Boulder landscaping and smarter buildings
Woodmont Real Estate Services, an independent real estate management company based in Northern California, has accepted the Institute of Real Estate Management's Certified Sustainable Property award for its portfolio of apartment buildings. Obtaining LEED certification is more difficult for buildings from the 1980s and 1990s, and the CSP's six-month certification process and the management, energy, water, purchasing, recycling and health categories “fit the bill,” says Jeff Bosshard, cpm, President of multi-family operations.
IREM certification requires property managers to focus on the health of residents, and that can be as simple as stocking three healthy options in vending machines. Additional Woodmont Actions: Use of Energy Star equipment and low VOC paints; Need for environmentally friendly building materials and cleaning products; Use of green paper products in all leasing offices; Establishment of recycling at each location; Installation of recycled carpets and pads, double pane windows and LED lighting; Permanently remove water features and fountains; and replacing grass with drought tolerant ground covers and boulders. In addition, Woodmont's multi-family business has implemented smart valves in irrigation systems that monitor the climate, weather and soil moisture and adjust the irrigation of some of its properties.
The company actively markets the CSP credential and displays the CSP designation prominently in all leasing offices. Embedding the CSP credentials in marketing materials initiates conversations with prospective tenants, particularly in drought-stricken California. “This has become more important, especially with the younger generation,” says Bosshard, who is responsible for naming Woodmont. Woodmont has certified 36 properties and has 13 in the works. The CSP, a relatively new Proof of Entitlement, initially required a minimum of 50 units for certification, but IREM has lowered that minimum to 25.
Property managers may already have some of the CSP measures in place, says Bosshard, and with additional focus, properties can qualify for certification. “It is valuable to be able to market the ID,” says Bosshard.
"All building certifications are branded with institutional owners who are very conscious of energy efficiency and corporate responsibility," said Scott M. Pritchett, cpm, president of commercial operations at Woodmont Real Estate Services.
Woodmont currently has one LEED-certified office building, and until another lease is available, a second office building will meet the occupancy standard for CSP certification; several other properties are checked for the CSP. Certification is becoming increasingly important in office tenants' checklist, says Pritchett, which he attributes to increased scrutiny of public companies. The question that is at the top of many checklists, he says: “Is the building LEED certified by the Green Building Council?” Pritchett has guided existing buildings through the LEED Basic and LEED Silver certification and describes the process as “definitive accessible".
In a survey in July 2021 among commercial NAR members, 69% said that the promotion of energy efficiency in the offers was very or rather valuable. Fortunately, for those willing to pay the small premium, the range and choice of green products – wall tiles, carpeting, flooring – is the best ever, notes Pritchett. Solar powered covered parking spaces are gaining traction in the California Bay Area. This function addresses suburban office parks that do not have a multi-storey car park but have a high energy requirement. "They offer tenants a nice advantage and the owner can reduce the energy balance of the building." Studies also show that buildings with green features estimate a surcharge compared to conventional properties, so that the low surcharge for materials pays off in advance.
Additionally, "buildings are getting smarter," notes David Eldridge Jr., a Grumman / Butkus Associates associate who has been a Green Globes assessor for a decade. In particular, the pandemic has brought with it a deluge of technologies that focus on monitoring building performance, and especially airflow, to cut costs and provide healthier spaces.
For example, BrainBox AI is a Montreal-based company that developed artificial intelligence technologies to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. The company's autonomous cloud-based Al overlay existing HVAC systems without disrupting tenants. A control box examines a building's use for six to eight weeks to learn and profile, and then optimizes airflow. A building's data is visible on a dashboard and can be monitored, says Sam Ramadori, President of BrainBox AI, and airflow can be adjusted zone by zone for downtime, reduced occupancy and deterioration. The company was founded in 2019 and is present in schools, offices, hotels and retail spaces in around 285 properties in 17 countries. In 2021, BrainBox AI added an online energy saving calculator based on square footage and building type.
According to a case study by BrainBox AI, GWL achieved energy savings of 29 when installing the application in the 300,000-square-foot commercial office tower and 500,000-square-foot apartment building owned by GWL Realty Advisors, based in Toronto. for HVAC devices% or 25% after just a few months.
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There is no one-size-fits-all solution to reducing a building's carbon footprint, but the options – certifications, construction products, technologies and strategies – are robust and the demand is real. If you don't drive the discussions about ESG and energy efficiency, your customers will.