Edited by Jodi Summers
Every year, Yale University releases an Environmental Performance Index (EPI), calculating national environmental factors such as a country’s environmental health, air pollution, water resources and productive natural resources. So let us present to you the most recent top 10 winning countries who can boast the title of the most eco-friendly nations in the world.
1 – Switzerland
Switzerland’s hard-line legislation on pollution makes it one of the world’s most eco-friendly nations. Switzerland’s strategy is to continue to foster cooperation between organizations and individuals. To make sure everyone is acutely aware of how precious the environment can be, Switzerland charges for their water and waste management services as well as establishing severe environmental taxes. Prevention is the third key tenet, shown by the 2006 development of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), to sustain natural resources and develop safety measures for natural hazards.
2 – Norway
Overcast Norway is the home of the world’s largest solar production plant, owned by REC Group. Norway has also taken emissions seriously, and is now planning on becoming carbon neutral by 2030, not 2050 as originally expected. The change in anticipated timing has been reduced because of what Norway has learned by funding green projects abroad and reducing at-home driving and flying.
3 – Sweden
Sweden’s mandate for a country free of fossil fuels by 2020 puts it as the third most eco-friendly country on the planet. Already, a majority of Sweden’s power is either nuclear or hydroelectric. Solutions for automobile and flight transport include ethanol and animal waste conversion. Additionally, Sweden is one of the world leaders working on harnessing the power of waves. At the University of Uppsala, Sweden is developing “wave power” which converts waves into 4x as much energy as solar power in the same amount of time, with no waste and no emissions.
4 – Finland
Finland is experiencing a remarkable recovery from industrialization, using initiatives to clean up water and air quality in industrial areas, and practicing land preservation. Bravo as Finland has managed to reverse deforestation. The country’s forests are now growing at a greater rate than they are being deforested, showing an environmental gain even with the annual timber harvest. Finland can also be attributed with starting the United Nation’s Environmental Program (UNEP) Task Force for Sustainable Building and Construction, which looks not only at the sustainability of the building, but of the resources and process used to construct it.
5 – Costa Rica
With 5% of the world’s biodiversity contained in one country, Costa Rica has always been on the forefront of environmental conservation. Did you know that a full quarter of the nation is devoted to park preservation? That helps the country score high on the EPI list. Couple their conservation efforts with the fact that Costa Rica uses hydroelectric power in 80% of the country, and add on their 5% gas tax which funds environmental programs, and Costa Rica comes in fifth.
6 – Austria
It’s very impressive that Austria’s environmental conservation measures are enforced by all levels of government, from federal to municipal authorities. For example, waste disposal is a highly regulated department encompassing everything from individual waste to corporate chemical, air and agricultural pesticide pollution. Water quality and forest preservation, are extremely high on Austria’s list of priorities, thus the quality level for Austria’s lakes and rivers is among the highest in the world. The development of Austria’s National Protective Forest Plan has also helped in keeping the nation’s natural beauty pristine.
7 – New Zealand
New Zealand‘s relatively small population in relation to land mass has helped preserve this nation’s natural resources. While automotive emissions and industrial pollutants are still problematic, New Zealand is working hard to develop restrictive legislation and alternative energy sources. The nation was host to the 2008 World Environment Day, and has developed the Environmental Risk Management Authority, which regulates the introduction of non-native species and environmental components so as not to threaten New Zealand’s pristine atmosphere.
8 – Latvia
The Baltics weigh in. By monitoring and reducing water pollution, Latvia’s salmon crop and freshwater bodies are all in the range of “good.” Taken steps toward improvement, Lativia has begun dismantling pollutive farms to reduce fertilizer and insecticide chemicals and allow room for the return of natural forests. Since obtaining freedom from the Soviet Union 1990, Lativa has decreased stationary pollution by 46% and wastewater by 44%, devoting a major portion of environmental funds to water treatment and energy conservation techniques.
