LEED-certified existing buildings are outpacing their newly built counterparts, according to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). As of December 2011, total sq. ft. of LEED-certified existing buildings surpassed LEED-certified new construction by 15 million sq. ft. on a cumulative basis.

Historically, the majority stock of LEED-certified green projects has been new construction projects, both in volume and square footage. However, in 2009, projects certified under the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operation & Maintenance program surpassed those certified under its new construction counterpart on an annual basis, a trend that continued in 2010 and 2011.

Projects worldwide are proving that green building doesn't have to mean new construction. The renovated and LEED-certified Empire State Building predicts it will cut energy consumption by 38 percent, saving $4.4 million annually, and recouping the costs of implementation in three years.

The world’s second tallest building, Taipei 101, certified LEED Platinum, was redesigned to use 30 percent less energy, reducing annual utility costs by $700,000 a year. San Francisco's 39-year-old Transamerica Pyramid has earned LEED Platinum as an existing building, with an onsite co-generation plant saving $700,000 annually in energy costs.

Empire State Building Wins EPA Green Power Leadership Award

The Empire State Building has received a 2011 Green Power Leadership Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for significant wind power purchases. The Empire State Building, believed to be New York City’s largest commercial purchaser of 100 percent renewable energy, has contracted for two years to purchase 55 million kilowatt-hours of wind power annually from Green Mountain Energy Company, a leading retail provider of clean energy and carbon offset solutions. The building’s purchase is enough green power to meet 100 percent of its electricity use.

Liberty Property Trust’s National Portfolio Recertifies as Energy Star

Liberty Property Trust has added Energy Star certification at a sixth building in Maryland region, the 71st in its national portfolio. The office building is located at 9770 Patuxent Woods Drive in Columbia, Md.

Five Liberty buildings in Maryland were Energy Star-recertified earlier this year, including North Park Business Community and Longview Business Center, both in Hunt Valley, and Columbia Crossing and Patuxent Woods Business Center in Columbia. Nationally, Liberty has received Energy Star certification for 71 buildings in 14 regions, from Philadelphia to Florida, Illinois to Arizona.

ThinkEco Names New CEO

ThinkEco, a New York-based company that develops energy-efficiency hardware and software, has named Erik Katz as CEO. Katz was most recently CEO of Blue Source, a carbon-credit project developer in the U.S. and Canada.

Katz will lead ThinkEco’s expanding role in energy-efficiency solutions among large enterprises, utilities, OEMs, building automation system integrators and smart grid developers. He will also oversee the firm’s growth in the commercial and consumer markets, including its flagship modlet technology, an easy-to-use, affordable energy-efficiency product for homes and offices.

New Eco-Friendly Concrete Substitute Introduced

Solidia Technologies is creating building materials through a new carbon-negative technology that recycles landfill and construction waste materials into building materials, and possibly may even replace concrete.

Using a process known as Low Temperature Solidification (LTS) developed at Rutgers University, the New Jersey-based company is creating materials for floor and wall tiles, countertops and building facades by combining stone, plastic and other waste with natural minerals and carbon dioxide under a low-temperature and low-pressure setting.

The impact and abrasion resistance of LTS materials exceed those of concrete and natural stone, Solidia claims. Because LTS material can be generated quickly and in virtually any form factor, it could someday provide building blocks for skyscrapers, houses, bridges and even highway medians.

Solidia plans to license the technology to construction companies and is working with international equipment maker SIMEC to develop production lines to produce LTS building materials for the global market.

Ackerman & Co. Completes LEED-Gold Centrum at Glenridge

Ackerman & Co., an Atlanta-based full-service commercial real estate firm, recently achieved LEED-Gold certification for Existing Buildings for Centrum at Glenridge in Atlanta. The 183,000-sq.-ft., eight-story, class-A office building is among the first to receive LEED Gold certification in the Glenridge submarket and the sixth in Atlanta’s Central Perimeter business district.

Centrum, a joint venture of Ackerman and The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., has earned an Energy Star rating of 82, bringing the property to the top 16 percent of buildings nationwide in energy efficiency. The building is also “Net-Zero by Offsets,” meaning that 100 percent of the energy consumed at Centrum is offset by wind power purchased off-site.

