CB Richard Ellis lauded for green leadership

The U.S. Green Building Council honored commercial real estate services provider CB Richard Ellis Group with its 2008 Leadership Award for Organizational Excellence at an annual awards program last month in Boston.

The USGBC Leadership Awards recognize companies and individuals who demonstrate vision, leadership and commitment to the evolution of green building design and construction. CBRE’s award specifically recognized leadership in environmental corporate responsibility. The Green Building Council made its award presentations on Nov. 20 as part of its Greenbuild International Conference.

“It is an honor to be recognized by USGBC, a premier global authority on environmental issues,” says David Pogue, CBRE’s national director of sustainability. “We take seriously our obligation to improve the quality of life for our employees and for everyone who works at or visits our facilities. This award reiterates the extraordinary efforts our employees and clients have taken to affect change in the way buildings operate.”

As the world’s largest commercial real estate services firm, CBRE wields unsurpassed influence over how real estate is built, sourced, occupied and sold, according to Sally Wilson, the firm’s global director of environmental strategy. “Our responsibility to be a steward of the environment is a key component of our environmental commitment.”

In May 2007, CBRE announced a commitment to become carbon neutral in its own operations by 2010, making it the first commercial real estate services company to announce such a goal. In addition, CBRE is assisting its clients with energy efficiency programs at much of the more than 2 billion sq. ft. of building space it manages around the globe.

California city launches 422 kilowatt solar project

A water treatment plant owned by the City of Willits, Calif., has been fitted with a photovoltaic solar energy system intended to meet the plant’s power needs.

Stellar Energy Solutions developed and installed the project. Stellar is a commercial solar integrator based in Healdsburg, Calif. Comprehensive financier Perpetual Energy Systems, based in Harrison, N.Y., financed the development and installation at no cost to the City of Willits, using conventional financing and equity raised through the federal renewable energy tax credit.

This custom financial program offers of the City of Willits energy at a reduced cost when it purchases electricity generated for the Willits Water Treatment Plant that is generated on-site. “This public-private partnership is a true testament to how a privately-held company and a municipality can work together to reduce a city’s impact on the environment,” says Laurance Friedman, co-chair of Perpetual Energy Systems.

The solar panels generate 422 kilowatts, and are expected to provide as much as 530,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually -- enough power to offset the plant’s current power usage.

The City of Willits began its move towards becoming a sustainable community in 2004 when it partnered with the Willits Economic LocaLization (WELL), a citizen’s organization created to foster a sustainable, local economy based on the principles of sufficiency, responsibility and life-promoting actions. The City and WELL worked with the Renewable Energy Development Institute, a professional services organization specializing in renewable energy project development, to solicit a solar project in Willits.

“We feel it is important to do the most we can to reduce or eliminate our impact on the environment,” says Holly Madrigal, mayor of the city’s 5,000 residents. “Hosting solar energy systems at our water treatment plant not only reduces the city’s energy consumption and costs over the next 25 years, the project reaffirms our commitment to being a green community.”