Washington, D.C. – As commercial office buildings are such significant consumers of energy resources, it is crucial that the commercial real estate industry play an active role in promoting and implementing environmentally responsible consumption practices.
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), a statistical agency of the U.S. Department of Energy, commercial buildings in the United States consumed roughly 17 percent of the total energy used inside American borders in 2000. Commercial buildings in the United States total more than 4.6 million in number and comprise more than 67 billion square feet of floor space; they use one-sixth of the world’s fresh water supply, one-quarter of the virgin wood harvested, and two-fifths of materials and energy reserves.
BOMA Intl. is proud to have taken a leadership role in promoting green buildings and sustainable design within the commercial real estate industry. At BOMA’s Annual Convention in June 2000, the association endorsed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Energy Star® Buildings program. The Energy Star Buildings program is a voluntary energy-efficiency initiative for U.S. commercial and industrial buildings that seeks to highlight areas where owners and managers can utilize proven conservation technology to increase building profitability. Through technological improvements such as lighting retrofits, building tune-ups, load reductions, fan system upgrades, and heating and cooling plant improvements, real estate professionals can enhance energy savings while lowering capital expenditures.
In June 2001, BOMA awarded its first Earth Award. The Earth Award was created to honor and recognize the positive environmental operations that building management teams achieve in preserving the internal and external environments of their properties. The program offers building owners and managers a platform to highlight their achievements in providing environmentally friendly work settings. In 2005, the coveted Earth Award will be presented to the winning building at BOMA’s North American Commercial Real Estate Congress and Office Building Show in Anaheim, CA, June 25 through 28.
At the Winter Business Meeting this past January, BOMA’s newly created Environment Committee met to discuss the association’s plans to encourage building owners and managers to take an active role in implementing environmentally responsible consumption practices that are profitable, utilize proven technologies, and lower capital expenditures. At the same meeting, BOMA Canada unveiled its new “BOMA Go Green” program, a national program to recognize building owners who have implemented and demonstrated a commitment to environmental best practices in the operation and management of their buildings.
The BOMA Go Green national environmental recognition program, developed and first launched by BOMA British Columbia last year, is in the final stages of preparation to roll out as a national program by BOMA Canada and will be delivered by local BOMA associations across Canada. It is a self-directed, voluntary program for existing or occupied buildings. For more information on this Web-based program, visit (www.BOMAgogreen.com).
So how do you green your building? Office building management teams can have a positive impact on the environment through a strong commitment to implement government programs; manage hazardous waste and environmental risks; establish emergency response, recycling, water, and energy conservation plans; ensure healthy indoor air quality; implement green purchasing practices; and encourage public transportation and carpooling programs.
The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC’s) new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System® for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) is a good way to learn about sustainable upgrades for your building. BOMA does not endorse any of the LEED programs, but it does encourage building owners and managers to take advantage of the work the USGBC has done on the issue and evaluate technologies that may work for their building and tenants.
BOMA actively encourages building owners and managers to utilize green technologies, where proven, to increase building efficiency and provide a positive return on investment (ROI), but the organization adamantly believes that this must be voluntary. Mandates through the code, legislative, or regulatory process are counter-productive to the effective voluntary efforts already under way in the private sector, as well for the growing support of green practices within the commercial real estate industry. At this point, a number of local governments have adopted the LEED for New Construction (LEED-NC) program for use in public buildings under their jurisdiction. BOMA Intl. is keeping a close eye on legislation and regulation on the state and federal levels to ensure that voluntary participation in green programs is encouraged but not mandated in the private sector.
For more information on these issues, contact BOMA Intl. at (202) 408-2662 or visit (www.boma.org).