Are Happy Employees Good Business?

Bob Best

 

Posted by:
Bob Best
Energy and Sustainability Services

More organizations seem to be addressing issues like employee happiness and well-being.

There is even a “Wellness Building Standard®” that organizations are using to design and operate their workplaces in a more employee-supportive way.

It may be nice that employees like their employers, but is to good business?

Apparently so.

In an 8/6/14 article in Triple Pundit, Raz Godelnik provides a great overview of recent research that suggests a very strong connection between employee satisfaction and financial performance.

She cites a study by Alex Edmans and Chendi Zhang that found “employee satisfaction is associated with positive abnormal returns in countries with high labor market flexibility.”

These same researchers have compared firms noted as “best places to work,” and found significantly higher stock returns.

It appears that investing in employee happiness through programs and workplace improvements is more than good-hearted … it’s good business.

 

Quiet! Please!

Bob-Best-85w

 

 

Posted by:
Bob Best
Energy and Sustainability Services

Why aren’t open offices as productive as they could be?

The main culprit is noise.

Great article by Maria Konnikova in The New Yorker (1/7/14)

“In laboratory settings, noise has been repeatedly tied to reduced cognitive performance. The psychologist Nick Perham, who studies the effect of sound on how we think, has found that office commotion impairs workers’ ability to recall information, and even to do basic arithmetic.”

And, blocking out the noise with earphones and music is not the answer.  That, too, interferes with mental acuity.

As many of us working virtually in coffee shops and public places, the same problem applies.  Between public announcements, piped-in music and bad acoustics, we are fighting a losing battle.

I thought noise-cancelling earphones were the answer, but apparently not.

The answer is for office planners and the people who want us to visit their places and buy their stuff (e.g. coffee) to make these environments worker-friendly. That means making them quieter.  Please!

Pulling Together the Battery Puzzle

Bob-Best-85w

 

Posted by:
Bob Best
Energy and Sustainability Services

I recently saw a wonderful presentation on the new Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) by its director, George Crabtree.

Since the ability to efficiently store electric power opens so many doors for using alternative energies, it’s about time we pulled together our best minds and organizations to tackle the problem in a coordinated way.  That is what the JCESR is and, as George clearly outlined, it is a “new paradigm” with a lofty goal:

“Transform transportation and the electricity grid with next generation energy storage at five times the performance and one fifth the cost.”

While the JCESR will be located in Chicago, it is more of a virtual organization, pulling together researchers and scientists from 14 organizations throughout the country, including national laboratories, universities and companies.  It’s a unique approach to a global issue.

The effort breaks into four steps:  1. Discovery science – looking at new materials and processes.  2. Battery design.  3. Prototype research. 4) Manufacturing collaboration.  It is an organized effort to combine theory and practicality to bring game-changing solutions to the market.

Will it work?

Well, all the puzzle pieces seem to be on the same table, and the smartest puzzle solvers are all working together to put it all together.

I think success is inevitable.

Moving forward with LEED v4

Guerin

 

Posted by:
Carey Guerin
Energy and Sustainability Services

 

The cut-off date to test under the LEED v2009 material was June 15 and that deadline sparked action by many people to complete this career goal that most likely has been on their to-do list for a while.

A recent study shows that demand for LEED professionals and the knowledge they bring to the work place has increased 46% in the last year.

I enjoyed sending out all the congratulations emails and witnessing property teams and regional cross-functional teams unite to accomplish the goal together.

Susan Pai, general manager of Pasadena Towers in California saw the deadline as a an opportunity to motivate her property team to get the credential. “It was fun to study as a team (brought out our competitive as well as supportive qualities). Making the most of the resources here at the building, whether it’s efficient energy use, water use, or use of materials is an important duty we have as managers of the building. Getting the LEED credential confirmed the practices we have in place and exposed us to other options available to us. It also solidified the idea that sustainability touches all aspects of our job in the real estate industry. Pasadena has passed aggressive green building legislation regarding noise pollution and the LEED principles tie in to this effort. Pasadena Towers is a premium Class A building and while the building has not pursued official LEED certification, we can still operate the building with LEED principles in mind.” Her chief engineer agrees. Paul Powell, LEED AP O+M shared “The best way to create a team environment it to set a reasonably difficult task in front of them and then give them a very short deadline to complete it. It was fun and we all pitched in helping one another learn the material. With the importance of saving resources and having our buildings run as efficient as possible, the LEED information is a good tool in helping us all understand why we do what we do.”

