Archive for March, 2012

March 30, 2012

Making Your Green Building Work For Your Business

When is going green a sound investment, and is it ever the wrong move?  This recent blog post from the Green Real Estate Law Journal reported on a new study citing evidence against the market value of pursuing green building certifications in certain geographical/geopolitical areas, or on certain project types.  As it made the rounds at Brightworks, one of our schools of thought could be summed up as, “So there is no ‘one size fits all’ green building solution for everyone…and this is news?”

The study focused on a small group of industrial buildings that underperformed their “non-green” peers – an effect which was especially pronounced in politically conservative counties.  This runs contrary to more common studies showing increased value tied to green building.  It asked, “…If green rental premiums are attributable to the branding of space, why would industrial warehouse facilities…benefit? Alternatively, if energy efficiency drives green premia, such effects may well be more pronounced within the industrial sector.”  Exploring questions like these with clients is the foundation of our work, because the business case for sustainability is different for everyone.

These two charts from our Business Case for Sustainability presentation (you can read our related article or  view the presentation deck on SlideShare) present sample breakdowns of how the business benefits of green building might look different for two different buildings – an owner occupied building versus a speculative building meant to be sold.

The Business Case for a Green Owner Occupied Building

Owner Occupied Building

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March 20, 2012

Good News is Good

by Scott Lewis, Brightworks CEO

As the atmosphere’s CO2 level lurches towards 400 ppm and three-eyed fish are turning up in lakes adjacent to nuclear reactors, it’s important to remember that sometimes good efforts produce impressive results.


image via s.atlantic news agency.

So we were tremendously excited when the UN World Health Organization reported earlier this month that the Millennium Development Goal drinking water target had been met, and three years ahead of schedule.

According to the WHO report, 6.1 billion people, or 89% of the world’s population, now uses “improved drinking water sources” such as piped supplies and protected wells.  Two billion people gained access to these improved sources over the ten-year period from 2000 to 2010. 

Recognizing there is still much work to be done  – over 800 million people still drink dirty water worldwide – this rate and level of improvement is reason to pause and recognize that sometimes, when enough people make the right kind of effort, significant, meaningful results follow.  We’re not finished, by a long shot, but at least in this one area, real progress is being made in the right direction.  Good that.

March 7, 2012

Is Your Supply Chain Prepared for the Future?

Dave Newman, Senior Strategist, Brightworks Enterprise Solutions GroupBy Dave Newman, Senior Strategist

The humble supply chain will undergo a dramatic change as our energy network and systems transition from oil (fossil fuel) to renewable energy. Which begs the question: Is your company ready?

A business’ success or failure always depends on its ability to source and deliver products and services to the marketplace. Let’s look at how that delivery has historically taken place, how it will change as our energy network changes and how smart companies are preparing themselves.

Supply Chain Evolution

A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources that move a product from a company or supplier to the customer.  Picture a relay race of many runners: Each participant moves the relay baton until it reaches the finish line or, in this case, the marketplace where the product can be purchased.

Reviewing the evolution of the supply chain gives us a valuable foundation to discover what it may look like in the future.

Pre-Industrial Supply Chain

Before the industrial revolution, most people grew, raised or hunted for their food. All basic needs were available in the nearby town mercantile. In early America, some products were imported from European nations, but they tended to be expensive and were available only to the more affluent and urban populations. Goods traveled by truly sustainable supply chains – across oceans via sailing vessels powered by winds and currents, and locally via horse-drawn wagons.

Pre-Industrial Supply Chain: Companies, Manufacturing and the Marketplace in One Location

Pre-Industrial Supply Chain: Companies, Manufacturing and the Marketplace in One Location

March 6, 2012

On Maintaining Professional Credentials and LEED Accreditation

Nate Young, Education Coordinator, BrightworksBy Nate Young, Education Coordinator

Much has been made of the mismatch between the available jobs in the current market and the lack of training among many job seekers (including on this blog). Companies seek and value employees that come trained in very specific ways, and are unwilling to invest in bringing unqualified prospects up to speed. Among the best ways to prove your worth to employers is to gain and maintain pertinent credentials and certifications while honing the skills those credentials require.

In the building professions, LEED accreditation has fast become one of the core qualifications employers seek.

Brightworks’ built environment staff and clients are just now experiencing the first wave of renewals within the credentialing maintenance system the USGBC rolled out in June 2009. Included in the revamped system is a Credential Maintenance Program (CMP), now run by partner organization GBCI. This program requires all LEED Accredited Professionals (APs) to complete continuing education to maintain their credentials on a two-year schedule.

Numerous Brightworks employees took the earliest exams under the new system and have now completed the first round of credential renewal. Our staff has been fielding calls from many clients and partners seeking help with the new system, so I wanted to share some tips and pointers to ease what can be a challenging process.

Don’t procrastinate

Take Notes!

Record keeping like this will get you in trouble.

For starters, depending on how prepared you are, expect to spend several hours completing the process of renewing your credential. Let me stress again – the renewal process is long and involved. It’s likely to last weeks, depending on the types of credits you are submitting for your credential. As an architect recently told me, “This is much more rigorous and confusing than maintaining my architect’s license with the state.” Please don’t wait until the week your credential lapses to begin!

Like cooking dinner or painting a room, things move much more quickly when you are thoroughly prepared. GBCI requires online reporting that asks for many details you probably haven’t been recording, and tracking them down will take time. I have created this tool (click to download) that can help to organize your CE information in the exact format you’ll need to complete “My Credentials” on GBCI’s website.

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March 5, 2012

“I want to build sustainably, but I’m not sure where to start.”

Dennis Lynch, VP Sustainable Buildings Group, BrightworksBy Dennis Lynch, VP, Sustainable Buildings Group

The other day an architect started a conversation with Brightworks about green building by saying he was not in favor of LEED and didn’t see the value in it for his firms’ clients. As our conversation continued, he related a few instances where he was able to interest his clients in at least considering some sustainable features for their building design. By the end, he confessed he did want to build more sustainably more often. His question to us was: “How do I get started?”

After reflecting on this question for some time, I realized you can begin building green in several ways. You can start with something easy, something strategic or something meaningful that makes the changes most valuable to you. Each entry point opens the door to more action, and each will suit a different type of business.


Start! Image via The Lost Jacket

Start with Easy and Inexpensive

My very first thought in response to his question was: Why not try greener alternatives that will have little or no cost? Recycled carpet to reduce waste and low-VOC paints and adhesives to keep toxic chemicals out of the building are easy substitutions. You’re already specifying carpet and paint, so just specify something greener. There are probably a dozen items like these you can easily incorporate into your design and construction.

Start with Strategy

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