ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 115 - 07/08/2011

DOE, Foundation to Focus on Energy Performance and Building Appraisals

As part of the Obama administration’s efforts to improve commercial building efficiency 20 percent by 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has formed a partnership with The Appraisal Foundation that is expected to help expand access to energy-efficiency and building-performance information for commercial buildings and help American businesses reduce energy waste. The partnership is one of the steps DOE is taking as part of the part of President Obama’s Better Buildings Initiative (GBI, Feb. 15, 2011, “President’s New Better Buildings Initiative Wins Trade Groups’ Praise”).  


Under the new partnership, DOE and The Appraisal Foundation will aim to ensure that appraisers nationwide have the information, practical guidelines, and professional resources they need to evaluate energy performance when conducting commercial building appraisals. This effort is expected to help enable investors, building owners and operators, and others to assess, accurately, the value of energy efficiency as part of a building’s overall appraisal, according to the department.


“Providing appraisers with the tools to accurately include energy performance when they place a value on a commercial building will help American businesses and institutions save money by saving energy,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. “If better-performing buildings have a higher value, it will help enable the upfront investment for energy-efficiency upgrades.”


“This type of public-private partnership is critical to help advance energy efficiency, save companies money, and create good paying jobs,” said Penny Pritzker, chief executive officer of Pritzker Realty Group and a member of the presidential Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. “The greener we can make commercial properties, the more we increase their value and the more people we put to work.”


Last year, commercial buildings accounted for about 20 percent of all energy used in the U.S., the department stated.  “Through improvements in insulation, lighting, and the use of daylight, windows, and heating and cooling systems, America’s commercial buildings can be more energy efficient, which saves money for businesses and helps to make them more competitive.


“Today’s partnership will help to make sure that the market is equipped with the information it needs to make sure that the utility bill savings that come with building efficiency improvements are appropriately factored into the building’s overall value. In conjunction with The Appraisal Foundation, we will develop information and educational tools relating to valuing green buildings based on the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice -- the generally accepted standards for U.S. building appraisers. These tools and resources will help appraisers appropriately include energy performance and sustainability in valuations.


Under the partnership, DOE will develop educational materials and create a database to provide appraisers with energy-savings data, federal green building programs and policies, and additional information on energy performance.


The goal of the Better Buildings Initiative is to make commercial buildings more efficient, saving American businesses about $40 billion annually. The initiative is expected to accelerate private-sector investment in energy efficiency to create jobs and build a stronger economy.


Initial Partners for Better Buildings Challenge Revealed

In other news, Chu announced the 14 initial partners committing to the Better Buildings Challenge, which is part of the Better Buildings Initiative. Earlier this month, the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness recommended that Obama prioritize the Better Buildings Initiative as an important way to support job creation. The initial partners in the challenge include private-sector companies, financial institutions, and local governments.


"The Better Buildings Challenge will make American businesses more competitive in the global economy by saving them billions in energy costs - savings they can spend on growing, expanding and hiring new workers," said Laura Tyson, member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and professor of Global Management at UC Berkeley. “It will help put construction workers and contractors back to work and it will increase the production of energy-efficient products at U.S. manufacturing facilities. The first round of partners committing to the Better Buildings Challenge are taking an important step to support job creation across the country.”


The initial partners will work with DOE in the coming months to further develop the details of the challenge in advance of another round of partnership announcements in the fall. Recent commitments include a pledge by Lend Lease to retrofit 40,000 homes for military families and by Transwestern to upgrade energy efficiency in 78 million square feet of commercial real estate.


Other entities announcing commitments include USAA Real Estate Co. and the cities of Los Angeles, Seattle, and Atlanta. They will provide data on their energy savings and share their efficiency strategies, which are expected to serve as models to save money by saving energy. Additionally, several financial organizations, including Citi, have agreed to support the challenge by helping to provide financing for energy efficiency projects.



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