Design, Global Climate Crisis, LEED, Planning, UGC Event
Don’t Be Al Gore
September 18, 2012 | By Cecil Scheib |
The following was blogged live from our Fall Conference on September 18, 2012 – “Cooling on Climate Change: Designing the Message.” Panelist Dan Probst, Chairman of Energy and Sustainability Services at Jones Lang LaSalle, discusses the role of the green building industry in addressing global climate change.
Dan Probst would like to see everyone in America take personal and professional action to mitigate climate change…but more realistically, he focuses on helping building owners improve building performance. He remembers showing a series of Al Gore style slides to a building industry group, and thinking he did a great job — only to be told by an audience member that the whole global warming thing was a hoax. Belatedly, he realized that he should have been focusing on what was important to the people he was talking to, not what he thought was important.
In the building industry, “we have to get out there and retrofit”, Dan says. “Cash for clunkers” type programs won’t work (at least for commercial buildings) because the stock doesn’t turn over fast enough; we have to improve existing buildings. He pointed to the example of the Empire State Building as a 1930s-era building that was able to perform deep energy retrofits that were cost effective. However, sometimes that ESB example is “scary” to people, says Dan, because there was significant capital investment involved. Not to worry – he believes operational and “low-cost/no-cost” changes can also produce big savings.
Dan reiterated a message heard many times during the conference: focus on related drivers to sustainability, like future proofing assets, risk management, employee retention, and brand enhancement, to support efforts that address climate change.
Big players like the SEC and major investors and insurers are spending time researching and understanding climate change risk. If these conservative institutions are spending time and energy in this area, building owners probably should too. Dan used figures that LEED buildings command a rent premium, as well as statistics showing reduced absenteeism and increased employee satisfaction, to demonstrate the value proposition of green building. He says it’s something every building owner could be thinking about.