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September 5, 2008

SB NOW Preps for Q1 Green Standards Launch

The business practices of the downtown DC BID are getting a green makeover by the Sustainable Business Network of Washington, or SB NOW. Helping out is the locally based sustainability-consulting firm Eco-Coach.  The BID is the first organization to participate in the duo’s Eco-Assessment and Green Business Certification Program.  Phase one of the pilot program is all but complete, with Downtown BID on track to be successfully certified, according to Pamela Skarda, executive director of SB NOW.

The program’s point, she explains, “is to create a green certification program for businesses, in any category, from retail to wholesale to general office, that wish to have their business practices acknowledged as eco-friendly – without the taint of  ‘green-washing.’” It will be similar to the USGBC’s LEED certification program, with some overlap in the standards as SB NOW looks at the energy systems in their certification process. A large consortium of environmental, educational, and business groups helped develop the standards for the Eco-Assessment and Green Business Certification Program. Heavy-hitters include the EPA, Energy Star, Calvert Group, Clean Currents, the Montgomery County and District governments, the Sierra Club, and The George Washington University.

Starting in October eight other businesses will begin the certification process as part of the pilot project’s second phase. Those results are expected at the end of January 2009. In Q1 2009 the general program will launch, aided by Downtown DC BID’s promotion of it to its 8,000 or so stakeholders.

SB NOW’s hand in helping DC’s business community shouldn’t come as a surprise—they have been a go-to resource for companies looking for information on sustainable business practices since 2005. “We started as an organization for green entrepreneurs but the second tier of our mission has been to help other businesses become green,” explains Skarda. She adds that DC’s real estate community has been gravitating towards the association as SB NOW’s focus on property management intensifies.


The Air Conditioning Argument

The clock is ticking on older buildings if they want to retain their value. A new report by Deloitte consultant Charles Lockwood gives antiquated buildings three years to go green before their worth goes grim. “We saw this before when air conditioning was first introduced but not widely deployed,” Lockwood says. “It didn't take long for tenants to insist on being in buildings that were air conditioned.” This argument has been used before, but Deloitte and Lockwood are backing it up with some stats. The cost of a green retrofit is one number that is quickly dropping. A survey of companies that had gone through this process paid a premium of less than10 percent, a cost they are likely to recoup in lower operating costs and higher building value. Lockwood also points to CoStar’s study that found that LEED-certified buildings command a rent premium of $11.24 SF and a 3.8 percent occupancy rate. Read the entire report—juicy stats and all—here.



CBRE’s 65,000 SF of new office space in the Victor Building (750 9thSt.) is receiving LEED Gold CI certification, the eighth or so such designation in the DC area by USGBC. The office is fully wind-powered by EnerNOC/Native Energy and it also has a separate meter to make sure it reaps its savings. Come December, CBRE will assess how its investment pays off, says Sally Wilson, senior vice president and global director of Environmental Strategy. Besides the hard savings, it will be looking at soft metrics like employee absenteeism and turnover. So if less people show up at work, blame it on the wind.

Atlantic Corporate Park (Loudoun County’s first Gold LEED office building developed on spec) is delivering and open for leasing. A 220,000 SF, two-tower office complex on the corner of Atlantic Boulevard and Woodland Road in Dulles hasn’t attracted any signed tenants yet, but demand is expected to be strong for the space, JLL’s Steve Perkins says. Atlantic Park is owned by DBRREEF Dulles Town Crossing LLC and co-developed with H Street Ventures and JF McKinney & Associates. The architect is Donnally Vujcic Associates. Matt Gallagher is working with Perkins to lease the property.


Green Calendar

Sept. 15-16:  The International Council of Shopping Centers’ inaugural green conference and trade exposition in Dallas.  ICSC RetailGreen: A Conference and Trade Exposition on Sustainability, Energy, & Environmental Design’s complete schedule can be found at http://www.icsc.org/srch/mt/descs/2008RGC/2008RGC.pdf.



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