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Sustainable Development Update
July 26, 2017
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Sustainable Development Focus

Commercial office space green building on rise

Proud Green Building - Jul 21 Green building in commercial office space continues to grow, according to a new CBRE study. The National Green Building Adoption Index shows that the percentage of commercial office space that has been certified as “green” or “efficient” by LEED or Energy Star certification now stands at 38 percent across 30 office markets in the United States. That is an increase from less than 5 percent in 2005. Over the past 10 years, 22 cities, the District of Columbia, two counties, and two states have passed laws requiring privately owned buildings to annually benchmark their energy consumption, as well as to publish the resulting metric. The report shares that a city that enacts a benchmarking ordinance is correlated with a 9 percent increase in Energy Star and LEED-certified buildings, and a 21 percent increase in such square footage. 


DOE partners with Xcel and Panasonic to test smart city ideas in Denver

Utility Dive - Jul 24 The U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is working with two companies on a smart city project in Denver, allowing the lab to employ and improve its grid modeling capabilities. Panasonic and Xcel Energy are also involved in the development of Peña Station NEXT, which is being billed as an "energy- and health-conscious community built for the next 100 years." According to DOE, Xcel Energy "will consider owning and operating the necessary infrastructure to achieve carbon neutrality" as part of the project. Under the smart-city concept being developed south of the Denver International Airport, Panasonic will test a range of technologies, including smart street lighting, a solar parking garage, autonomous shuttles, and a microgrid with storage.

Bakersfield votes to end controversial program that funds home solar panels

Los Angeles Times - Jul 20 As home improvement projects to increase energy efficiency have exploded in California, so has the controversy over a property tax-based financing program that’s helped spur the growth. Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans — which pay for solar panels, efficient appliances, and other improvements — have been blamed by real estate agents for gumming up home sales, while some consumers have accused contractors of misrepresenting the financing and saddling them with loans they don’t understand and can’t afford. Now, amid concerns that have prompted proposed reforms in Sacramento, some municipalities are taking a second look at their participation in the program. On Wednesday, the City Council of Bakersfield — the state’s ninth-largest city — voted to end its program, making it the second government agency this month to do so in Kern County.

Buyside likes PACE energy bond even after votes to cancel

Nasdaq - Jul 25 Investors are flocking to a new bond backed by energy-efficiency loans from Renovate America, shrugging off recent votes in two California locales to end the underlying lending plan. Renovate declined to discuss the roughly $205 million deal, its 11th securitization of PACE financing contracts. But two people close to the transaction told IFR it was progressing smoothly, with strong investor demand. The city council in Bakersfield voted last week to end PACE funding in the city as of August 5. Kern County decided in July to end the PACE program, but did grant Renovate America's HERO Funding program special exception for an additional six months. Renovate called the decisions "the middle of the story and not the end", and said tweaks to the program should allow it to return. 

Elaborate NFL stadium stormwater control system detailed

Environmental Leader - Jul 19 Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, home of the San Francisco 49ers, made environmental history when it first opened in 2014. In addition to using recycled and reclaimed materials for construction, sporting a 27,000-square-foot green roof, and generating solar power, the $1.2 billion stadium has an elaborate system for stormwater management. Since rainwater can turn a football field into a muddy swamp, it can easily turn a parking lot into a floodplain, stormwater collection and treatment system company Oldcastle Building Solutions points out in their new case study of Levi’s Stadium. To deal with stormwater in the parking lots, project engineers GHD installed a modular system of precast concrete biofiltration units. Above ground the system resembles normal landscaping, but it allows the water to flow downward, get treated, and then go into an underground pipe. Microbes break down the filtered pollutants while the water irrigates plants and trees nearby.

Caltrain electrification project kicks off with groundbreaking ceremony

San Jose Mercury News - Jul 21 A parade of politicians attended a groundbreaking ceremony for Caltrain’s electrification project last Friday, heralding the start of what they called the most important upgrade in the rail line’s 153-year-history. The $2 billion project will mean faster, greener, and more reliable service, replacing the current diesel trains that go back and forth between San Francisco and San Jose’s Tamien station with a new fleet of electric train cars. When the first electrified Caltrain trips start running — a milestone expected in 2021 — they’ll be able to handle 80 percent more passenger trips a day than they do now.

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