Repeat after me…Sustainable Retrofits : #BIM #AIA #LEED


Within the last week I have been called, e-mailed and gone out to discuss sustainable retrofits.  The logic for it seems unassailable and I included some quick stats at the bottom of the posting.  However, as with the rise of virtual construction this is starting to make more sense to most that this is a real economic opportunity. What’s the cause, not sure if it’s the natural progression as companies look for opportunities in this environment, a truck load of AARA and TARP funds have hit,  the Clinton Climate Initiative is creating traction, or a lot of hemp wearing hippies have hit the boardroom,  however I believe the first penguins have slid down the ice and the rest of the waddle / rookery / herd is starting to follow.

Additionally, more hard data points are becoming available to assist. The Empire State Building has started a massive $500 million renovation and hopes to reduce its energy cost up to 38% annually or $4.4 Million.  ‘Wait, you say’ Even I know what looks like to be a 100 year payback seems insane, why spend the money.’ If you look more closely and as they point out at the website that additional improvements on already planned upgrades cost $13.2 million, so $13.2 million yields the saving and payback in less than 4 years.   The Chicago Mercantile Mart and its 4.2 million SF of showrooms, offices and and tradeshow space earned LEED -EB (Existing Building) Silver.  While a video of  Kong climbing the Empire State could be more compelling I included the promotional video as possibly more informing.

Inside the video at about 2:05 they talk about energy modeling.  I wish they included what they used to model it, but if we start talking about scenario analysis and ROI we start talking about BIM again, and various companion products like EcoTect and IES.  One of the bigger points made is that the time to do these things is by piggybacking on top of already planned improvements.  But from low flush toilets, to new digital controls, reglazing windows, to chiller retrofits new ROI models are inviting and this strategy/offering has to be, absolutely, be in your quiver.

Some data points I found while researching this post.

Excerpted comments from President Obama speaking at the Brookings Institute are as follows:

Speaking about AARA funds the President said “is put Americans back to work doing the work America needs done, doubling our capacity in renewable energy’

‘Clean energy projects will all be ramping up in the months ahead’

‘I’m calling on Congress to consider a new program to provide incentives for consumers who retrofit their homes to become more energy efficient, which we know creates jobs, saves money for families, and reduces the pollution that threatens our environment. And I’m proposing that we expand select Recovery Act initiatives to promote energy efficiency and clean energy jobs which have proven particularly popular and effective.’  Full Transcript Available Here

Buildings and Climate Change – Quick Stats:

  • Buildings Account for 38% of CO2 emissions in the United States —more than either the transportation or industrial sectors
  • Over the next 25 years, CO2 emissions from buildings are projected to grow faster than any other sector, with emissions from commercial buildings projected to grow the fastest—1.8% a year through 2030
  • Buildings consume 70% of the electricity load in the U.S.
  • Buildings have a lifespan of 50-100 years during which they continually consume energy and produce CO2 emissions.  If half of new commercial buildings were built to use 50% less energy, it would save over 6 million metric tons of CO2 annually for the life of the buildings—the equivalent of taking more than 1 million cars off the road every year
  • The U.S. population and economy are projected to grow significantly over the coming decades, increasing the need for new buildings – to meet this demand, approximately 15 million new buildings are projected to be constructed by 2015
  • Building green is one of the best strategies for meeting the challenge of climate change because the technology to make substantial reductions in energy and CO2 emissions already exists.  The average LEED® certified building uses 32% less electricity and saves 350 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually
  • Modest investments in energy-saving and other climate-friendly technologies can yield buildings and communities that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthier places to live and work, and that contribute to reducing CO2 emissions
Source:  USGBC (US Green Building Council) and ASHRAE ( American Society  of Heating, Refrigerating
and Air Conditioning Engineers), the AIA,  IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America)
and the DOE.
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