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Posts from the ‘News’ Category

SUMMER NEWSLETTER: Changing behavior, buying power, master plans, and value investments

With summer in full swing, we’ve got some light reading lined up. For newcomers to this newsletter, we highlight stories that occupy our place in the market—the intersection of green building, clean energy, and real estate development.

EVERYTHING IS SMART THESE DAYS

And we’re getting in on the fun, as part of a fantastic team helping Puget Sound Energy implement Urban Smart Bellevue. We’re working with commercial building operators and tenants to implement operational and behavior change activities, with a goal to save 16 million kWh over 18 months. As a complement to PSE’s standard equipment-based incentives, this program will put robust energy data and social marketing materials in the hands of the people running and occupying downtown Bellevue’s buildings. It’s all about creating a culture around simple actions that add up to big savings. Here’s the official launch.

MEMBER DISCOUNTS

Another innovative launch from the efficiency world is all about buying power. The 2030 District concept that started in Seattle has now spread to 12 cities across the U.S., representing more than 270 million square feet of building space. And the 2030 Districts Marketplace now provides value to members via discounts on energy efficient products. The Marketplace features LED lighting, HVAC controls, electric vehicle chargers, high performance windows, and advanced metering devices. Applicants must be 2030 District members, but buildings can be outside District boundaries. Let us know if you have projects that might benefit.

THE GREAT AMERICAN UTILITY PUZZLE

Buying power is also a hot topic in renewable energy circles, as organizations ramp up their thirst for clean electrons. In addition to refining financial structures such as a virtual power purchase agreement, companies are banding together to strengthen their position with various electricity market players. REBA is leading the way to defining the best practices. Read more

WINTER NEWSLETTER: Leveraging, accessing and swapping performance data

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.

THIS ROCKS
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

SUMMER NEWSLETTER: Impact investing, efficiency economics and a dance video

We’ve done the math, and it appears this publication needs a new name. So you’re now reading SILLIKER + PARTNERS QUARTERLY. Sounds serious and intellectual, but we keep it light. And for newcomers, welcome to our collection of green building, energy efficiency, and real estate development stories.

This is our summer installment, so it’s short reads … perfect for your time at the beach, in a tent, or aboard a canoe.

65 ways to afford the big city
In case you missed it, Seattle is growing fast and so are rents and home prices. And we don’t have nearly enough rent-restricted units to house a diverse population.

The Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory (HALA) Committee recently delivered a set of recommendations to address Seattle’s housing crisis. HALA’s 65 recommendations are mostly about increased density, but also propose ways to create more rent-restricted units.

Sightline’s Alan Durning (also a committee member) penned an excellent piece on the report. Crosscut also chimes in. And here’s a map to help orient you to the proposed changes.

And fear not, more density is already in motion. Seattle in Progress maps the building development in Seattle, and quickly connects you to permitting proposals. Brilliant work by Ethan Phelps-Goodman.

I’ll take impact for 2 percent
One local affordable housing outfit is not waiting for new City rules. Bellwether Housing recently impressed with their take on impact investing. In short, 22 investors bought into Bellwether’s Seattle Futures Fund and will earn 2 percent on their money. In an age that sees millions invested in products we don’t need, we’re excited to see capital go towards awesome things that we truly need. Read more

Please Finance My Energy Efficiency Project

(this article originally appeared in Conduit on November 13, 2014)

Ideas about financing energy efficiency projects are around every corner these days. Some are billed as silver bullets while others are clearly niche products.

Last week’s installment came at the Future Energy Conference, as a panel of five provided some nice variety and perspective. Three financiers and facilitators gave overviews of their respective approaches, and two users provided pragmatic perspective. A missing player was the utility, but you can read Stan Price’s piece, Making Markets Work For Efficiency, to learn more about Seattle City Light’s pay for performance effort.

My key take away from this session was that everything new is old again. Financing projects is still about careful technical and financial planning, credit-worthiness, appropriate leverage, strategic partners, and knowing your customer.

Jimmy Jia walked us through his approach that is based on fiscal discipline and resembles a revolving fund tailored for utilities and related expenses. The idea is fairly simple. Set aside funds to pay your utilities and to invest in improvements. As improvements are made, automatically re-invest the savings since your utility budgets are centralized in one account that is managed by Jia’s firm, Distributed Energy Management. DEM and its capital partner pay the utility bills directly, which further aligns the many utility-related expenses. On the savings side, DEM will also pursue utility incentives, and roll those savings into the master account. So in review, be proactive and create a holistic utility budget that centralizes all aspects and rewards. Read more