Skanska resigned as a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on July 9 to protest the organization’s backing of a chemical industry-led initiative to effectively ban the future use of LEED for government buildings. The initiative, linked to the lobbying efforts related to the Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill (S. 761), could potentially halt energy-efficient and environmentally responsible construction.

“Sustainability is one of Skanska’s core values,” Skanska President and CEO Michael F. McMalley wrote in his blog on July 9. “And we will not be a part of an organization that supports the American High-Performance Building Coalition, which harbors the American Chemistry Council and opposes the implementation of a new, stronger LEED certification program (LEEDv4). LEEDv4 encourages transparency in reporting the chemical composition of building materials, something we at Skanska think is essential for anyone wanting to build responsibly.”

Skanska supports the LEED program as being “the most recognized and widely used green building program globally,” McMalley wrote. “It is maintained and implemented by the independent U.S. Green Building Council through a public and transparent comment and balloting process engaging a diverse group of nearly 13,000 members, who voted last week in favor of LEEDv4.”

According to McMalley, Skanska has asked the Chamber of Commerce to reconsider its support of the chemical lobby, “whose anti-LEED stance would significantly undermine the LEED program, impact more than 196,000 LEED Accredited Professionals and “cripple the progress of environmentally responsible construction across the country.”

McMalley’s July 9th blog posting concludes: “The Chamber is on the wrong side of this issue, and its support of the AHPBC is misplaced as well as misguided. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was created to advocate for pro-business policies that create jobs and support our economy. The numbers prove that LEED and green building do just that. Because a few companies don’t like the current LEED program, they want to involve the government and create an entirely new system for government buildings. This is exactly the kind of redundancy and bureaucracy that we pay the Chamber to fight.”

Power REIT Announces Closing of Second Solar Transaction

Power REIT, a real estate investment trust focused on the acquisition of real estate related to infrastructure assets, with a core focus on renewable energy assets, closed on the previously announced acquisition of approximately 100 acres of land that supports over 20MW of utility-scale solar projects located near Fresno, Calif., for approximately $1.6 million. The solar projects benefit from long-term power purchase agreements with either Southern California Edison or Pacific Gas & Electric.

The acquired land is leased pursuant to 25-year lease agreements with total lease payments of $157,500 per annum commencing upon achieving commercial operation of the solar projects.

The solar projects are currently in construction and are expected to commence operation in early 2014. The transaction was structured to provide for monthly interim lease payments commencing October 1, 2013 until the projects achieve commercial operation. The leases provide two extension options to the lessee at fair market rental rates that, if exercised, would take the leases through 2048.

The transaction was financed by acquisition bridge financing provided by Hudson Bay Partners, LP, an affiliate of Power REIT Chairman and CEO David Lesser. Hudson Bay intends to refinance the bridge financing with permanent debt and equity financing. As previously announced, the company recently refinanced a previous acquisition bridge financing from Hudson Bay related to its 2012 acquisition of a solar power property in Massachusetts with long term debt from a regional bank.

"We expect to generate equity yields in the mid to high-teens upon securing permanent financing for this new acquisition. We project the transaction will be accretive to earnings beginning in 2014,” Lesser said in a statement. “This acquisition advances a number of our business objectives, including demonstrating our ability to invest in late-stage development and in-construction transactions and establishing a presence for us in California, the most active solar market in the U.S."

Chambers Street’s 1400 Atwater Drive in Malvern, Pa. Earns LEED Silver Certification

Chambers Street Properties announced that 1400 Atwater Drive, a two-building, five-story office property in the Philadelphia suburb of Malvern, Pa., has earned LEED  Silver certification.

The property is situated on a 15-acre parcel that overlooks the 60-acre Atwater Lake. The buildings were developed as part of an adaptive reuse of a former quarry site and were designed to maximize views of the lake. The development is located within Atwater Corporate Center located directly off I-76 (Pennsylvania Turnpike) at Highway 29.

Some of the highlights of the sustainability program that resulted in LEED certification at 1400 Atwater Drive include: the design and use of recycled materials in construction and diversion of construction waste; access to alternative transportation, including a shuttle to nearby train station, and facilities for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles; adoption of recycling programs and use of low emitting materials throughout the buildings.

In addition to these LEED certified features, 1400 Atwater Drive uses an innovative geothermal loop system immersed in the nearby lake to decrease energy cost and provide more efficient cooling via the buildings’ HVAC facilities. This feature also reduces the buildings’ overall carbon footprint.

IKEA Expands EV Charging Stations Usage Beyond Western U.S.

IKEA has extended its partnership with ECOtality Inc., a clean electric transportation and storage technologies firm, with plans to add 24 Blink electric vehicle charging stations across eight more locations in the United States.

