In an effort to advance the next generation of energy management, CoreNet Global and the Rocky Mountain Institute have released a new framework for corporations, owners, tenants and property managers.
“The adoption of corporate building energy efficiency remains low (and), in many companies, has stagnated,” Craig Van Pelt, CoreNet Global’s director, knowledge community research, told Commercial Property Executive. “As a result, the corporate real estate industry is neglecting a substantial opportunity to increase profits, minimize risks and more effectively contribute to both the local community and society.”
According to the report, entitled Next Generation Energy Management, corporations have made progress in energy management and performance since 2007 when CoreNet Global and RMI first collaborated on this topic. More than two thirds of corporations now have a sustainability agenda and staff as well as energy management plans, and nearly half have dedicated energy managers, a position that was only beginning to emerge in 2007.
The report identifies nine key factors that enable and necessitate next-generation energy management. Those elements consist of reductions in energy costs, such as natural gas; sustainability measurement; stakeholder demand for sustainability; availability of capital; risk mitigation and management; workplace transformation; smart building technology; healthy buildings and electricity grid evolution.
“An important aspect of setting up a proper plan is to ensure that there is a commitment from an organization, a developer or a building owner to recognize the importance of increasing energy efficiency and align this commitment with the strategy of the business,” Van Pelt said. “If these values are not aligned, there is less likelihood that a plan can be effectively executed, regardless of how well a plan is designed.”
In December of 2012, the CoreNet Global Issues Advocacy Focus group published a white paper encouraging responsible energy policies and practices to reduce corporate carbon footprints as a top measure of long-term success. In that document, the Advocacy Focus group argued in favor of net-zero buildings, not only because of the social and environmental benefits, but also because of the significant financial benefits such investments can bring.
“A net-zero building is essentially a building with net-zero energy consumption,” Van Pelt said. “In other words, the total energy used by a building on an annual basis is approximately equal to the amount of renewable energy (e.g., solar, wind, etc.) created by the site.”
Commercial properties can prepare for the next generation of energy management by establishing a baseline for energy use and understanding how a property is benchmarked against similar buildings.
According to Van Pelt, understanding how a building is utilizing energy, and identifying potential improvements, will help owners, operators and tenants identify and prioritize issues that need to be addressed.
“An important element for success will be the ability to shift perceptions away from the thinking that investing in sustainable measures for commercial buildings is not only the ‘cost of doing business,’” he said. “Energy efficiency and renewable investments provide an opportunity to reduce energy costs, offer an effective way to deploy capital through a variety of debt financing programs, and ultimately a new avenue to improve the company’s financial position.”