U.S. Energy Group Launches Energy Management System for Small Buildings

U.S. Energy Group (USE) has launched the USE Controller ECS, a scaled-down version of the company’s flagship energy monitoring and control system for smaller buildings with four to 20 units.

The USE Controller ECS, also called “The Mini,” integrates data from an outdoor sensor and wireless indoor temperatures to cycle the boiler for optimum heating efficiency. The new system integrates with the Fresh Meadows, N.Y.-based USE’s Manager, an online building management system that provides award-winning monitoring capability, visual presentation of building data and an alerting system.

New York City Reports Benchmarking Compliance for First Wave of Buildings

Initial filings for the first wave of New York City buildings have been successfully processed as in compliance with the city’s new benchmarking regulations under Local Law 84. The filings recorded energy usage from 2010, representing the first year that New York City buildings were required to report energy usage to the EPA’s Portfolio Manager.

Local Law 84, which specifies the benchmarking regulations, is part of New York City’s Greener, Greater Buildings Plan, a vision of PlaNYC 2030. The goal is to make the city’s buildings more sustainable and encourage energy-efficiency measures.

The Department of Buildings and the Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability are both involved in the implementation of Local Law 84. New York City has approved U.S. Energy Group’s benchmarking certificates as proof of compliance. U.S. Energy Group developed the certificate system because the city is requiring proof of compliance, but is only issuing violations, not positive signs of compliance.

Tax Credit Financing Backs Minneapolis’ Historic Ford Center Renovation

WNC & Associates Inc., an Irvine, Calif.-based national investor in urban renewal and affordable housing projects, has provided $8.3 million in new markets tax credit (NMTC) financing to United Properties for the acquisition and renovation of the historic Ford Center in Minneapolis. The project will deliver more than 270,000 sq. ft. of LEED-certified office space and create approximately 900 new jobs within a Federally Designated Empowerment Zone.

When complete, the 95-year-old Ford Center, located at 429 N. Fifth Street, will serve as national headquarters for HGA Architects and Olson Advertising, which will occupy a combined 215,000 sq. ft. of office space. The project is located near Target Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins, and a planned expansion of the Minneapolis railway system. The renovation will maintain the exterior of the warehouse/assembly plant, infuse the interior space with a modern, urban energy and incorporate extensive environmentally sustainable design techniques.

RREEF Real Estate Participates in President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge

RREEF Real Estate has announced its participation in the Better Buildings Challenge, part of the Better Buildings Initiative. Launched in February by President Obama and spearheaded by former President Clinton and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, the initiative creates jobs by catalyzing private sector investment in commercial and industrial building energy upgrades. The goal is to make U.S. buildings 20 percent more efficient by 2020, reducing energy costs for U.S. businesses by almost $40 billion.

As part of the Better Buildings Challenge, RREEF Real Estate, the New York City-based real estate investment management business of Deutsche Bank’s Asset Management, is supporting a commitment to cut energy consumption across a 5 million sq. ft. portfolio of U.S. commercial office buildings. Performance will be monitored through the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program.

Downtown Kalamazoo Mixed-Use Project on Brownfield Site Receives $3 Million+ Tax Credit

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has awarded a Michigan Business Tax (MBT) Brownfield Tax Credit for $3.18 million for a new eight-story mixed-use project in downtown Kalamazoo, Mich. The project, called The Exchange, will be built on the site of a surface parking lot at 155 West Michigan Ave. and will include residential, office, commercial and retail space.

Michigan provides MBT credits for projects that redevelop a contaminated, blighted or functionally obsolete property. Credits are awarded case-by-case for up to 12.5 percent of eligible investments, or up to 15 percent for Urban Development Area Projects.

The Exchange will change the downtown skyline by turning a prime piece of underdeveloped property into new housing and retail, and providing greater walkability with proximity to nearby parks, libraries, restaurants, and the Kalamazoo Metro Transit System, which serves Western Michigan University and the greater Kalamazoo area. Through Tax Increment Finance Revenue, the Downtown Development Authority will commit up to $143,460 annually for 10 years for other public improvement components.