California’s Title 24 Raises the Bar on Energy Efficiency



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.

ENERGY STAR® National Building Competition for the Real World

Bob Best


Posted by:
Bob Best
Energy and Sustainability Services


Who really cares about the World Cup?

The truly important competition, the EPA’s ENERGY STAR National Building Competition (NBC), is kicking off and can have a real impact on something we all care about … the Real World (you know, our planet).

Commercial buildings waste, on average, about 30% of the energy they consume.  The NBC creates an incentive for building owners and managers to implement efficiency initiatives.

This year marks the first time the EPA has invited groups of five or more buildings to compete as a team in the annual ENERGY STAR® National Building Competition: Team Challenge.  More than 5,500 buildings and 100 teams will face off in the NBC.  Participants will measure and track their monthly energy consumption using the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager® tool.

In April 2015, the EPA will recognize the individual and team competitors that demonstrate the greatest percentage-based reduction in energy and water use. The EPA will also recognize the best-preforming building in each category, as well as all individual and team competitors who reduce energy or water use by 20% or more.

I am proud to say that JLL has 26 properties on our NBC team, and we intend to win.

The Ultimate ‘Green’ Office is No Office At All

Bob Best


Posted by:
Bob Best
Energy and Sustainability Services

Well, I took the plunge six months ago into the growing wilderness of virtual officing.

Surprisingly, it’s one of the smartest things I have done.  And, every day I realize it’s one of the greenest things I have done.

Once you clean out your personal space at the office, you realize you can work anywhere.  You are liberated.  It’s a mindset change with immense implications.

First, dump the paper.  It’s an anchor. The more you have, the less mobile you are.  Go electronic.  Organize your files.

Second, get the right technology to support mobility.  I like a combination of ear phones and microphone, so I can block out exterior noise, listen to music and make phone calls – all with the same piece of technology.

Third, get a good backpack.  It’s now your office.  Organize it and make sure you carry all the technology you need with you.

Why is all this green?

I don’t need to commute anywhere to go my work.  My work is wherever I am.  There is no gasoline being combusted to get somewhere just to sit.  I don’t need an infrastructure of lights, conditioned air, etc. that goes unused most of the time.

I am now a man of the world.  It’s not that I don’t have an office; the entire world is my office.

I can’t think of a better place to work.

How Green are energy reforms in Mexico?




Posted by:
Adrián Martínez Espitia
Energy and Sustainability Services, Latin America

In 1962, Thomas Khun established “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” about the occurrence of models substitution, where new models simply become better than previous ones.

During recent years Mexico has been approving law reforms that foster another type of investment and take advantage of other types of resources that had not been previously explored. In 2008, Mexico took an important step by issuing the “Law for the Exploitation of Renewable Energy and the Energy Transition Financing”. Since then, Mexico has been intensively approving reforms that have created attractive business opportunities for companies. In 2012 the General Law for Climate Change was also published, and contemplates a Greenhouse Gas Reduction by 20% for 2020 and by 50% for 2050 in relation to the baseline. These two laws have also set another goal in order to generate 35% of electricity from clean energy sources for 2024. However, Mexico’s sources of non-fossil fuels represent about 17% of electricity consumption (mostly hydro). Therefore, the question remains, how would the renewable energy portfolio duplicate in just 10 years?

Historically, the energy sector in Mexico has been controlled by government companies for both extraction, refinery and sale of fossil fuels as well as generation, distribution and sale of electricity. The first has been monopolized for almost 80 years by (PEMEX), they were the only ones allowed to extract, process, distribute and sail of oil and gas. The electricity sector and its company (CFE) had also controlled generation, distribution and sail since 1933, nevertheless, some changes have occurred in last years.

In December 2013, Mexican government made a historic important step by approving an Energy Reform. This reform consists in the allowance of private investment for the exploitation of oil and gas as well as for electricity generation. During June 2014, the bylaws will be reviewed in the Mexican Congress. These bylaws in the weeks ahead will certainly cause an energy revolution and change the market competition. Regarding hydrocarbons, new investments are pointing mainly toward the extraction of oil in deep oceans and shale gas in several rich areas, especially, in the North of Mexico.

The bylaws are also contemplating the creation of an electricity generation market, where the State shall not lose power of the control of the national electric system and the exclusiveness of transmission and distribution of electrical energy as an important public service. With this, CFE and private companies under government supervision, shall boost the national electric system that therefore, would decrease electric tariffs. The property of generation plans and the transmission and distribution networks will remain owned by CFE.

The new electricity market will also implement The Clean Energy Certificates (CELs) that seek to promote a better electricity generation from clean energy that would, in most cases, be related to renewable energies.

But, how will it work? The Government will establish a yearly minimal electricity generation from clean sources, which shall be covered by either generators or distributors. If generators or distributors cannot cover it, they must buy the number of Certificates that help to comply with such obligation. If they don’t comply, either generator or distributor will have to pay a significant fine to authorities that would represent the Certificates maximum price.

Renewable energy plants can obtain more resources by selling two goods:

  1. The electricity that they generate and sell to the grid, or to any other consumer out of the electric grid.
  2. The Certificates that represent environmental rights and its benefits, materialized in commercial credits.

Going back to the title of this article, we could conclude that Energy Reforms contemplate the exploitation of fossil fuels in a massive scale, and will certainly pollute more and not be green. However, established and ambitious goals have been set and Mexico became the first developing country to issue a Climate Change Law that will bring cleaner energy. In addition, CELs in Mexico will make clean technologies financially attractive and will marginally penalize pollutant generation plants.

We’re Bringing Amsterdam to Chicago



Posted by:
Bob Best
Energy and Sustainability Services


I was in Amsterdam last year and stunned by the incredible number of bike riders.

Looking at U.S. cities, with our car traffic and parking problems, any effort to match a bike-friendly city, like Amsterdam, is a pedal stroke in the right direction.

This week in Chicago our “Bike Commuter Challenge” and, each year, we seem to be getting more cyclists and more attention. What a wonderful thing, especially on top of the phenomenal success of Chicago’s Divvy bike-sharing program.

BisNow asked me (below) to support the cause, which I was happy to do.


Photo courtsey of BisNow and Bob Best