Brandywine Realty Trust is the company in charge of developing and filling up the 30th street construction building between Chestnut and Walnut. The lot is interesting given that it is Penn property but is being developed into a private commercial/residential area. This lot will be the new gateway to Penn, to University City, to west of Downtown Philadelphia.
So what does Brandywine Realty Trust have to do with sustainability? Brandywine is the middleman between sustainability and tenants. There are roughly 5 million building in the US that is about 70 billion square feet of space. So sustainability in one building can influence another and another and eventually maybe 5 million can be influenced. So how does this start? 5 years ago, the realty industry has no interest in sustainability. Conferences and tradeshows are more focus on style, trend, and of course money. But now, things are changing.
Business space and residential areas are going sustainable. Suppliers are able to provide the technology to make a building sustainable. Recycling, water, xeriscaping, pest management, and even transportation for buildings can all become sustainable. Is going sustainable more expensive? Well no. Is it harder to find sustainable material? No. Are there more benefits of going sustainable? Yes, but let us not get into the topic. So logically every building should have become sustainable. But reality is no. So why?
Well, there are still work that needs to be done. Communication, education, behavior, as well as technology are all needed to bring all buildings in US to become sustainable. In an average office table, there is a computer, a clock, a radio/ipod, a laptop, cellphone, printer and probably an electric pencil sharpener. Now how many of these electronics are actually unplug when people leave for work? How many office tables are there in the US? On average, 40% of energy used in a building are plug load energy. That is a lot of energy.
How about another example, in an residential area, an average person brush his or her teeth twice a day. There are two types of people, those who leave the water on and those who turn off the water when they brush their teeth. An average person brush their teeth for two minutes or four minutes a day and that is about 8 gallons of water that is going directly to the sink for those who leave their water on. That is a lot of water.
How about waste? In Philly, it is by law to recycle. But how many office actually recycle. How about transportation? How many people drive his or her car by him or herself daily?
There is lots to do to become sustainable. How do we do it? The answer is already in everyone’s brain. But can we get everyone to think and act the sustainable way? Can we get every American to turn off water when they brush their teeth? Information is powerful. In an average 4 story colonial home, there are 100 light bulbs. To change from incandescent to LED can bring about $25 annual saving. That is $2500 a year. Now tell this to your neighbors and see how fast they change their light bulbs.
So In conclusion, sustainable buildings should be a talk that took place yesterday. Since we are behind we need to come up with a plan to bring us up to date. The plan is simple, well at least on paper. Measure, Monitor, Verify, Plan, Implement, Monitor. Benchmark a building’s consumption. Monitor and determine if that is the optimal. Verify that the technology is optimal or best possible. Plan to see if there are any changes needed, Implement the change. Finally Monitor again against the benchmark. Now go out there and apply the solution. But again, the plan is simple…on paper at least.
Brad A Molotsky is the Executive VP of Brandywine Realty Trust and a sustainability nerd.