NewEnergyNews: BIG GREEN BUILDINGS

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, Oct. 23:

  • TTTA Thursday-EVANGELICALS IN ‘CREATION CARE’ CLIMATE FIGHT
  • TTTA Thursday-ADVANCED WIND-MAKERS MAKANI, SHEERWIND READY DEMOS
  • TTTA Thursday-TEA PARTY BACKS SOLAR, ATTACKS UTILITY MONOPOLIES
  • TTTA Thursday-WHAT DRIVERS DON’T KNOW HOLDS BACK THE FUTURE
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE IMPACT ON REAL PEOPLE OF RISING POWER PRICES
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 22: SCHOOLS SAVE W/GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS; BUILDING FOR NEXT-GEN U.S. BIOFUELS; ENERGY STORAGE MARKET EMERGING
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    GET THE DAILY HEADLINES EMAIL: CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: WHERE U.S. OFFSHORE WIND WILL CONNECT
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 21: SOLARCITY TO CROWDFUND WITH $1,000 BONDS; NEW JERSEY LOOKS AT OCEAN WIND; SMART LED LIGHTING MRKT TO DOUBLE
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN TRANSMISSION
  • QUICK NEWS, Oct. 20: ELEVEN GOOD THINGS ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY; YAHOO BUYS WIND; SMART THERMOSTATS’ BILLION DOLLAR FUTURE
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: The Ocean Speaks Out
  • Weekend Video: Adapting To The Inevitable
  • Weekend Video: The Joy Of Driving EVs Powered By The Sun
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-HOTTEST SEPTEMBER EVER; WORLD’S HOTTEST MONTHS STREAK AT SIX
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU WIND BEATS FOSSIL, NUKE ENERGY PRICES
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-DESERTEC SUCCUMBS TO MIDEAST TURMOIL
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-JAPAN UPS PUSH FOR GEOTHERMAL
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Tuesday, July 07, 2009

    BIG GREEN BUILDINGS

    Iconic skyscrapers find new luster by going green
    Chris Kahn, July 4, 2009 (AP)

    SUMMARY
    Increasingly, buildings that show “green” credentials are more successful in an ever more competitive commercial real estate marketplace. Owners and tenants are discovering that money spent for efficiency retrofits saves on power and water and attracts customers and tenants without compromising aesthetics.

    As a consequence, specialists who combine renovation and retrofits around the U.S. are busy insulating porous walls in grand old buildings, adding high tech water-efficient plumbing systems to classic architecture and using energy-saving recycled material in carpets and tile flooring with unique period designs.

    Case 1: The prime example of a skyscraper going green is Manhattan’s Empire State Building. Perhaps the world’s most iconic commercial architecture, the owners chose to spend $120 million on a variety of Energy Efficiency retrofits to make it a more economic as well as a more marketable address. (See NEW ENERGY EFFICIENCY FOR EMPIRE STATE BUILDING)

    click to enlarge

    The Empire State Building is getting a top-to-bottom renovation that includes $13.2 million in sustainable technologies to cut the building’s greenhouse gas emissions (GhGs). The 18-month makeover, which will earn the building a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), will cost little more than any other kind of renovation. It will include retrofitting all 6,500 windows and insulating radiators. The building's lighting, cold water and ventilation systems will also be upgraded. When complete, the owners expect to get energy savings of $4.4 million a year, enough to pay off the entire upgrade in ~3 years.

    click to enlarge

    One tenant, Skanska, chose the renovated Empire State Building for its LEED platinum certification. Another, attorney Jacques Catafago, chose it because it beats the cost of buildings uptown and saves money on operational costs.

    Case 2: The Christman Building is an 81-year-old Elizabethan Revival office in Lansing, Mich., that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During a renovation to repair the limestone exterior and preserve unique details like the mica light fixtures, the owners upgraded to water-efficient plumbing, increased natural light and a reflective "cool" roof, at a cost of $8.5 million.

    Case 3: Chicago's 36-year-old Sears Tower, a 110-story, staggered skyscraper, is doing a 5-year, $350 million green renovation. It will add solar panels, wind turbines and 35,000 square feet of sunlight-absorbing gardens to its roofs. The improvements will cut the tower's electricity use 80% and save 24 million gallons of water.