9 – Colombia
Beating Costa Rica, Colombia is home to 10% of the world’s species, giving the country a wealth of ecological diversity. While Colombia has had problems in the past concerning deforestation, the detrimental effects of the coca trade, and political strife involving their natural oil deposits, these factors have served to motivate Colombia towards energy conservation and new, less politically tumultuous resources. Colombia has also begun programs for the cultivation of natural parks that support the growth of native medicinal plants with preserves such as the Orito Igni-Ande Medicinal Flora Sanctuary, a 10,626 hectare preserve.
10 – France
The French government is very aware of the problem of climate change. Their strict environmental protection measures are incorporated into the national Constitution and reviewed every year with the eventual goal of 54 million tons of saved C02 by 2010. France is one of the few in the Kyoto agreement to cut such a large amount of emissions so quickly. The country’s laws are comprehensive, covering every layer of production from supplier to producer to consumer. This has helped make France the number one producer of renewable energy sources in the EU, 78% of its energy being nuclear powered, which in turn has reduced nitrogen oxide and other hazardous emissions by 70%.
By Jodi Summers
It’s no secret that office space in Los Angeles has taken a huge hit. Take comfort in knowing we are not alone. Vacancy rates rose as demand fell, and rents followed. Globally office market rents decreased by 10%, the last time prices fell all around the world was 2003. What made this office downtown unique, according to a recent report Cushman & Wakefield, was that. “no market escaped and rents were down in every region; a trend not previously seen.”
Globally, Asia Pacific recorded the steepest decline year on year, with rents falling on average by 16%. Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo recorded falls of 45%, 35%
and 21% respectively, but they weren’t the worst locations. Ho Chi Minh City saw the largest compression in rents with a fall of 53%.
In terms of rental performance the America saw rents decline by 7% during 2009. South America saw rental levels move down by 5%, while in North America they fell further, by 8%. Midtown Manhattan remained the most expensive office location in the Americas region during 2009, but rents dropped 4% over the year. Thanks to rising exchange rates, the Brazilian cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo became the second and third most expensive locations in the Americas, surpassing the cities previously in second and third place Boston and New York (Downtown).
Los Angeles did not fare nearly as well year as occupier demand slowed and vacancy levels increased. We saw lease rates drop 16%, averaging $51.68 per square foot annually. Our economic recovery is so fresh; rents will still remain low for the first half of this year, but should start to improve in the third quarter.
Overall, North American rental performance was more uniform with Canada, US and Mexico easing down by between 2% and 14% in 2009.
On a more optimistic note, South America and the Middle East & Africa showed the best performance in terms of rents, recording rental falls of 5% respectively. Argentina was the only South American country to record double digit falls.
The great irony comes in South Africa, which actually saw rising lease rates. South Africa supported regional performance in the Middle East & Africa.
Western Europe recorded an annual decline of 11%, but was peppered by more series declines in some major areas. Madrid, Central London, Dublin and Oslo recorded rental declines in excess of 20%, as these markets were particularly hard hit from the fallout of the financial crisis. Office rents in Central & Eastern Europe did not hold up nearly as well, with many cities recording rental declines of more than 20% – Kyiv and Moscow were the hardest hit. Kyiv fell a whopping 52% while Moscow lease rates dropped 33%.
The top three most expensive locations remained constant, Tokyo was ranked number one in the world, while London West End moved into second place. Hong Kong fell
from first to third position.
And now, good news – most global economies are expected to see positive GDP growth in 2010. Globally, rents are anticipated to reach their low point by midyear. Tenants will still retain the upper hand as vacancy rates remain high and demand remains low.
Of course, the recovery will vary from region to region and from city to city. Expect stabilization in the final quarter.
GREENING BUILDINGS THE EASY WAY – THE ICC GREEN BUILDING OVERLAY
By Jodi Summers
More green building codes anyone? Sure, there are already several green building codes in use today – LEED, Energy Star, NAHB Green, Green Globes, BREEM and the latest, and perhaps most practical to join the crowd is ICC – the of International Code Council.
