Performance and profit gains with energy benchmarking

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Measuring the efficiency and cost of buildings’ energy use is essential in today’s real estate market. Buildings account for 40 percent of all energy used in the U.S., with an energy price tag of $450 billion annually. By measuring a building’s energy use through the EPA’s internationally recognized ENERGY STAR® program, commercial real estate professionals can save money and reduce energy consumption. Best of all, it’s free and easily accessed online.

ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager gives building owners and managers a baseline understanding of their buildings’ energy use and a benchmark against which to measure performance, according to Zachary Hart of the Institute for Market Transformation. Simply benchmarking energy usage led to reduced energy usage and savings: a 2012 EPA study of 35,000 benchmarked buildings found that they saved an annual average of 2.4 percent in energy costs. Buildings that benchmarked for three years straight saved an average of 7 percent.

In a competitive real estate market, this tool creates a baseline against which buildings can measure their energy usage, both for cost-saving and profit. Tenants are more likely to rent and stay in green buildings. A 2008 study by the CoStar Group found that ENERGY STAR®-labeled buildings rented at $2.40 per square foot more than non-labeled buildings, and that the labeled buildings had a 3.6 percent higher occupancy rate. Energy-efficient buildings are a safer investment for lenders and raise a building’s overall market value.… Read More

Financial and sustainability win — with wind

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JLL provides a renewable energy solution for Intuit’s Global HQ that is set to save $1 million in energy costs.

More than three decades ago, Intuit developed personal finance software to help families balance their budgets. Today Intuit’s mission is to power prosperity around the world. The company serves more than 42 million customers including consumers, small businesses and the self-employed. Within the company’s ecosystem of innovative financial management solutions, its flagship products include QuickBooks® and TurboTax®.

As Intuit has grown, its commitment to using the company’s position to being a good corporate citizen has remained. Being good stewards of the environment is at the core of the company’s values, and sustainability is considered in decision making company-wide.

In 2016, Intuit sought an offsite renewable energy solution to power the company’s global headquarters in Mountain View, California. With less than ten years remaining on the lease of the 188,000-square-foot Mountain View campus, Intuit wanted to obtain three megawatts of 100 percent renewable energy with a direct access contract that ensured a scheduled, known price — but without extending an agreement beyond the terms of their lease.

It was a unique case in the market. Most power purchase agreements are for longer terms — at least 15, and usually 20, years — and for larger energy purchases needed by locations that require considerably more power. Intuit’s request was highly unusual. While the lease term was too long for a typical direct access agreement, it was too short for a typical power purchase agreement. Most developers told them it was an impossible request to fulfill.

Intuit turned to JLL’s Clean Energy team to secure a cost-neutral solution that was all-inclusive from the point of electricity generation to the door of Intuit. … Read More

Psychology of a green workplace

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Floods, wildfires, famines, droughts, species extinction: climate-change-induced disasters are inflicting a heavy toll not only on the environment but also on our mental health, according to a recent report released by the American Psychological Association (APA) entitled “Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance.”

The APA’s report concludes that direct experience with a natural disaster, such as loss of property or personal physical harm, can have immediate and acute consequences on our mental health, including trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression. After Hurricane Katrina, for example, studies found that suicide and suicidal ideation more than doubled in people living in areas affected by the hurricane, and one in six met the criteria for PTSD. Psychologists are calling this type of mental illness ‘ecoanxiety.’

There are also significant long-term effects on mental health. The “unrelenting day-to-day despair” can erode mental health causing chronic psychological consequences. “Gradual, long-term changes in climate can also surface a number of different emotions, including fear, anger, feelings of powerlessness, or exhaustion,” the APA writes. Ecoanxiety can also impact our physical health. Research has shown that chronic stress can lower one’s immune system, causing one to be susceptible to illness and disease.

Although dealing successfully with mental health issues in the workplace is largely dependent on having a positive internal corporate culture, good people management, and wellness programs for employees — there is also a role for corporate real estate professionals. … Read More

Enhancing employee comfort with the flip of a light switch

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For workplaces that value employee productivity and comfort, color-tunable lighting represents a new frontier. With the ability to cool or warm the light temperature of a room, tunable lighting can wake up or calm down employees, adjust to the time of day and adapt for an after-hours event.

Although nearly all modern workplaces house employees who spend the majority of their days at their computers, most office spaces’ lighting systems were designed for tasks involving paper.

As Simone Skopek and Bob Best of JLL’s Energy and Sustainability Services (ESS) explain in their new book “SMART Green + Productive Workplace,” poor lighting can have a tremendous negative impact on employee productivity. Paper-based tasks require more intense lighting than work done on a computer, and the harsh lighting can cause reflection and glare.… Read More

Coffee: the must-have office perk

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If there is one perk that employees really appreciate it’s free, or even subsidized, coffee. The fact that many workers spend $1,000 or more a year on coffee suggests that the motivation to drink coffee must be very strong. Providing employees with access to coffee in the office — either free or for a modest price — is an easy and inexpensive way to make them feel valued and appreciated. A survey by Green Mountain Coffee found that 37 percent of employees would prefer free or subsidized coffee over an annual office party.

Coffee is a simple pleasure that many people depend on, and which improves productivity. A survey of U.S. workers and their coffee habits conducted by Alterra Coffee Roasters found that:

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