The High Performance Buildings and Workplaces conference is taking place in Arlington, Texas at this moment. Scott Ringlein, CEO of the Energy Alliance Group of Michigan, is one of the featured speakers and just finished giving a presentation on how to fund those projects that help buildings become “healthy, smart and sustainable”!
Ringlein’s presentation was titled Overcoming the Domino Effect of Comprehensive Building Upgrades and a case study describing the effect is available in this ARTICLE that introduced the concepts presented in the live event.
Following his presentation, Ringlein shared this report from Texas which gives the reader a “fly on the wall” perspective of what is shaping up to be an interesting event and a very compelling trend in cutting edge buildings:
The vendor area is packed with the newest technologies that help building owners and facility managers create healthy, smart and sustainable buildings. What can now be achieved with the latest technology would have been considered a dream just a short while ago. A significant benefit on display throughout the exhibitor area were technologies related to the cost and consumption of energy:
- Cutting edge building envelope improvements such as insulated doors that open and close in 6 seconds
- Electricity generated onsite with wind and solar units cheaper than energy purchased from the utility company
- LED lighting systems reduce energy use by 50-75;
- Geothermal systems reduce HVAC costs by 70-80%
- Automated controls and sensors that can be linked to the internet of things for dramatically precise and measurable improvements in energy efficiency
- Variable frequency drive compressed air systems that reduce energy costs by 40-50%.
From a financial perspective “smart buildings” result in increased employee productivity and lower health costs. For commercial real estate, they achieve a higher net operating income, increase property value and command a premium sale price. The healthy and energy efficiency components of these buildings are more attractive to tenants who tend to stay longer and are willing to pay a higher rental rate.
But a problem addressed during the conference is the fact that newer technologies can be expensive and most companies use old funding criteria to determine if they’re affordable. Using the traditional “payback period” or “return on investment” metrics stymies many of these high tech energy efficient products from even being considered. This is a significant issue considering half of all the commercial buildings in the U.S. are over 50 years old and often use outdated energy wasting equipment.
Based on the attendance at the financing workshops, participants at the conference were interested in learning how to increase project approval rates and discover new methods for financing technological upgrades. The financing workshops were offered under the general heading Funding High Performance and showcased the various payment options for the technologies that yield highly desired building benefits.
By learning about the new financing options that are now available to fund these cutting edge technologies, the old metrics that blocked projects from advancing can now be bypassed. The High Performance Buildings and Workplaces unveiled an interesting point in time where buildings are being looked at in dramatically different ways than they were viewed in the past.