Vintage postcard of the Merchandise Mart
Existing buildings seem to be overlooked when the sustainability topic arises, although USGBC’s LEED program has had an EB (existing building) designation for three years now. The shift from new construction to the rehabilitation of the estimated 4.5 million commercial properties already built is one that is necessary, especially considering that commercial buildings account for over 60% of the nation’s electricity consumption.
One of the largest buildings to get LEED certification, The Merchandise Mart in Chicago takes up two city blocks and has its own zip code. Spearheaded by Myron Maurer and Christopher Kennedy, brother of Robert Kennedy of NRDC fame, the Merch Mart received a Silver LEED rating.
With the real estate market morph towards realistic values, this seems to be the time when many property management companies and large commercial building owners are staying put and looking for ways to increase tenant retention and decrease operating costs. Building owners, meet sustainability. Sustainability, building owners.
From the New York Times Sunday business section:
The headquarters of the software maker Adobe Systems received a platinum rating for its three towers in December 2006. Adobe spent 1.4 million on the project, but earned that back in savings in less than 10 months.
The myth that “green” buildings cost more is thankfully being successfully challenged at every turn. I personally am incredibly interested in the LEED ReGreen program, addressing residential remodeling projects using a whole house approach. Helping homeowners to retrofit and build upon what they have, as opposed to using more natural resources by building a new house from scratch, is also an exciting prospect.