Last week the EPA released its second annual list of the top twenty-five cities with the most buildings with its Energy Star rating. And for the second year in a row, Los Angeles topped the list with a total of 293 buildings, followed by Washington, DC at 204 buildings, and San Francisco in third position with 173(for the full list, see http://www.energystar.gov/ia/business/downloads /2009_Top_25_cities_chart.pdf). If you want to have a little fun, tell your friends and associates who are not very proficient in green and sustainable information which city topped the list. Most likely you'll get responses that range from "no way" to "no effing way". Either way, whatever city leads the pack, most important is that every year the amount of buildings continues to grow.
Last year, almost 3,900 commercial buildings earned the Energy Star designation, amounting to $900 million in utility bills savings and more than 4.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions cut from the environment. Thirteen types of buildings can qualify for Energy Star, including office buildings, schools, hospitals, and retail stores. Since the EPA began the Energy Star program in 1999, more than 9,000 buildings now wear the seal. In other words, more than 40% of these designations came on line in just the last year. Think about how fast the development community is moving towards an energy efficient society, at least from their part of the world. Considering that office buildings contribute to 40% of the country's entire carbon footprint, it's easy to see why property owners are moving in this direction. First, energy savings go straight to the bottom line of profitability. And that's always the primary concern for a developer and investor. Secondly, it makes good business sense because these cost savings are often passed directly onto the occupiers of the space, which makes them more attractive as places to take tenancy.
Based on the current rate that buildings are shooting for Energy Star, it won't be surprising to see more than 5,000 take the designation in 2010. It will also be interesting to see which cities climb in the rankings.
Jonathan A. Schein is CEO of ScheinMedia and publisher of MetroGreenBusiness.com