It’s been a wet winter in Seattle. Dry yourself off with some green building, energy efficiency, and real estate development news. And trust that Spring is near.
GET PRODUCTIVE WITH DATA
One of our favorite green building threads is the intersection of IT and building operations, where data helps us to make decisions and optimize systems.
This story profiles stellar work to save energy at the Washington Athletic Club and Microsoft. While not at this scale, we’re facing similar opportunities and issues on a few of our projects, and enjoying the problem solving adventure.
SWAP IDEAS, GAIN INSIGHTS
While we’re talking building operations, check out this fantastic video series that our friends at C+C produced for the U.S. Department of Energy. This is reality TV that actually matters. High marks to the teams from Whole Foods and Hilton.
Energy efficient affordable housing. If you need more convincing than those four words, consider that low-income households typically spend more than 15% of their income on energy, which is often double the average. And Emerald Cities Seattle is tackling this issue head on with an innovative program called RENEW, which provides time, expertise, pre-development funds, and project financing to affordable housing operators. In other words, RENEW makes energy efficient affordable housing happen … which rocks. Read more
Happy fall, friends and colleagues. While you’re prepping for Thanksgiving and waiting for snow, catch up on a few stories we’ve been tracking in green buildings, energy efficiency, and real estate development.
VALUES & VISION
We helped host the Seattle 2030 District Vision Awards earlier this month, and many of you were there to enjoy a special evening. While the awards showcased vision, I was most inspired by words from someone without it. State Senator Cyrus Habib, an Iranian-American Democrat representing Bellevue, lost his sight at age 8. He told us about how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) changed his life and how he came to appreciate the importance of walkable cities. But he also noted that while the ADA seems universally appreciated now, it initially faced stiff opposition on social and economic grounds. With this history, he encouraged us to stay the course with sustainability efforts in order to support our shared values.
Our sustainable real estate award winners certainly exemplify the values and goals of the Seattle 2030 District:
Meanwhile, way back in October, our friends at NEEC launched the Smart Buildings Center at the newly renovated Pacific Tower in Seattle. Formerly a US Marine Corps hospital and Amazon.com’s original campus, the building is now primarily operated by the Washington Department of Commerce and houses several health care, food, and workforce training organizations. Read more
We took an early spring break from our monthly newsletter, so welcome back to this handcrafted, artisan collection of green building, energy efficiency and real estate development stories.
(Understandable) data is king
I love maps and data visualization. Oh, and building energy metrics are neat too. If you have a similar crush, please enjoy Philadelphia’s snappy building energy data hub, which was developed by Azavea.
Exploring this also led me to check in on results from the other cities with established energy disclosure programs.
New York City has issued three annual reports and boasts a robust data tool of its own.
Washington, DC lists three years (2011-2013) of private building data in Excel files, and public buildings are detailed in this report covering 2009-2012.
Seattle aggregated private building data for 2011-2012, and provides more detail on city buildings for 2012-2013.
San Francisco has published three years of public building data—2011, 2012, and 2013.
Minneapolis published 2012 data for its public buildings.
And Chicago posted its 2014 report.
These and other cities with energy disclosure initiatives are helping the real estate market better understand and improve its energy performance. And nationwide, the Institute for Market Transformation maintains some great resources to help compare various city and state efforts. Read more
Soon after I typed up our vision of the FOD, I landed on an another favorite concept from the real estate world, although this one isn’t mine.
The folks at Fundrise have hit on a long-term frustration of mine—that real estate development is too often saved for those with loads of money, and that, in turn, these people (and corporations) are often not intimately connected to the places they are developing.
Enter crowdfunding. Fundrise jumped on it, and didn’t wait for the federal JOBS Act to be ruled on by the SEC. They made the connection to real estate on their own. Using a rarely used public offering qualified by the Securities and Exchange Commission (technically, Regulation A), Fundrise is removing several middle men and allowing everyday Americans (well, actually Virginians and DC-ians at the moment) to tangibly help revitalize their own neighborhoods. Regulation A permits small offerings to unaccredited investors for under $5 million total. For Fundrise, this means that individuals can directly invest in development projects in their own neighborhood. In theory, this will lead to more appropriate and successful projects because the local community is supporting developments through real ownership.
Check out these more lengthy pieces at Atlantic Cities and VentureBeat.
And speaking of the JOBS Act, the SEC missed its original January deadline for a draft ruleset. Now with a new SEC chair incoming, uncertainty is most certainly the theme.