies and cities around the country have signed on to projects that are estimated to create more than 37,409 new employment opportunities.