JLL added LEED professionals globally to our ranks and more people went beyond their Green Associate credential and achieved an AP credential before the deadline.

Over 1460 LEED professionals on staff here at JLL have a credential they can point to that documents their green building knowledge. A valuable achievement personally for their career and for our building owners and occupiers benefiting from the green building knowledge they have been exposed to.

To all recently accredited LEED professionals, within JLL and outside of JLL, I say CONGRATULATIONS and I hope you enjoy your study-free summer (or winter for those down south)!

To those who didn’t meet the deadline, I wish you the best of luck studying the LEEDv4 material and encourage you to keep at it. It’s worth it.

 

 

California’s Title 24 Raises the Bar on Energy Efficiency

WayneAlldredge

 

Posted by:
Wayne Alldredge
Energy and Sustainability Services

Climate change is upon us. Whether you believe that describes Mother Nature or the political environment, climate change is definitely here. Effective July 1st, 2014, California Title 24 raised the minimum energy performance thresholds in non-residential buildings by 30% from the previous code cycle. This aggressive increase is a step towards California’s ultimate goal of building Net Zero Non-Residential Buildings by 2030. Many other states look towards California’s environmental standards as models for their own, so these standards could spread.

Over the last 30 years, the other 49 states have seen an increase in energy consumption per capita of about 50%. California with the largest economy, has stayed flat over the same period and ranks 47th in consumption per capita. So why the aggressive push to greater energy efficiency? According to the CEC, Californians will have a more stable electrical grid and save 711 GWh a year in non-residential buildings alone. In addition to the energy savings, a study of the last code change showed a reduction in life cycle costs to the buildings themselves. This can increase net operating income (NOI) which means energy savings is as good for business as it is for the environment. Several studies from the EPA, USGBC, BOMA and others show increased market value of efficient buildings.

To understand what the code change could mean to you, we have to first understand how it works. The latest Title 24 going into effect now is the 2013 code. It sets efficiency standards in California for commercial and residential construction in both new and existing buildings. If you engage in such construction, you may trigger the code and you will be required to meet various prescriptive requirements; furthermore, the California Green Building Code (CALGreen) thresholds also contain indoor air quality, water conservation, material and resource, and energy related minimum requirements. Early feedback suggest increases of approximately 15-25% for electrical costs and 15% for related mechanical costs depending on the scope and status of the existing space.

For CALGreen, the two triggers for code compliance in tenant improvements are:

  1. 1,000 square feet (sf) of additions; or,
  2. $200,000 valuation in alterations

For new buildings, there are 5 new forms that must be submitted during Design Review prior to getting your permit. What this means is that Title 24 requirements (and CalGreen for new buildings) need to be considered during the initial planning of a construction job and integrated throughout the entire process.

While there are many requirements that you need to be aware of if you do fall under Title 24, here are just a few, dramatically simplified, points to consider:

  • Will you have greater than 50kVA total load? There are electrical service requirements for sub-metering and separating services by load type.
  • Are you putting in Electric Vehicle Chargers? There are specific separation and sub-metering requirements for chargers.
  • Planning a TI in a building built prior to 1994 and valued at $150,000? You may be required to change all your plumbing fixtures – you will need to have compliant fixtures by 2019 anyway.
  •  Planning a job over 10,000sf? You’ll need a Third Party PE (Professional Engineer) to sign off.
  • Adding or changing HVAC or water heating? Third party Commissioning may be a requirement for you. (No, the contractor can’t do it anymore.)
  • Installing a new HVAC package unit? Look for 14 SEER, an economizer with alarm, and third party performance testing.
  • Thinking you need to relocate or remove a few lighting fixtures for that renovation? You may have to upgrade the entire area to dimmable, daylight sensing, automatically controlled lighting fixtures.
  • Building a new suite? Plan on putting those controls above on all lighting (including hallways and even your parking garage.)

Looking on the bright side of sustainability, commissioning lighting and HVAC systems should prevent rework and create a happier occupant. With better controls and higher efficiency equipment, the building will certainly be worth more as well. Finally, what if you could operate the same building for a dollar a square foot less than the one you built last year? What would that do for your bottom line? There’s a lot of real financial value in being a good corporate citizen (even if it is forced on you by code!) Perhaps we should embrace these changes for the long term value they bring and really start focusing on the returns rather than solely on the first cost of construction.