Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Talking The Talk

By Joe Salimando – www.eleblog.com

Most electrical contractors are primarily interested in showing what they can do – “walking the walk,” so to speak. But in the sustainability arena, “talking the talk” might matter as well.

That leads to a question: How much do you know about green buildings? Did you know, for example:

“In a fairly recent study in Australia, a law firm tracked the before and after sick days after a move to a 5-green-star-rated building, a high rating in Australia, and found sick days reduced by 39% overall, to .28 days per month.

“That change alone cut the average monthly cost of sick leave significantly. Other productivity gains were said to have ‘gone through the roof’.”

That’s from a draft copy of Green Buildings an Productivity, a paper prepared for the Journal of Sustainable Real Estate by a team led by a U. of San Diego professor and the national director of sustainability for the real estate company CB Richard Ellis. You can read the 31-page document, free.

What’s the point? The return-on-investment numbers you (and others) can cite for any business converting to a green building are dwarfed, in the real world, by the productivity pay-off. It’s not a “hard” ROI number . . . but it’s there, and forgetting to think about it (and perhaps talk about it) might be a mistake.

How about this:

“Separate metering means almost as much as a significantly improved Energy Star score for saving energy. A separately metered building, where tenants pay for what they consume, will have lower energy costs by 21% on average – even if the Energy Star score is the same.

“That is, when you pay for what you consume, you become much more frugal.”

That’s just one of seven “findings” from the 63-page Do Green Buildings Make Dollars and Sense, another collaboration between the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate at the U. of San Diego and CB Richard Ellis. An 11/6/09 draft is available, free, online.

Obviously, what they’re talking about there is submetering, something electrical contractors can readily provide. Much of what’s above is common sense; but does it have more credibility if you make the claim, or if you back it up by handing someone such a document?

AND: Is there more in this document that can outline opportunity, provide backing for claims you can make to potential customers, and generally upgrade your familiarity with what’s current in the world of sustainability and energy-smart customers? The answer, no doubt, is Yes.

Certainly, the world of “green expertise” is not limited to USD and CBRE (even if CB Richard Ellis is a global leader in real estate). There are plenty of other studies online, some of which have been (and will be) highlighted here on the Energy Solutions blog.

The question is: While you’re ready to walk the walk, can you “talk” the green language in this new environment for customers, architects, engineers, and sustainability consultants?

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