The newly-designated sites include seven stores in Illinois, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Texas, as well as the U.S. corporate office. Installation, which is expected to be completed by the end of this summer, will bring the total number of Blink charging stations at IKEA locations to 55. (Two years ago, IKEA installed a combined 31 units at nine Western U.S. stores in Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington.)

The eight locations now scheduled to install EV charging stations are stores in: Atlanta, Ga.; Bolingbrook, Ill.; Conshohocken, Pa.; Frisco, TX; Houston, Texas; Philadelphia and Schaumburg, Ill. Additionally, the IKEA U.S. corporate office in Conshohocken also will have units available.

IKEA, drawing from its Swedish heritage and respect of nature, believes it can be a good business while doing good business and aims to minimize impacts on the environment. Globally, IKEA evaluates locations regularly for conservation opportunities, integrates innovative materials into product design, works to maintain sustainable resources, and flat-packs goods for efficient distribution. Specific U.S. sustainable efforts include: recycling waste material; incorporating environmental measures into the actual buildings with energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems, recycled construction materials, skylights in warehouse areas, and water-conserving restrooms; and operationally, eliminating plastic bags from the checkout process, phasing-out the sale of incandescent light bulbs, facilitating recycling of customers’ compact fluorescent bulbs, and by 2016 selling and using only L.E.D. bulbs. IKEA also has installed solar panels atop nearly 90 percent of its US locations.

Carbon Energy Solutions Selects eSight to Reduce Clients’ Carbon Footprint

eSight Energy, a Canadian energy services company, has been selected through its distributor, Yorkland Controls, by Carbon Energy Solutions Ltd. as an energy management software offering. Using eSight to manage energy consumption data for clients, Carbon Energy Solutions will help customers reduce overall energy, operational costs and pinpoint areas where energy waste can be eliminated.

eSight is scalable and modular, so Carbon Energy Solutions was able to select the modules that perfectly fit its energy management requirements and have the ability to grow the system as needed with the addition of new clients. Carbon Energy Solutions can customize the look of eSight to fit within its corporate branding guidelines, which will help the firm expand its business services and assist other organizations in reducing its carbon footprint.

Los Angeles Flips Switch for Clean LA Solar Program

This year, Los Angeles created the largest rooftop solar incentive in the country, the CLEAN Los Angeles Feed-in-Tariff Program. The first rooftop solar installation was recently completed, and on Thursday, June 27, the building owners and project developers, alongside Mayor Antonio Ramón Villaraigosa, flipped the switch at the official launch of the CLEAN LA Solar Program.

Under the LA FIT program, the Department of Water and Power will buy back energy from investors who build solar projects on their rooftops. Solar Provider Group was responsible for building the first project and is one of many companies that have signed contracts with the DWP to provide green energy to Los Angeles.

Empire State Building’s Energy Efficiency Saves Millions, Establishes New National Model

The Empire State Building's innovative energy-efficiency program has exceeded guaranteed energy savings for the second year in a row, saving $2.3 million and providing a new model for building retrofits that is now being rolled out nationwide.

In 2009, the Empire State Building, President Bill Clinton and Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a comprehensive retrofit at the landmark property to reduce costs, increase real estate value and protect the environment. In 2011, the Empire State Building beat its year-one energy-efficiency guarantee by a remarkable 5 percent, saving $2.4 million. In the program’s second year, the iconic property surpassed its energy-efficiency guarantee by nearly 4 percent.

Malkin and the Clinton Climate Initiative Cities program, an aligned partner of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, assembled a coalition of leading organizations focused on energy efficiency and sustainability. The team, comprised of the Empire State Building, Johnson Controls, Jones Lang LaSalle and Rocky Mountain Institute, developed the energy-efficiency program that has been implemented at the Empire State Building.

The core base building energy-efficiency retrofit at the Empire State Building is complete, with the balance of the projects to be finished as new tenants build out high-performance workspaces. Once all tenant spaces are upgraded, the building will save $4.4 million a year, at least a 38 percent reduction of energy use that will cut carbon emissions by 105,000 metric tons during the next 15 years.

Over the past two years, the energy retrofit model has been replicated throughout the United States. Johnson Controls and Jones Lang LaSalle jointly implemented the program at all 13 properties in Malkin's New York metropolitan-area commercial portfolio, as well as at One Worldwide Plaza in New York City. Johnson Controls replicated the model at 44 commercial buildings in the U.S., including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Port of San Francisco's historic property at Pier 1, the corporate headquarters of Prologis Inc. Jones Lang LaSalle has also instituted the model at 25 other properties across the nation, including the Moscone Center in San Francisco and Chicago Union Station. In the past year, Rocky Mountain Institute has leveraged earnings from its work on the Empire State Building to collaborate with large portfolio owners AT&T and the Exchange, the Department of Defense's oldest and largest retailer, on an integrated-design approach to dramatically improve energy efficiency across their facilities.

