Verge and the built environment report

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Take a look at the growing trend of telework & in some reports how to save up to $10,000 per employee by integrating telecommuters into your business

Text of Verge and the built environment report

  • by ROB WATSONCEO, EcoTech International &

    Sr. Contributor, GreenBiz.com

    Defining and accelerating the business of sustainability.

    BUILT ENVIRONMENT

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    October 2012

  • 2 2012 GreenBiz Group Inc. (www.greenbizgroup.com). May be reproduced for noncommercial purposes only, provided credit is given to GreenBiz Group Inc. and includes this copyright notice.

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    Researched and Written by Rob Watson

    For GreenBiz Group:

    Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor

    Derek Top, Senior Editor and Program Director, VERGE

    Eric Faurot, Chief Executive Officer

    Pete May, Co-founder and President

    Samuel Smith, Executive Producer

    Alan Robinson, VP Sales

    Thanks to Our Sponsors:

    Executive Summary ....................................................................................3

    Buildings: Doing More with Less ................................................................5

    Transportation: Access Trumps Mobility ...................................................10

    Information and Communications: Catalyst & Enabler ............................15

    Energy: Smarter and Decarbonized .........................................................20

    Infrastructure: Falling Apart ......................................................................24

    Its the Economy, Stupid (or Is It?).............................................................29

    Coda: Optimizing the Whole ...................................................................30

    About the Author .....................................................................................31

    About the Sponsors ..................................................................................32

    About VERGE ...........................................................................................33

    About GreenBiz Group .............................................................................34

    2012 GreenBiz Group Inc. (www.greenbizgroup.com). May be reproduced for noncommercial purposes only, provided credit is given to GreenBiz Group Inc. and includes this copyright notice.

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  • 3 2012 GreenBiz Group Inc. (www.greenbizgroup.com). May be reproduced for noncommercial purposes only, provided credit is given to GreenBiz Group Inc. and includes this copyright notice.

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    In 2011, GreenBiz Group asked: What happens when four massive technologies (energy, information, buildings, and transportation) collide? The answer is an unprecedented opportunity for business and sustainability called VERGE.

    VERGE refers to a vast array of products, services, and business models, and includes within its sphere a number of other trends: next-gen cities, intelligent buildings, connected mobility systems, big data, smart grids, the share economy, and more. Each of these things is a product of this technological/industrial convergence, and each stands to have its own profound impact on business, consumers, government, and sustainability.

    Of course, VERGE is place-based that is, it happens somewhere: a building, campus, neighborhood, city, or region. That is the focus of this report: the key trends that undergird how this technology convergence will unfold in the context of the built environment over the next few years.

    The 20th century emphasized linear thinking and the efficiencies of assembly-line production. We got very good at understanding the parts and optimizing the components. Unfortunately, this came at the expense of sub-optimization of the larger system. By contrast, we believe the 21st century will be one of integration and non-linear systems thinking a convergence of increasingly complementary parts in support of an optimized whole. The overall catalyst for this systems view is information and communications technologies, or ICT the explosion of information-enabled products and services.

    That is certainly true when it comes to the built environment. Truly competitive buildings, developments and cities are rife with connectivity that extends from the micro to the macro. Sensors and other metering technologies increasingly are becoming embedded in building equipment that can now be connected, monitored, controlled, and optimized through cross-platform management systems that allow interoperability. ICT is now facilitating and enabling the beginning of two-way flow of information and energy a conversation between the electric power grid and intelligent buildings, vehicles, and devices of all kinds. And, as mobile broadband expands, all these components can be controlled at a device, building or portfolio level by a conventional smart phone, or even machine-to-machine, without human intervention.

    Although the convergence of buildings with energy, ICT and transportation is just emerging, the following indicators show that it is already having a positive impact on helping companies and cities achieve their sustainability goals:

    Projected 2012 CO2 emissions in the United States are on track to be about 14 percent lower than the 2007 peak. In terms of emissions per real dollar1 of GDP, the rate has decreased steadily since the 1973-74 oil embargo from 1.93 pounds per dollar of GDP to a forecast 0.76 pounds in 20122 except for odd year or two when the recession sapped economic growth more than the regular improvement of energy efficiency. Energy consumption per dollar of GDP shows a very similar trend from 15.41 kBtu down to 7.48 kBtu per real dollar of GDP.

    1 Real dollars are adjusted for inflation. We used the figures in the Monthly Energy Review (MER) September 2012 based on chained 2005 dollars. Table 1.7.

    2 2012 GDP figures assume a 1.9% growth rate (Bloomberg, October 15th); CO2 figures are based on YTD fig-ures for Buildings (Residential & Commercial), Transportation and Industry derived from the MER report.

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  • 4 2012 GreenBiz Group Inc. (www.greenbizgroup.com). May be reproduced for noncommercial purposes only, provided credit is given to GreenBiz Group Inc. and includes this copyright notice.

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    Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) per capita peaked in 2004 and have declined 6 percent since; total VMT is down about 3 percent from its 2007 peak. Oil imports peaked in 2006 and oil consumption peaked the year before.

    Fixed broadband penetration (defined as download speeds of at least 2 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 756 kbps) exceeds 40 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, but ranks 15th of 28 OECD countries on a per capita basis.

    Building energy use in 2012 is expected to be almost 8 percent below the 2008 peak, the lowest annual consumption this century. Commercial building energy use is almost 6 percent lower than the 2008 apex. Launched in 2000, the LEED Green Building Rating System now represents over 20 percent of new construction in the U.S.

    Residential sector energy use is forecast to be nearly 11 percent lower. The average size of a dwelling unit (weighted average including both single & multifamily) is 7 percent below its 2006 peak.

    It may be tempting to dismiss many of these indicators as being driven purely by challenging economic and employment conditions, but our research indicates that, as important as the recent recession is in driving change and transforming markets, as our report indicates, there is more to these trends than that.

    Building energy use in 2012 is expected

    to be almost 8 percent below the 2008 peak,

    the lowest annual consumption this

    century.

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    2008

    2006

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    20001998

    199619941992

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    198619841982

    19801978

    197619742012 est.

    POUNDS OF CO2 / DOLLAR OF GDP (2005)

    Pounds of Carbon Emissions per Real Dollar of GDPEnergy Information Administration, Department of Energy, Monthly Energy Review, September 2012, Table 1.7 & Table 12.1.

  • 5 2012 GreenBiz Group Inc. (www.greenbizgroup.com). May be reproduced for noncommercial purposes only, provided credit is given to GreenBiz Group Inc. and includes this copyright notice.

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    The Big Picture Enabled by technology, changing demographics and individual preferences, companies are trying to squeeze more out of the space they have, rather than squeezing out more space. This trend toward greater asset utilization is most evident in the office sector, through we see signs of this in retail buildings, schools, and homes, which are increasingly becoming part-time workspaces. Most corporate real estate professionals see their portfolio contracting, not expanding, in the near term.

    Average office space per person is steadily declining and forecast to drop more than 30 percent in the next five years. Big-box retailers are downsizing their stores, in some cases as much as 40 percent, and adopting urban location strategies rather than a strictly suburban/rural approach. (If this trend fully evolves, we may need to rethink the big box moniker.) In U.S. homes, the size of an average new residential unit is down more than 7 percent since 2006.3

    The Drivers In the 2008-2011 Green Building Market and Impact Report, we wrote extensively about drivers of building energy efficiency, including the LEED Green Building Rating System and its interplay with the ASHRAE national energy standard. We believe tha