    The numbers are conclusive. Does Green Pay Off?, a CoStar Group study by Norm Miller, Jay Spivey and Andy Florance, shows clearly that energy efficient and LEED-certified buildings have higher occupancies, get more rent, lease better and sell better (after controlling for age, size and location).

    click to enlarge

    COMMENTARY
    A few years ago, the Empire State Building retrofit might have been considered a gamble. Today, it is considered a smart investment. The results of the CoStar study show in hard, cold numbers what real estate people had already begun to intuit: In recent years, environmentally friendly retrofits have begun to pay off. Companies, especially high-profile companies, want more efficient office spaces they can show off to their increasingly environmentally-aware clientele. New technology in older, more architecturally appealing buildings translates into higher property values, higher and longer leases and better occupancy rates.

    As a result, forward-thinking building owners have been buying retrofits. Less forward thinking owners are buying retrofits, too, because their tenants and prospective tenants are demanding them.

    click to enlarge

    The Empire State Building’s experience with Skanska, which specifically shopped for a property with the USGBC LEED certification, is becoming more common. High profile companies need the “green cred” to compete, sometimes even without knowing exactly what LEED certifification means.

    Transwestern management group works with tenants looking for certified properties. 9 of the properties it works with got LEED certification in 2009. They switched light bulbs, upgraded to efficient equipment and cut energy costs an average of 2%. That’s a big deal when power rates go up 10-to-40%. While Transwestern does not report increased leasing, its buildings have so far not had reduced occupancy, despite recessionary office building vacancy rates across the country that have gone from 10.9% in 2007 to 12.4% in the first quarter of 2009.

    The CoStar study covered ~1200 Energy Star and LEED-certified buildings. Energy Star buildings are those in the highest 25% of efficiency. It compared them to ~2000 non-green buildings. All the buildings in the study were multi-tenanted Class A office buildings of 200,000 square feet or more, 5 stories or more, and built since 1970.

    click to enlarge

    Green buildings had a 90.3% occupancy rate in the first 3 months of 2009 and rented at an average of $38.86 per square foot while the non-green rate was 84.7% and the average rent was $29.80 per square foot. The study reported the increased cost of retrofits that get Energy Star ratings or LEED certification for their enhanced efficiencies to be from 1.0%-to-10.3%, depending on the rating/certification level and the location.

    The CoStar study included an answer to an especially interesting question at this juncture: If a building owner finds tenants will not pay higher rents for retrofits and upgrades, is there still value in doing them?

    The study says the answer is probably “yes” because (a) the building will likely have faster absorption (get bought, leased or rented sooner), which is a financial benefit, and (b) there will be lower operating expenses and cap rates in the short-term as well as the expected long-term energy-saving benefits.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - Anthony E. Malkin, attorney and head of real estate group owners, Empire State Building: "In a good market, we're going to get the best rents for the best tenants…In a bad market like we have now, we're going to get tenants when other buildings won't."
    - Allan Skodowski, Transwestern management group: "They say 'We want LEED,' …and that's it...If one extra tenant comes and looks at the building, if the owner gets an extra penny or so a foot, then at the end of the day it's paying for itself…"
    - Marc Heisterkamp, director of commercial real estate, U.S. Green Building Council: "This isn't just a 'We are doing the right thing' movement…In the end, the numbers pencil out."

    click to enlarge

    - Spokeswoman, Skanska, an Empire State Building tenant: "We had looked at several downtown spaces, but the Empire State Building made the most sense…"
    - Jacques Catafago, attorney, an Empire State Building tenant: "We'd be paying twice as much [uptown]…"
    - From the Executive Summary of "Does Green Pay Off?" from The Journal of Sustainable Real Estate: “These results are promising for the benefits of investment in sustainable real estate, energy savings and for the green movement now sweeping our society. The payoff from wise green investment is easy to justify even if based on purely profit motivations.”

    1 Comments:

    At 2:21 AM, Blogger CitySteelBuildings.com said...

    That's great! It will inspire others to take the same road as well!

    Making buildings energy efficient and sustainable should be the top priority of every builder and owner and to see Empire State setting such an example is terrific!

    Thanks for sharing
    Kirk J. Steel
    http://www.citysteelbuildings.com/

     

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