The retrofit has attracted new Empire State Building tenants over the past two years, including LinkedIn, Skanska, LF USA, Coty Inc., the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Shutterstock. These tenants sought space that reflected their sustainability values, provided more comfort for employees and allowed them to monitor and control their energy use.

The retrofit project focused on eight innovative improvement measures addressing core building infrastructure, common spaces and tenant suites. Improvement measures performed by Johnson Controls and Jones Lang LaSalle included the refurbishment of all 6,514 windows, installation of insulation behind all radiators, a chiller plant retrofit, new building management systems controls, new revenue-grade meters serving the entire building and a web-based tenant energy management system.

Aruba to Run Solely On Sustainable Energy By 2020

In recent years, sustainability efforts within the travel industry have progressed from a niche consideration to an industry-wide priority; 96 percent of Condé Nast Traveler readers believe hotels and resorts should be responsible for protecting the environment in which they operate. Now the 70-sq.-mile island of Aruba is on track to becoming the world's first sustainable energy economy and achieving the goal of running on 100 percent sustainable energy by 2020.

Following efforts to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and CO2 emissions, Aruba built the Vader Piet Windmill Farm in winter of 2009. Located on the island's northern coast are 10 wind turbines, each 590.5 ft. tall,  which produce 20 percent of Aruba's electricity. Plans are in progress for a second wind farm, which will double the energy capacity and continue to decrease Aruba's carbon footprint.

The island's constant supply of sun, eastern trade winds and ocean currents allow for research and field-testing of renewable energy technologies. In June 2012, Prime Minister Mike Eman and entrepreneur Richard Branson announced a partnership between Aruba and the Carbon War Room, an initiative that seeks to reduce global carbon emission. The partnership will transition the island to 100 percent renewable energy while eliminating any reliance on fossil fuels and will create a model for other countries to replicate.

Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Held for Manchester Municipal Complex

The City of Manchester, N.H., held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 1 to celebrate the completion of the Manchester Municipal Complex, home to the Manchester Police, Fleet Maintenance and Public Works Departments, designed by Lavallee Brensinger Architects.

The new $43.5 million facility provides a safe, collaborative and energy-efficient work environment for the 500 public service employees to be housed on the 10-acre campus. Previously, the departments of Public Works and the Police Department resided in four separate parts of the city in buildings as much as 50 years old that severely lacked the necessary functional and safety features required to serve their employees and the city. 

Setting the stage for future public service departmental growth, the team completed the facility on time and under budget, which provided the optimal high-tech and state-of-the-art facilities for the growing community departments. Lavallee Brensinger included many improved features in its designs to increase the safety and efficiency in areas where those qualities were integral for success.

For example, the new 72,000-sq.-ft. police station includes a 10-lane firing range, fitness facility and numerous conference/meeting rooms for facilitating inter-departmental collaboration. In addition, the 35,000-sq.-ft. fleet vehicle maintenance building consolidated five separate maintenance facilities scattered throughout the City into a single right-sized and properly equipped facility.

The project consulting team included TF Moran, civil engineers, Foley Buhl Roberts and Associates, structural engineers, RDK, mechanical and electrical engineers, ADG, police planning consultants, and MDG, maintenance facility planning consultants.

Since the early stages of the municipal complex project in 2010, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas has pushed the need for these new facilities even during a time of economic hardships. His support was the foundation of positive relationships between city, architects, and builders that proved to be a valuable component of the project.

The City of Manchester Department of Public Works Administration also recently won this year’s 2013 AIANH Honor Award for excellence in architectural design of the Municipal Complex. Lavallee Brensinger Architects was also honored with the same award for work on the Hillsborough County North Superior Court Renovation.  

M2M Technology Convergence Making Smart Buildings Even Smarter

Smart buildings are leveraging emerging machine-to-machine technologies to become even smarter. According to the latest Global Sustainability Perspective from Jones Lang LaSalle, six advances in smart building technology are enabling a new era in building energy efficiency and carbon footprint reduction, yielding a return on investment for building owners within one to two years.

The top six technologies contributing most to making buildings smarter include:

1. Wireless meters and sensors. Affordable wireless sensors and meters can now be used to monitor automated building equipment and relay data to a centralized remote command center.

2. Internet and cloud computing. The advent of the Internet and decreasing costs of data transmission now makes it financially feasible to transmit data from millions of building data points to the command center. The relatively affordable high-capacity computing power of the cloud allows for cost-efficient data analysis to an extent not possible in previous eras.