FYI, you’ve walked through hundreds of International Code Council respecting properties. Most U.S. cities, counties and states that adopt building codes choose the International Codes developed by the International Code Council. As the ICC already has such a huge fan base, they’ve decided to have their input into green building codes > a.k.a. IGCC.
The objective of this new project is to develop a Green Building Code for traditional and high-performance buildings that is consistent and coordinated with the ICC family of Codes and Standards.
“Congratulations on taking such an important step to ensure the creation of such a code system. We are pleased to support this effort in any way possible,” USGBC President Richard Fedrizzi stated publicly, throwing in a compliment to the Code Council for “undertaking a collaborative approach to this important work.”
A bit of insight: the International Code Council, a membership association dedicated to building safety and fire prevention, develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools.
Being the progressive state that we are, California, has already adopted a green building code, which is incorporated into the template the ICC has come up with for the rest of the country.
“California continues to lead the nation and I commend the hard work of the Building Standards Commission to adopt the first-in-the-nation statewide green building standards,” proudly observed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The objective of the ICC code will be to raise the bottom line, giving all buildings a greener baseline. LEED, in contrast, is a bolder standard, providing innovative and more challenging ways to reduce green house gas emissions, materials usage, enhance energy efficiency, and all other good green things.
An ICC green code will make politicians, building inspectors and code officials comfortable with adopting and utilizing I-Codes as the basis for building regulations. By adopting an ICC code and augmenting it with what some of the greener cities like Santa Monica, Berkeley, Sacramento and West Hollywood are doing, municipalities will not have to reinvent the code wheel when looking to implement green building practices.
Wisely, the ICC Green Building Code is an overlay that can integrate with the I-codes that already exist in most jurisdictions.
10 GREEN BUILDING STUDIES OF INTEREST TO YOU
by Jodi Summers
We are always bringing you statics and reports – now we thought we’d bring you a succinct collection. Recently The Green Economy Post highlighted 10 noteworthy green building studies. We’d like to share highlights with you as well as the appropriate links so you can dig deeper. Enjoy and be green…
Global Green Building Trends: Market Growth and Perspectives from Around the World.
Research conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction Analytics regarding the global green building industry details the market trends and activities driving green building growth worldwide. The new research presented in the report indicates that green building has become a global phenomenon, with 53% of respondents expecting to be dedicated to green on over 60% of their projects in the next five years.
Reshaping Municipal and County Laws to Foster Green Building, Energy Efficiency, and Renewable Energy
credited to Edna Sussman – Hoguet Newman Regal & Kenney LLP
The efficient use of energy in the built environment has been recognized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many other experts to offer a potential greater than any other sector to reduce CO2 emissions using mature cost effective technologies. Many governmental units and professional organizations have committed to a goal of carbon neutrality in buildings by 2030. The paper offers an outline of how local governments can have a critical positive impact on global warming and on meeting these goals by creating a receptive legal environment and enacting mandates that foster green buildings, energy efficiency, and renewable energy both in government operations and by the general population.
Using Mandates and Incentives to Promote Sustainable Construction and
Presented by the Social Science Research Network, this report emphasizes that timely, meaningful movement toward sustainability in the U.S. building industry requires state-level legislation that promotes, and sometimes even mandates, green building standards at the regional and local levels.
Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Dollars & Cents of Green Retrofits
This joint study by Deloitte and Charles Lockwood that shows there is substantial statistical evidence that green buildings are better for the environment than conventional buildings. Many forward-thinking companies are realizing that green buildings can be better for business, too. Green buildings offer their owners and tenants a number of bottom-line benefits, including reductions in water and energy use and costs; opportunities with respect to tax credits, permitting, and other regulatory incentives; and greater worker productivity and satisfaction, improved brand image, and better community relations.
Cascadia Value of Green Building Study
This report by the Cascadia Region Green Building Council, the Vancouver Valuation Accord and Cushman & Wakefield is a tool to help bridge the gap in understanding between the green building and financial communities. It is a study of office buildings in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, BC and identifies how high-performance green features and systems can increase the value of commercial buildings. The report outlines how value was achieved and how sustainable attributes impact costs, savings, investment income, and capital value.
