Top 11 Predictions for 2011

Jan. 21, 2011
Predicting the coming year is a great way to focus efforts and to take a moment to pause on last year’s accomplishments and refocus on the tasks at hand.

1. Credentialing Maintenance: Training
Credentialing maintenance and internal capacity building are critical for organizations with commitments to sustainability. With over half of the fortune 500 taking on BSR-type mandates, the internalization of skills and maintaining a staff that can deliver on the promises of green buildings and sustainable, operations and maintenance is critical. Identify staff and training courses to keep your team on top of the game in 2011.

2. Prepare for the Future
While the majority of new construction or renovation projects can’t get to net-zero energy today, that shouldn’t prevent owners and project teams from anticipating a time when they could and getting the jump on preparing for that now. You can design your projects to accommodate future strategies rather than preclude them. By incorporating structure, chase ways, risers, dual piping, etc., projects can phase in advanced strategies later when budgets, technology, and the market provide the right conditions. We see this initiative gaining significant traction this year as development plans fall into place and we look at long-term objectives.

3. Portfolio Approach
This will be the year of the Portfolio. The opening of the USGBC LEED Volume frameworks has organizations preparing to turn up the volume on their green buildings. With several pilot projects completed successfully and lessons learned in place, additional companies and corporations will be making organizational-wide changes to improve the performance of their entire portfolio.

4. Process Innovation
It’s time for our process and tools to catch up with our technology. The LEED online automation announcement heralds the beginnings of a trend of tools that will deliver real process-related savings to our industry. We worked on one of the first tools for building owners and facility managers focused on implementing a standard sustainability program for their buildings O+M practices. It was among a handful of tools selected to interface with LEED Online submission to automate initial certification or recertification.

5. LEEDing Retail
It’s time to shop ‘till you drop. As the economy emerges this year, the pent up demand for goods will drive significant retail expansion. McGraw Hill states in the 2011 an anticipated 30% growth in retail this year. Perfect timing, the USGBC has finally released LEED for Retail in time for this expanding market. Retailers are responding to CSR demands and customers with green retail construction practices. Retailers working to institutionalize best practices and are competing to lead the sector as well. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, YUM! brands, Aveda, Under Armour, Nike are just a few of the large retail brands that are making real changes in their buildings and sustainable practices.

6. International Expansion
Green Building Councils around the globe are gaining momentum and new ones are forming as we speak. The USGBC is focused on leading international collaboration and working to create common performance metrics that can be used around the globe. We are seeing significant activity in Latin American countries, China, Europe, and the efforts in the Middle East continue to mature and grow. View a case study for the first LEED certified project in Peru.

7. Real Performance
California’s AB1103 legislation set the stage for this year finally bringing actual building performance to the fore. Along with mandatory disclosure, the USGBC’s Minimum Program Requirement to share energy performance information with them will begin to play out with projects certifying under LEED 2009 rating systems. In addition, many companies are using ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager across their building portfolio to drive their capital investment decisions. Ultimately this comes down to measurement and accountability. If real resilient performance is your goal, you need to make sure you have the right services and products in place to gain real building insights and improve your decisions around capital improvements and code/certification compliance.

8. Deep Retrofit
The term deep retrofit refers to a practice that goes well above and beyond the current common practice of performing energy efficiency work. This involves substantially improving the exterior building envelope, installing new or relocating existing windows, as well as a slew of more aggressive improvements to radically improve “brown” building performance. This speaks to the value of building reuse over new development as well as the importance of a strong approach to the rest of our buildings. This term and approach will continue to gain steam and become part of our building owner/facility manager vernacular.

9. District Scale: Living Blocks
Resource allotment and direct collaboration with the private and public stakeholders will continue to provide opportunities for district scale “living blocks.” Taking a page from our European counterparts, block-scale solutions have enjoyed a large amount of attention in 2010. 2011 should represent the year when these practices get put into action in cities like Portland and Denver. The Living City Block and the Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado are working to advance a model that we be implemented throughout the U.S.

10. Mainstream Green
Green building will learn to move away from an elite culture and adopt the language and practices which will deliver a more accessible industry. The mainstreaming of green building is a tough practice given that you are dealing with topics connected to professions like architecture and engineering where acronyms and obscure scientific terms grow like weeds. As it becomes more and more important to provide relevant products and services to the mainstream user, the industry must consider how it names and markets products and services. A bioswale landscape feature does not naturally engage the community it is located in until the public starts to think of it as a beautiful “rain garden” in the neighborhood. Positioning our technology, products, and services in a way that engages the people, business communities and municipalities that they serve will decide who stays in a market that is quickly filling up with competition.

11. Wholly Shift!…More Living Buildings
Recognizing that we need to wholly shift our approach to the design, construction, and operation of building, infrastructure, and landscape projects, the International Living Building Institute’s Living Building Challenge maintains its position as the leading standard for advanced buildings that take a quantum leap from being green to being living buildings. In 2010, the first two Living Buildings were certified, proving that it is possible to achieve the standard here and now. Many other projects are nearing certification around the globe. In 2011, the standard will be translated into many of the world’s major languages, leading to further expansion of its use. LBC continues to become a viable and real framework and represents the future of how we develop and create buildings that are addressing our major environmental imperatives.

Green Building Services’ Predictions for 2011 first appeared at http://blog.greenbuildingservices.com/. The staff at Green Building Services can be reached at [email protected] or 866.743.4277.

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