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Plain Dealer’s Steve Litt article in Architectural Record on Cleveland Regaining its Urbanity

Though its population has shrunk to just below 400,000 from nearly 1 million in the 1950s, Cleveland is experiencing a $6 billion burst of development that includes everything from big downtown projects to the fine-grained revival of a half-dozen neighborhoods. An influx of young professionals, drawn by jobs in tech, digital media, marketing, and biomedical companies, has led to a tight downtown rental market with a residential population of about 10,000 and growing, and an occupancy rate of nearly 96 percent.

Cleveland, Ohio | American City | Features | Architectural Record.

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A great article by Maria Gallucci at Solve Climate News, the other day highlighting Seattle’s 2030 initiative and the City’s organized effort to be one of the pilot locations for the Better Buildings initiative.  The concept of the industry leaders “banded together”  is one that is critical to moving green building and energy initiatives forward.  As the article describes, these partnerships resulted in early funding from the EPA’s Climate Showcase Communities Program and Better Buildings Initiative (see our post last week on BBI and jobs) as well as a process to move the plans forward.

Seattle is greening its cityscape in a bid to boost its sluggish real estate market — all while cutting global warming emissions and slashing energy costs.  Industry leaders have banded together to spearhead a high-performance building initiative — the first of its kind nationwide — that sets ambitious sustainability and efficiency goals for privately owned buildings in the heart of the city.

To drive the initiative, Seattle 2030 will use a three-year grant totaling $500,000 from the EPA’s Climate Showcase Communities Program and grants from the Bullitt Foundation to provide property owners and developers with the audits, tools and training necessary to reach the goals.

The EPA grant, awarded this spring, allowed Geller to leave his position at ZGF Architects to lead the Seattle 2030 project full-time.

Jess Harris of the city’s planning and development department said that the EPA grant would also allow Seattle to expand its Priority Green permitting program, which expedites and streamlines paperwork from various departments for energy-efficient retrofits and upgrades.

“We’re trying to create one-stop shopping” for permits related to the district, he said.

Oakland, Calif.-based Lucid Design Group is building a web-based master dashboard for Seattle 2030 to track hourly energy and water use for all participating buildings.

Geller said: “We’ll be the first major urban area that’s going to have something like that.”

The city itself received a $20 million grant from the Obama administration’s Better Buildings Initiative, which aims to increase the energy efficiency of commercial buildings by 20 percent in 2020.

Seattle also joined Los Angeles and Atlanta this summer in the federal initiative’s Better Buildings Challenge to spur $500 million in private investment for energy efficiency improvements nationwide.

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Over the course of 2011, we will see numerous cities and states beginning to require energy report cards for commercial properties.  For years, certain energy data has been required to receive incentives, meet certification requirements or provide marketing fodder for properties but with these new reporting mechanisms, transparency in energy performance will become the norm.

In the July 2011 issue of Green Source, Nadav Malin’s article, Let There Be Data, he describes the two major distinctions in these new energy report cards:

New York isn’t the only place where energy reporting is now the law. Washington, D.C., Seattle, San Francisco, and the state of Washington also have requirements kicking in this year, according to BuildingRating.org, a website that tracks this trend. Mandates in California and Austin, Texas, go into effect in 2012. There are many variations on these mandates, but they tend to fall into two main categories: 1) annual reporting to the government and 2) disclosure to the other parties (and to the government) in conjunction with a sale or lease. Both types of programs depend on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Portfolio Manager, because it has a track record as a tool for collecting energy numbers and key property characteristics in a consistent and manageable way.

While it is too early to tell how the data for the privately owned buildings will be managed and communicated.  The potential to access real performance data could significantly increase the stories we tell about energy efficiency and the opportunity for return on investment.  The momentum in the reporting landscape will also soon be spurred on by the recent partnership between the Department of Energy and The Appraisal Foundation.  This collaboration will focus on linking energy performance and building appraisals.

As part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to improve commercial building efficiency 20 percent by 2020, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced a partnership with The Appraisal Foundation that will help expand access to energy efficiency and building performance information for commercial buildings and help American businesses to reduce energy waste.  Under the new partnership, the Department of Energy and The Appraisal Foundation will work to ensure that appraisers nationwide have the information, practical guidelines, and professional resources they need to evaluate energy performance when conducting commercial building appraisals. This will help enable investors, building owners and operators, and others to accurately assess the value of energy efficiency as part of the building’s overall appraisal.

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