The conversation around decarbonization has changed rapidly in the last few years. Measuring and reducing buildings’ and organizations’ carbon footprints is now top of mind for many property professionals.
Nowhere was this more obvious than the trade show floor at the 2023 BOMA International Conference & Expo, where several vendors spoke with BUILDINGS to discuss why people are talking about decarbonization—and more importantly, what actions we can take.
Manage Decarbonization Dollars with CLEAResult
CLEAResult is the largest energy management program implementer in North America, disbursing over $500 million in energy efficiency and energy transition rebates to date, according to Prad Challa, director of strategic partnerships. The company’s ATLAS Carbon tool helps users understand their carbon footprint (including emissions across Scopes 1, 2 and 3), and its engineers offer customized solutions to help organizations kickstart their decarbonization journey.
“It’s about time to start focusing on making that transition and helping decarbonize rather than just focusing on energy efficiency and cost savings,” Challa explained.
Implement Renewable Thermal Energy with Vicinity Energy
Vicinity Energy is a thermal energy systems provider that provides steam, chilled water and hot water to 19 district energy systems in 12 cities. A district energy system produces thermal energy in a central plant and transports it to multiple buildings through underground pipes, which means on-site boilers and chillers are not needed. One of the buildings benefiting from this system is the Kansas City Convention Center—the host facility for the 2023 BOMA International Conference & Expo. The center receives chilled water from its local district.
“Building owners no longer have to install expensive electric boilers and then incur those operating expenses,” said Phil Gaspar, account manager for Vicinity Energy. “If they’re in our district, we’re providing steam that is zero carbon.”
The company is about to introduce eSteam, a carbon-free renewable energy product. Vicinity plans to electrify its operations by installing electric boilers, industrial-scale heat pumps and molten salt thermal battery storage; it will also procure electricity from renewable, carbon-neutral energy sources like wind, solar and hydro. eSteam is expected to make its formal debut next year.
Achieve Zero Emissions with the Global Network for Zero
“My career for the past 15 years has been helping the building sector become sustainable,” explained Mahesh Ramanujam, CEO of the Global Network for Zero. Ramanujam is the former CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council and left in 2021 to focus on decarbonization by founding the Global Network for Zero.
The organization launched its net zero certification platform, in development for two years, just a week ago. Its initial focus is on existing buildings.
“The purpose of this platform is to encourage people to adopt best-in-class practices using an open approach,” Ramanujam said. “We’re not prescribing a metric. We’re telling them, use any strategy you want, but it’s outcome-based.”
Users will start by understanding and measuring their emissions across Scopes 1, 2 and 3, and will then develop a plan to either invest in carbon credits or build a carbon-neutral strategy. The organization provides support throughout the implementation process. When net zero energy is achieved, GNFZ will confirm that the building met its net zero goals, certify it, and then ensure that zero-energy operation continues into the future.
“I’m a firm believer that rather than these moonshots, daily incremental actions are more powerful to drive a larger transformation,” Ramanujam said.