The top 5 sustainability measures
How they work, save energy, and can be financed for commercial real estate projects through C-PACE!
Not only are our team experts in the funding of commercial real estate projects, they’re also well versed in implementing high performance building and sustainability measures that save energy – and money – long term. Below is a topline look at some of the key energy saving measures that Nuveen Green Capital helps fund through C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing for new development, retrofit, or recapitalization projects.
- HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning)
High efficiency HVAC equipment is one of the top energy savings measures that can be employed in commercial real estate projects as heating and cooling account for 40% of overall energy usage in buildings.
Older buildings have traditionally relied upon separate heating and cooling systems through a gas boiler and “chiller,” both of which emit a significant amount of carbon. As mentioned in Climate Change News, “With inventive heat pump technology, we combine these two systems into one for simultaneous heating and cooling with heat recovery, offering a high-efficiency, fully electric system with the potential to be a zero-emissions solution when paired with renewable energy sources. These fully electric heat-pump systems recover and repurpose heat and are 350% more efficient than most gas boiler systems.”Recent example: HVAC upgrade for the DuPont Building
Nuveen Green Capital funded $7M in C-PACE financing for the historic DuPont Building in Wilmington, Delaware. The building was overhauled and converted to a mixed-use hotel, retail, business, and luxury apartment complex, complete with HVAC upgrades, including a replacement of the chiller plant, boiler, and cooling tower. These measures, along with the other upgrades, are projected to save the property owner over $14M over the lifespan of the equipment.
- Solar Panels
Solar panels are considered one of the most efficient ways to power commercial real estate buildings. Solar cells, also known as Photovoltaic or “PV” cells, convert sunlight into energy. There are three types of solar panels: “grid tied,” “off grid” and “hybrid,” which can be installed in various locations including a rooftop, awning, or carport of a building. Depending on the project, all solar panels are excellent choices as they require little maintenance, are noiseless, and offer significant return on investment via substantial savings on energy bills and frequently accretive renewable energy incentives and tax benefits. Beyond that, solar panels offer clean, renewable energy by relying upon the sun, rather than fossil fuels.
Recent example: Solar array at Hotel Marcel
Nuveen Green Capital recently provided $7MM in C-PACE financing sustainability initiatives for an adaptive reuse project that employed solar technology: the nation’s first Net Zero Hotel Marcel in New Haven, CT. The hotel’s significant solar array, with more than 1,000 panels – both on the roof and on canopies installed in the parking lot – will produce about 550K kilowatt hours of energy per year, which will be stored in batteries on-site.
The Solar Energies Industries Association (SEIA) projects, “Solar energy will constitute 30% of all U.S. electricity generation by 2030. To reach this target, the massive growth the solar industry realized over the last decade will need to continue for the next decade.”
- LED Lighting
LED (Light Emitting Diodes) lighting offers the most energy efficient, reliable lighting for buildings. Not only does it offer significant savings, LED lights last far longer than incandescent lights, have a reduced carbon footprint, and require less maintenance for property owners. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy reports that LEDs use up to 90% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
Recent example: Lighting at TIAA Headquarters, New York, NY
Last year, Nuveen Green Capital funded $28M in C-PACE financing toward the retrofit of our parent company, TIAA’s LEED Gold-certified, state-of-the-art office headquarters at 730 Third Avenue. With lighting being a crucial element of any office, this sustainability measure was a significant focus of the project. $5.9M of the total financing funded LED lighting upgrades, including the installation of self-tinting ViewGlass windows, which were installed to save energy, as well as “to integrate the outdoors-in, creating an inspiring space for fresh thinking."
Fun fact about #2 and #3!
Graham Higgins, CEM, LEED AP BD+C Certified Transaction Manager for Commercial Energy Efficiency at Nuveen Green Capital, shares “Many people don’t realize that solar panels and LEDs are basically the inverse of one another and utilize the same underlying technology, i.e., solar panels efficiently convert light from the sun to produce electricity, while LEDs efficiently use electricity to produce light.”
- Building envelope
The building’s envelope is a crucial piece of the building’s sustainability as it separates and shields the internal environment from the external environment, via the roof, doors, windows, floors, and walls. With advances in sustainability, these elements have become even more efficient at protecting and maintaining the indoor climate of a building – which, in turn saves energy and money.Recent example: Building envelope at The Workforce Training Center
Nuveen Green Capital funded $6.8M in C-PACE financing to convert a former hat manufacturing facility in Norwalk, CT to become a high tech “Smart Building,” that uses technology to enable efficient and economical use of resources, while creating a safe and comfortable environment for occupants. As part of the project, an external EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finish System) was installed. This system is basically a new outer building shell, which dramatically improves the building’s heating and cooling efficiency.
- Water conservation
According to the EPA, commercial and institutional buildings account for 17% of municipal water demand. Low flow water fixtures, including faucets, toilets and showers, reduce the amount of water used through the use of an aerator, which maintains the water pressure by mixing air into the water stream.
Recent example: Water conservation for The Oliver
Nuveen Green Capital funded $12.7MM in C-PACE financing for The Oliver, a new construction, mixed-use project comprised of 93 apartment units and 41,000 square feet of office space that will be located at 2711-2719 Georgia Avenue, NW, adjacent to Howard University’s main campus in Washington, DC. Among the sustainability measures being implemented, the building’s water savings and efficiency were of particular importance to the property owner.