Week of August 18, 2003
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IAMC in Boston:
Green Building Guru toby JACK LYNE, Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing
Paint Profit-Making Picture
NORCROSS, Ga. Green buildings are a profit-friendly idea whose time has come, insists Alan Whitson, Tuesday's General Session keynoter at the Industrial Asset Management Council's (IAMC at www.iamc.org) Sept. 7-10 Fall Professional Forum in Danvers, Mass.
Centered on environmental sustainability, Whitson's Sept. 9 session will have particular resonance, coming on the heels of last week's staggering electrical blackout, which crippled huge areas of the U.S. and Canada. That's because America's commercial and residential buildings are massive energy sponges, accounting for two-thirds of all of the country's energy consumption.
Most real estate experts have come 'round to seeing green buildings as not only energy savers, but bottom-line boosters to boot. The problem, though, is that few companies have in-depth knowledge about green design strategies.
That knowledge gap took concrete form due to the organization that Whitson serves as president, the Corporate Realty, Design & Management Institute (CRDMI at www.squarefootage.net). In August of 2002, Portland, Ore.-based CRDMI and Buildings magazine conducted a survey of corporate real estate executives and facility managers.
Only 1 percent of respondents said that green building designs were "not important" in the "Measuring the Success of Green" survey. But respondents were also asked this question: "How well are green design issues understood at your firm?" Sixty-three percent said "not at all" or "somewhat."
That knowledge gap is just what Whitson's IAMC presentation is designed to bridge.
Whitson Brings Broad Real Estate ExperienceWhitson is anything but the wide-eyed, know-nothing type that, unfortunately, leads some green initiatives. Instead, the green building guru comes to IAMC's Boston-area bash with a storehouse of real estate experience.
Whitson has spent more than a quarter of a century as a corporate real estate director, facilities manager, development manager, broker and real estate consultant. His resume includes stints with Bank of America's corporate real estate division, the Shorenstein Company, Storek & Storek Architecture and Environmental Design Engineering.
Whitson's energy and cost savvy were evident in his role in heading up the renovation of a 144,000-sq.-ft. (12,960-sq.-m.) historical building on the West Coast. He found that bids for the building's new HVAC system were 19 percent over budget. So Whitson instead directed a system redesign, slashing costs by 35 percent. At the same time, the new HVAC scheme reduced annual energy costs by 23 percent, improved air quality, and increased rentable and usable square footage.
Whitson's experience also included the financial and operational feasibility analyses for Bank of America's US$660 million sale of its San Francisco world headquarters and its sale of a 48-percent interest in Arco Plaza in Los Angeles. Those two transactions together totaled more than $1 billion.
Like his experience, Whitson's presentations are long on specifics. His "Turning Green into Gold" seminars, for example, include demonstrating how to cut energy costs by 40 percent or more and how a lighting system upgrade can add $6 per sq. ft. to a building's value.
Boston Theme Continues IAMC's Real-World FocusWhitson, a BOMA-designated Real Property Administrator, continues the real-world focus that has distinguished IAMC. The association has set itself apart from the real estate pack by focusing on executive-level managers in the industrial and manufacturing sectors who're responsible for corporate real estate and asset management.
Co-author of 365 Important Questions To Ask About Green Buildings, Whitson continues the experience-based environmental approach evident at IAMC's Fall 2002 Professional Forum in Savannah, Ga. The Georgia gathering included a key presentation by Sanford Smith, Toyota Motor Sales USA corporate manager of real estate and facilities.
Smith described the hard-nosed business sense behind Toyota's "Process Green." The environmental initiative is part of the corporate mission of reducing Toyota Motor Sales USA's internal energy use by 50 percent by the year 2010.
"We do not have a blank check to go off and sprinkle green dust on everything Toyota does," Smith told IAMC in Savannah. "These are not strange, wacky buildings with people running around them in Birkenstocks."
Instead, profits and significant energy reductions are what Process Green is all about. In the initiative's first two years, Toyota Motor Sales USA saw a return on its Process Green investment of more than 55 percent. Over the same period, the company reduced energy usage by 10 percent.
In addition to Whitson, IAMC has a distinguished speaker roster on tap at the Sheraton Ferncroft Golf Resort (www.sheratonferncroftresort.com). Other presenters on the Boston conference's theme, "Agile Leadership for the Bottom Line: Dealing with Corporate Governance, Ethics and Economic Reality," include Harvard professor and managerial expert Donald Sull; Enron whistle-blower Lynn Brewer; New Mexico State economist and futurist Lowell Catlett; and high-profile corporate ethicist Richard Schroth.
For a full look at the Danvers program, as well as the Boston-metro's myriad attractions, see www.iamc.org/forum/2003/Danvers.
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