Introduced as the man who “literally changed the retail landscape in Southern California,“ Rick Caruso opened a recent Urban Land Institute conference with thoughts on the economics of sustainable development. Up next, Mayor Bill Bogaard talked about milestones in Pasadena’s Green City Action Plan.
Caruso noted he hasn’t been successful yet in getting into Pasadena, and mentioned in an aside to Bogaard that Glendale [The Americana at Brand] would serve as a draw in the interim. He also said city building incentives have to work for developers: “Cities need to figure out how their bureaucracies can support construction”; and cited the helix design of The Americana’s parking structure, which reduces vehicle idling and improves traffic flow: “Through design we can solve problems.”
Both men pointed to achievements in their respective realms. The conference sessions that followed covered the sustainability/economics balance and energy efficiency. Several speakers talked about lowering buildings’ fixed costs (primarily in the area of energy use) through design, incentives, and planning. Downtown Vancouver’s GHG reductions through low-carbon energy generation, accelerated building retrofits, and a focus on transit corridors, was the focus of one morning breakout session. Cal Tech’s impressive initiatives in net zero emissions and building retrofits were featured in another session.
Other ULI sessions also focused on installation of alternative energy systems. The numbers in the case studies presented made sense to property owners because they reduced long-term fixed costs and improved ROI. This Slate post discusses an Urban Green Council report that reached the same conclusion.
Making a business and bottom line case for sustainability in new construction, new transit corridors, and large-scale urban core retrofits is a major theme of the real estate/development industries in 2013.