Energy Efficiency Retrofits for Commercial and Public Buildings
Presented by Pike Research, this paper focuses on the energy efficiency retrofit market, which recently received a major boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The paper observes that the largest potential for long term, sustained growth in commercial building retrofits lies in the private commercial space. Compared to conventional space, high-performance green building space is vacant less often and commands premium prices, leading commercial building owners to adopt green retrofits as a market differentiator.
The Green Building Revolution: Addressing and Managing Legal Risks and Liabilities
Harvard Law School Environmental Law and Policy Clinic – As green building expands from the exception to the rule, certain legal risks are inevitable. For building green to become a standard business practice, parties involved in project construction and management – owners, buyers, tenants, design professionals (architects, engineers, and consultants), contractors, and subcontractors – must become familiar with the legal risks and liabilities associated with green building, as well as strategies to minimize them. This white paper addresses the current movement toward green building, the increasing number of mandates requiring it, and the benefits and costs associated with building green; analyzes the legal risks and potential liabilities to those involved in green building; and concludes with practical recommendations for minimizing such risks and liabilities.
Green Building: Assessing the Risks–Feedback from the Construction
Marsh, the world’s leading insurance broker and risk advisor, reports lays out the concerns that building owners, contractors, and design firm executives are most concerned about with regards to green buildings. They include risks that may be associated with these projects, including potential financial exposures, uncertainty about evolving regulatory standards and legal issues, validating the qualifications of
consultants and subcontractors, and assessing the long-term performance of green building materials, among other potential issues in green design and construction.
The International Facility Management Association Green Practices Study
This IFMA study involves the measurement of attitudes and behavior of facility managers in relation to implementing sustainability initiatives at their organizations.
Overcoming the Social and Psychological Barriers to Green Building
This University of Michigan article argues that environmental progress in the building design and construction industry will continue to stall if the significant social and psychological barriers that remain are not addressed. After surveying the three levels of barriers—individual, organizational, and institutional—the article concludes with seven strategies for overcoming them.
The workers on the top girders can see the earth’s rotation.
CHINA’S OFFICE PROPERTY MARKETS ARE ABOUT TO EXPLODE!
By Jodi Summers
China’s secondary and tertiary markets are beginning to play a greater and greater role in the country’s real estate market, and analysts are speculating that China’s property market could quadruple in size by 2020.
The information comes courtesy of a report from at Jones Lang LaSalle titled China40: The Rising Urban Stars report.
“China’s Tier II and Tier III cities are dynamic centers of economic development and continued growth,” says Michael Klibaner, head of research Shanghai. “Massive infrastructure investment makes these markets increasingly accessible at a time when interest in China has shifted from being export oriented towards a focus on the domestic market.”
Analyzed in the report were the 40 top Tier II and Tier III cities which will be a strong future investment value. Each city was further analyzed for it real estate strengths. For office, Tianjon, Chongqing and Nanjong made the list; in retail Changsha, Wuhan and Wenzhou; and in Logistics Chengdu, Qingdao and Zhengzhou.
“The future evolution of China’s cities and their real estate markets will be driven by a rich combination of factors that are strongly influenced by government policy,” the report states. These policies focus on urbanization, with plans in place to see the city population explode to 850 million people by 2020. “The government’s ideal end vision of the urbanization process is a country wide network of environmentally sensitive cities each with their own unique competitive advantages and strong trading connections.”
China’s grade A office supply is roughly the size of Washington, DC’s entire supply, averaging 39.4 million square feet by the end of the year. But by 2011, that supply is expected to expand to 68.9 million square feet, with half the increase due to development projects in the Tier II and Tier III cities. The demand in these cities is being created by real estate advisors, insurance services and the banking sector.
JLL lists Dalian, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shenyang, Wuhan, Tianjin, Nanjing and Chongqing as having the greatest potential to become robust office hubs.
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