Global stewardship

With the emergence of new world
economies, global interdependency
and the increased awareness of thoughtful corporate stewardship, firms
worldwide are looking carefully at how corporate growth can best interface with the
demands we place on existing resources. In
the United States, commercial buildings
account for 12 percent of water usage, 30
percent of greenhouse gas emissions, 65
percent of waste output and 70 percent of
electricity consumption.

“It is no coincidence that LEED®
(Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design) certification of new and existing
buildings is gaining momentum in Florida
and throughout the globe,” says CB Richard
Ellis Tampa-based Project Manager Suneeta
Singh. “Even in these early stages, if we look
closely we’ll find out that greener buildings
(those that adopt LEED design practices)
not only benefit from a reduction in operating expenses but, as importantly, also offer a
better work environment that increases
occupant productivity.”

Smart Business asked Singh about the rising interest in LEED.

What is LEED and how is it administered?

The LEED Green Building Rating System
is the nationally accepted benchmark for
the design, construction and operation of
high-performance green buildings. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council
(USGBC), the point-based rating system
assesses in detail: site planning, water management, energy management, building
materials, indoor air quality and innovation
and design process. There are currently
four levels of certification (platinum, gold,
silver and certified) with different criteria
for existing buildings, commercial interiors,
core and shell and new construction. The
system is designed to have a positive
impact on environmental, human and economic health.

What are some of the reasons that LEED certification has caught the attention of the commercial real estate industry?

Given the finite resources on our planet
and the increased demand created by existing and emerging economies, an immediate
and measurable approach to all aspects of
the building environment has become
increasingly important. Green construction
practices are appealing due to the
increased focus on sustainable building
materials, environmentally safe products
and recycling of waste.

Current results are demonstrating that
green buildings achieve an average savings
rate of 30 to 50 percent in energy consumption, 35 percent in carbon emissions, 30 to
40 percent in water usage and 50 to 70 percent in waste costs. The net result to owners and tenants include energy savings,
enhanced occupant productivity, increased
property value and verified performance of
building systems. Improved efficiency of
operations and workplace environment are
true competitive advantages for all.

With that said, should we expect all new
buildings to be LEED certified?

There are undoubtedly compelling reasons for all new projects to seek certification as we have discussed. In addition to the operational advantages that enhance
the workplace environment and bottom-line efficiency, lenders will certainly be
looking to see if projects they are considering to fund are certified. This will help to
preserve the value of the asset, and we
expect it will be an important factor when
investors price the property for future sale.

On a more macro level, we believe there is
an increased importance on corporate
stewardship that will dictate new projects
meet these standards. Without question, we
believe all new public facilities will seek to
adopt LEED design practices.

How can your project management team
assist owners and tenants in achieving LEED
certification of their buildings and interior
construction projects?

As in almost all successful endeavors, it is
a combination of the right people equipped
with the right experience and resources.
CBRE maintains one of the largest networks of professional real estate project
managers in the world. Internally, our company has taken a proactive step by recently
announcing the corporate goal of achieving
a carbon neutral footprint by 2010.
Externally in Florida and throughout the
country, our project management teams are
working with clients to obtain LEED certification not only for new developments but
for existing buildings as well as a host of
ongoing interior construction projects.

While the LEED rating system gives us a
valued and consistent template to work
from, each project also has its own individual needs. The most effective approach is to
engage the project management team as
early on a possible. This ensures we understand the client’s needs and can help lead
them through the process of a sustainable
approach, and helps to ensure our mutual
commitment will bring both near- and long-term value to their projects and their people. Green starts with a conversation.

SUNEETA SINGH is a project manager at CB Richard Ellis in Tampa. Reach her at (813) 383-3729 or [email protected]. For
more information about CBRE’s project management services, contact Dave Kreinest, Florida managing director, at (904) 596-2953 or
[email protected].