Moving forward with energy efficient buildings and other green opportunities

August 20, 2012

The adoption of more stringent building codes and commercial real estate energy standards has been met with mixed sentiment from people in the industry, and despite the proven efficiency of green structures, the rising costs have raised some eyebrows.

According to the San Antonio Express, the latest updates that were proposed by the nonprofit International Code Council to the International Energy Conservation Code – part of the building regulations followed by most communities across the U.S. – would raise the energy efficiency standards in new homes and commercial buildings by about 15 percent.

This marks the latest attempt to decrease the carbon footprint for commercial structures, which currently account for roughly 40 percent of the total energy consumption for the country. This effort has been spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Energy, as the agency created an innovation Hub to try and initiate a change within the real estate industry.

The Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub), headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is comprised of the brightest minds from four sectors: the government, academia, energy development and private companies. Together, with assistance and capital from the DOE, they are looking to transform the commercial real estate market.

The new codes proposed by the ICC would also likely help to increase the number of building owners and companies that insisted upon the adoption of more efficient technologies.

According to the Express, the new codes aren't perfect, but they will provide incentive for the adoption of certain technologies as part of the building process. Some industry professionals have noted that the codes need to start targeting different components of a building, however.

"We can build more energy plants," Gerald Kettler, managing principal and chief executive for Facility Performances associates told the newspaper. "I'm not sure how we're going to build more water."

Richard Kauffman, senior advisor to the secretary of energy, noted that the only obstacle standing in the way of the adoption of more energy efficient buildings is the readiness of capital for new projects.

"Financing is a key constraint here as well, since lenders are not certain that investments in efficiency will either work as advertised, whether the borrower will save or spend the savings, or whether the building will be worth more after the investments have been made," said the expert in an editorial piece.