According to the Department of Energy, the nation’s building sector has become increasingly more energy efficient during the last 30 years. Since the mid 1970s, energy efficiency for commercial building space has improved by 25 percent per square foot, despite the dramatic increase in plug loads from computers, faxes, televisions and other office equipment. This efficiency has lowered commercial building energy costs and resulted in significant reductions in the CO2 emissions that would otherwise have been generated by on and off-site combustion.
In 2005, additional data from the Department of Energy and the U.S. EPA shows that the commercial building sector accounted for 4 percent of the direct CO2 emissions (from onsite energy combustion) and 12 percent of indirect CO2 emissions (emissions released at power plants as a by-product of providing electrical energy to buildings and their occupants).
Additional energy efficiency and increased use of non-carbon based fuels are needed and will result in lower CO2 emissions associated with the commercial building sector. Such efficiency can be achieved through a combination of forward-thinking building development, retrofits, operational practices and positive incentive based changes in public policy.
In a proactive approach to engage its members and the commercial development industry in advancing an economically prosperous and sustainable built environment, NAIOP commits to:
- Encourage the real estate development industry to employ every technically feasible, cost-effective, sustainable strategy available to increase energy efficiency of new and existing buildings, and to employ cleaner, low carbon energy alternatives (including onsite energy), wherever possible.
- Advance public policies that accelerate ongoing energy efficiency and sustainability gains; support cleaner (including onsite) energy alternatives; and promote, wherever feasible, less carbon intensive transportation options to and from buildings.
- Engage in educational programs, seminars and conferences to help employ best practices for energy efficient development.
To achieve our objectives, we encourage policy makers at the local, state and national levels to:
- Support energy efficiency incentives for new and existing buildings through R&D and local, state and federal tax provisions.
- Support the accelerated development of and increased access to cleaner, more efficient and lower carbon fuels (e.g., wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, etc.), including onsite or distributed generation (e.g., solar or co-generation) and mechanisms such as “net metering” that allows building owners that generate more “green power” electricity than they consume each month to deliver the excess back to utilities for market price.
- Encourage the construction of more energy efficient sustainable buildings through robust incentives, such as priority building permit review, improved tax treatment and zoning density bonuses (i.e., increased floor area ratios).
- Encourage the voluntary retrofitting of existing buildings through incentives such as expedited depreciation schedules, low-interest loans from utilities/other government agencies and utility rebates.
- Allow for real estate to participate directly or indirectly in greenhouse gas “Cap and Trade” markets in a way that recognizes, where appropriate, past and current energy conservation efforts.
- Increase infrastructure for low carbon transportation alternatives, (e.g. mass transit) and incentivize through local and state programs transportation options such as ride sharing, bicycling and public transportation.
The commercial real estate development industry is one of the leading U.S. employers, supporting 4.2 million jobs across all sectors of the national economy. The industry also generates personal earnings of $1.2 trillion and contributes more than $494.8 billion to the Gross Domestic Product.
NAIOP values the earth's resources and recognizes the positive impact that sustainable development has on the environment and the properties its members create.
NAIOP believes that the intelligent use of energy, materials and other resources yields environmental benefits, and that the lifecycle of a building - from site development through design, construction, renovation, operations and demolition - should strive to employ every usable, cost-effective, sustainable strategy available.
NAIOP applauds states, provinces, municipalities and communities that offer incentives for sustainable building that enable responsible developers to build better buildings and meet the needs of environmentally-conscious owners and occupants, both today and in the future.
NAIOP encourages its members to seek education and certification resources made available by NAIOP or various organizations that provide an understanding of developing and maintaining high-performance properties.
NAIOP's E-Library devotes an entire section to resources regarding green development, including published books, CDs of case studies and Real Estate Briefing (a packet of photocopied materials including articles from top trade magazines, comprehensive case studies and presentation excerpts from NAIOP conferences).