Q: Houston-based Hines has been named ENERGYSTAR Partner for the third year in a row. Why has energy-efficient design been so important to the company?
A: Jeffrey Hines, president, Hines Interests LLC, Houston: Today, our focus is more on the guts of the building. Not that we don’t still like great architecture, but in terms of where we’re trying to be cutting edge, [we are] more internally focused on building systems, the amount of natural light that comes into a space, whether we use raised flooring, and whether we allow individual people at workstations to be able to control their own environment. It certainly is these types of things that affect energy cost.
We’ve seen studies where the efficiency or the productivity of people can be greatly increased by a greater percentage of fresh air and more natural light. The systems used to achieve that do cost a little bit more on the front end, but what we are trying to communicate to the brokerage community and the tenant community is that extra cost is peanuts compared to the extra work output that comes from an office with good fundamentals. A one-percent change in productivity dwarfs any other rent aspects or cost aspects. That’s an area that we are putting a whole lot of study in to and trying to be pretty innovative in what we do.
Stephen Butterworth, regional energy manager, National Park Service, Seattle, represents energy management and water conservation for the operation, design, and renovation of the national park facilities. He is responsible for the energy management, water conservation, and fuel consumption of park vehicles for 64 national parks. No small feat in a park such as Death Valley, the largest national park in the continental United States, where facilities can be 100 miles apart.
“I do three things. I focus on technologies, I focus on facilities, and I focus on people, because it is getting people to understand they have the power to make choices, better choices, greener choices. That is where we will make the longest-lasting improvements on the programs. You can install all types of technologies, but if people still leave lights burning 24 hours a day, all you have done is cut down your waste,” says Butterworth.
For example, at Yosemite National Park, the park service educated its staff on ways to cut energy consumption in addition to installing energy-efficient systems on-site. “The system became a springboard for better employee awareness,” says Butterworth.
An ardent advocate of sustainability, he is a member of the Federal Network for Sustainability (www.federalsustainability.org), based in Washington, D.C., a collection of federal agencies from Alaska to Hawaii that share resources to promote sustainable opportunities, training, design, and operations. “Instead of every agency trying to reinvent the wheel, we can share and promote together,” says Butterworth.
Butterworth likens his job to running a small city. Adds Butterworth, “Your world is drawn around you with a park boundary, but you realize if you are really into sustainable practices, there are not boundaries. We are part of the larger world.”