3. Open data communication protocols. New software applications solve the “Tower of Babel” problem created in buildings containing multiple automated systems, each operated by proprietary controls. Today, such protocols as ASHRAE’s open-source BACnet, Echelon’s LonTalk and emerging systems support cross-platform data sharing.

4. Powerful analytics software. The best new-generation smart solutions provide numerous dashboards, algorithms and other tools for interpreting building data, identifying anomalous data, pinpointing causes and even addressing some issues remotely.

5. Remote centralized control. Secure Internet technologies can be used to protect data transmissions from hundreds of buildings in a company’s portfolio to the central command center, staffed around-the-clock by facilities professionals.

6. Integrated work-order management. Today’s building management systems can be integrated with a work-order system to streamline communications with on-the-ground facilities staff when human attention is required.

Commercial and public property owners are seeking these returns to boost operational efficiency, achieve energy savings, improve capital planning and reduce their carbon footprints. Companies worldwide invested $5.5 billion in intelligent building systems in 2012, and the number is expected to rise to $18.1 billion by 2017—a 27.1 percent compound annual growth rate, according to IDC Energy Insights. The promise of even more potential for cost savings from operating smart buildings in the context of smart grids is an incentive, as well.

The term "smart building" typically refers to a building that uses computer-controlled equipment, managed via a building automation system, which controls heating, ventilation and air conditioning and lighting, as well as water, fire and life safety equipment throughout a building.

St. Charles Cos. Receives SFI Certification

The St. Charles Companies, a community master planner and new home community developer in Southern Maryland, has received Sustainable Forestry Initiativecertification for its forest management practices. Through this initiative, the 9,100-acre, master-planned community ensures lasting excellence in its stewardship of all St. Charles forested areas through the sustainable harvest of mature, over-mature, diseased and suppressed timber.

“SFI certification is an important endorsement of just one part of our sustainable practices here at St. Charles,” St. Charles Companies CEO Alan Shearer said in a statement. “This is a nationally recognized program that allows us to boost the natural benefits of the forest while allowing for healthy harvesting–ensuring that we are growing more wood than we are harvesting.”

The St. Charles Companies has retained forestry consultant Fred Schatzki, R.F. of American Forest Management Inc. All trees selected for harvesting will be designated by a qualified Maryland Registered Forester. Selection is based on identifying areas that have biologically and financially mature timber and areas that are in poor condition due to prior management activities and that are in need of improvement. Meanwhile, the removal of diseased, invasive and unhealthy trees will improve the overall health and vigor of the forest and will protect and enhance wildlife habitat, protect soil and water resources and enhance the visual appeal of the forest.

Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center Earns Energy Star

The Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center in Dallas, developed and managed by Duke Realty, has earned Energy Star certification. The designation signifies that the building performs in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency and meets strict energy efficiency performance levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“We are proud that our healthcare campus is providing the highest-quality medical care to the community and receiving this type of recognition. Through this achievement, we have demonstrated our commitment to environmental stewardship and to maximizing energy efficiency,” Wes Huff, vice president of real estate for Baylor Health Care System, said in a statement.

The $154 million, 459,717-sq.-ft. Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center, located at 3410 Worth St. on the Baylor University Medical Center campus in Dallas, is the largest cancer care facility in North Texas. The building earned Energy Star distinction after the project team submitted a detailed application outlining a variety of energy efficiency, environmental quality and sustainable strategies required for certification. The strategy highlights include the following:

● The cancer center is 14 percent more energy efficient than what is required by commercial building energy codes.
● The facility uses 30 percent less water than the EPA’s baseline requirements.
● The facility used more than 90 percent green power during construction.
● Twenty-one percent of the building’s core and shell was made of recycled materials.
● The facility features low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emitting materials, including wallpaper, carpet and adhesives for floor tiles. High exposure to VOCs can cause adverse health effects.
● The cancer center incorporates design elements, including underground parking and a white roof, to reduce urban heat island effects such as decreased air and water quality.
● More than 95 percent (14.4 million pounds) of construction waste material was recycled.
● Fifty-one percent of the construction materials were shipped from within 500 miles of the job site, which reduced the impact on the environment from lower vehicle emissions andpromoted the regional economy.

The 10-story Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center is anchored by Baylor Health Care System affiliated providers and Texas Oncology and houses a dedicated radiation oncology wing with four linear accelerators, as well as a diagnostic imaging center with MR, PET and CT scanners. It also includes an outpatient clinic and urgent care center; oncology, breast oncology, multi-disciplinary and transplant clinics; infusion therapy and bone marrow transplant areas; and space for research and clinical trials.

The cancer center, which was completed in March 2011, was a joint venture of Duke Realty and Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. Inc. The general contractor was Dallas-based MEDCO Construction L.L.C. and the architect was theDallas office of Perkins+Will.