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NAIOP New Jersey: Re-Energize Your Buildings!
Program focuses on Technology, Incentives and the "Business Case" for Energy Efficiency
Noting that New Jersey's energy is the fourth most expensive in the country, "we don't generate enough power and have to import it," said Brad Molotsky, executive vice president and general counsel for Brandywine Realty Trust, leading off an update on renewables. "The more we can generate, the more costs will come down," he said. But while noting that the problem can be addressed by making our buildings more efficient, Molotsky explained that several in-place programs are underutilized. Among them: New Jersey Clean and Green, which promotes free energy auditing; the Pay for Performance program; and 179D, a federal threshold program.
"The nation's five million buildings provide the opportunity for retrofits, which would also create jobs and offer the potential to save $1 trillion in energy costs over 10 years," he said.
Closer to home, Stephen Kisker, who chairs Wolff & Samson's Renewable Energy and Sustainability Group, outlined bill S1925 in the state legislature. Recently signed by Gov. Christie, the law attempts to revamp New Jersey's solar program by accelerating the renewable portfolio standard (RPS); reducing the solar alternative compliance payment (SACP), a penalty which the utilities pay; instituting substantial grid supply limitations;
BUSINESS CASE FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Leading a discussion on the "business case" for energy efficiency, Rob Crespi of Wolff & Samson noted the importance of education and the growing interest by members of NAIOP NJ and the industry in general. The reason: "The tremendous amount of energy used by real estate."
"The real estate industry and the energy industry are joined at the hip," said Jeffrey M. Miller, executive vice president of Lee & Associates. "The real estate sector consumes about one-half of all energy in the U.S. every year. Over the next 23-25 years, the renovation, demolition and new construction of buildings will provide the opportunity to redesign and redefine energy usage-and the real estate industry will lead the charge."
At the heart of the issue for commercial real estate is pricing, which Jeff Grant, senior director of corporate energy for Mack Cali Realty Corp. termed "Mr. Toad's wild ride," with its swings attributed to everything from rate caps, to the capital markets and regulation. "All of this makes up the bottom line cost for energy," he said, noting that 40 percent of energy cost in New Jersey "is related to taxes." The answer: "Reducing energy consumption and increasing efficiency grows asset value."
The industrial sector offers challenges, according to Josh Avidan of Avidan Management, because of the amount of building stock that traces to the 1960s and ‘70s, well before energy efficiency was an issue. For one of his company's buildings, Avidan took advantage of the Pay for Performance program to conduct a full energy audit. "We took a holistic look at the building, and we were blown away by the impact in terms of building awareness, the investment and the return on investment.
"I can't emphasize enough the complete control and transparency we achieved," he said. "It is our hope that older existing buildings can be brought to the standards of newer buildings."
"Energy efficiency provides the most ‘bang for the buck' compared to generating more energy," said Grant. "In the process, both sides-landlords and tenants-win."
LATEST TECHNOLOGY & INCENTIVES
Addressing the topic of the latest energy-efficient technology for office and industrial buildings, the process begins with benchmarking, according to David Galante of GSH Group, Inc. "A building that has been operating for years tends to drift away from the way it was built," he said, noting that benchmarking will assess that and pave the way for retrofitting.
"Building management systems are required to determine how a building is operating, and you have to keep modifying and improving the system," he explained.
"Intelligent buildings start on the outside, and the systems inside must work in concert with the outside," said Ed Klimek of KSS Architects. Issues include the passage of heat, materials, window systems and more. Then there are the intangibles-
"With the amount of building stock in New Jersey, there are ways to repurpose buildings for better use," Klimek said. "Don't tear down the building-upgrade it and make it leasable."
"A lot can be done at low cost or no cost," Molotsky said. "People are starting to listen."
A summary of the various energy-related incentives and programs, their implementation and compliance in New Jersey, including those discussed by previous panelists, was presented by Gary Finger of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and Greg Hale of Natural Resource Defense Council.
"The reality, however, is that a lot of these programs are under-utilized,"
Attendees of the event were eligible to earn up to three Continuing Education Credits (CEUs), now required for professional re-licensing. "Education is an important part of what we do," said Michael McGuinness, chief executive officer of NAIOP NJ. "As this program demonstrates, we are committed to education, advocacy and providing networking opportunities for our members."