Net-Zero buildings top measure of sustainability success

the Crystal

Net-zero commercial buildings, i.e. those that produce at least as much energy as they consume should be the long-term aim of corporate energy strategies, says a CoreNet Global statement. “Smart and responsible energy policies and practices reduce corporate carbon footprints and greenhouse gas emissions, (and) we encourage our members’ companies to drive energy efficiency to optimal levels with net-zero buildings as a top measure of long-term success.” The global real estate association calls on governments around the world to incentivise building owners, investors and occupiers who proactively reduce their carbon footprints.

“Office, industrial, retail and other types of commercial real estate account for 40 percent of the world’s annual energy consumption, making energy management and energy conservation socially responsible corporate practices,” said CoreNet Global Chairman, Jim Scannell, Senior Vice President of Administrative Services at The Travelers Companies, Inc.

The statement emphasises: “tangible benefits for companies and management teams which prioritise energy efficiency and take steps to reduce the carbon footprint. They will realise meaningful return on investment financially, socially and environmentally – as is consistent with the principles of the Triple Bottom Line accounting model.”

CoreNet Global’s Issues Advocacy Focus Group coordinated the wide-ranging statement based on extensive input from subject matter experts and the extensive, long-term documentation of best-in-class energy management practices from among its more than 7,900 members worldwide.

It also marks the first time that corporate occupiers representing the demand side of the commercial real estate industry have spoken with a unified voice to advocate for public policy issues and corporate practices that impact business and society. In its 2012 Industry Leaders Opinion Poll, 90 percent of CRE executives who responded regard energy management as the most urgent issue facing the CRE industry.

“We’re beginning to see the huge environmental, social and economic benefits that energy-independent facilities are offering,” Scannell added.

A notable example of the kind of benefits of an energy-independent building is The Crystal, [pictured] which hosted this week’s Workplace Futures 2013 conference. It is one of the most sustainable buildings in the world, featuring solar power and ground source heat pumps to generate its own energy. Click here for an interactive guide to its dynamic design.