Voluntary Programs for Low-Carbon Building and City Transformations

Knowledge generation and sharing programs

1000 Superintendents (New York, United States, 2012)

This program is a cooperative effort between property managers, 32BJ members, union staff, and superintendents. The program seeks to raise the awareness of sustainable building use and operation at superintendent level. It is then hoped that these superintendents will share their knowledge with building owners, residents and other building operators. The program is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labour.

Property managers send their supers to a rigorous 40-hour core course that covers all aspects of green building operations and maintenance. Upon satisfactorily completing both written and field tests each super will be awarded green building certifications by the Building Performance Institute.

Website: www.training.32bjfunds.com

Better Building Partnership (City of Sydney, Australia, 2011)

Collaboration launched by the by the Sydney City Council in 2011—building on examples in London and Toronto—that brings together the Council and the City of Sydney’s 14 major property owners. It aims to reduce the carbon emissions and wastes produced by the buildings owned these major property owners, and their energy and water consumption. Together these property owners own over 50 per cent of all commercial property in Sydney’s central business district. The arrangement requires its participants to reduce their (existing) buildings’ carbon emissions in 2030 by 70 per cent as of 2006 emissions (Better Buildings Partnership, 2013).

Participating property owners in the Partnership sign a letter to the Mayor of Sydney pledging that they will make improvements to their buildings to achieve this goal. In return the City of Sydney keeps these property owners involved about future policies so that they can plan their property portfolios accordingly. It further seeks to reduce regulatory barriers these property owners face in retrofitting their property, as well as financial barriers they face in doing so. In addition, the City of Sydney highlights the ‘beyond compliance’ performance and leadership of the participants in the arrangement in various media outlets, including a website that is dedicated to the arrangement. The arrangement builds on self-reporting of performance data by its participants, and makes this data publicly available through the arrangement’s website and annual reports (e.g., Better Buildings Partnership, 2013). Compliance data is relatively easy to verify as it relates to (predominantly) energy consumption information provided by utilities and energy suppliers. From interviews with participants it further became clear that the small group of participants results in considerable peer pressure to comply with the program (int. 44). More recently the arrangement has begun to focus on barriers faced by office tenants in improving their urban sustainability behaviour. By linking and seeking to overcome barriers faced by office tenants and the property owners of their buildings the arrangement hopes to create synergies to further accelerate the improvement of urban sustainability in Sydney’s central business district (Blundell, 2014).

Website: www.sydneybetterbuilding.com.au

Better Buildings Challenge (United States, 2011)

Collaboration launched by the Federal Government in 2011 that brings together the Federal government, state and local government, educational organisations, housing providers, and firms (mostly large corporations, including manufacturing, retailers and fast-food companies). Participants commit to a least a 20 per cent improvement over the course of ten years participants and for doing so receive rewards such as Federal government recognition, media attention, financial and technical assistance from the United States Federal Government, and best-practice sharing through a peer network. It is part of the larger Better Buildings Initiative that seeks to catalyse private sector investment in commercial building upgrades. The arrangement was expanded to include multifamily housing in 2013; and expanded to include water efficiency in 2013 as well.

Because no mandatory building energy efficiency requirements apply in the United States the (minimum) 20 per cent increase target de facto asks for beyond compliance performance. Because the baseline against which this performance is to be achieved is set at participant level—their energy consumption in one of the three years before they entered the collaboration—the performance of the participant base as a whole cannot be compared; the arrangement thus seems to award initially poor performing firms (who will find it easy to make improvements) over initially well performing firms (who will find it much more complicated to make improvements). The arrangement builds on self-assessment, and verified by the arrangements administrator—in practice the United States Department of Energy. Participants are strongly advised to use the Energy Star Portfolio Manager—a reporting tool within the Energy Star arrangement discussed above—or other reporting tools approved by the arrangement administrator. At the base, energy and water performance data provided by the utilities are at the base of this process. The arrangement requires yearly submission of performance data, but recommends participants to provide data semi-annually.

Website: www.energy.gov/eere/better-buildings

Chicago Green Office Challenge (Chicago, United States, 2008)

Collaboration launched by the City of Chicago Council in 2008 in collaboration with the international cities network ICLEI. It challenges office users to reduce energy and water consumption, to produce fewer wastes, to implement sustainable procurement practice, and to commute by public transport, bicycle or foot. To ensure that participants take action the collaboration organises office-to-office challenges: Participants use software to keep track of their own performance and the data they fill out are compared by the collaboration’s administrators—and made visible to other participants—to gain an understanding who is performing best (ICLEI, 2009). It is one of the first examples where ‘gamification’ is used to improve office tenants behaviour. The collaboration is sponsored by a major supplier of office products, Office Depot, and administered by the Delta Institute, a Chicago based non-profit.

The collaboration does not set minimum requirements to participants, but because no mandatory requirements are in place in the United States in terms of the energy performance of existing buildings and their users the collaboration de facto requires beyond compliance performance. In 2013 some 50+ office tenants were participating in the collaboration, achieving energy reductions of about 10 per cent (int. 186). It builds on self-assessment by participant, but data provided by participants is relatively easy to fact check as it predominantly relates to energy and water consumption data supplied by utilities. The collaboration contributes to carbon emission reduction the City of Chicago has set, and participants in the collaboration see financial rewards—reduced utility bills—and are provided with information on how to improve their urban sustainability behaviour and what other incentives are in place for them through the (members only) website where they have to fill out performance data. A yearly awarding ceremony, finally, puts the best performing participants in the spotlight—predominantly through the intensive media attention to city gives to this awarding ceremony.

Website: www.greenpsf.com

CitySwitch Green Office (Australia, 2010 Sydney, 2011 national)

Collaboration launched by the Sydney City Council in 2010 to bring together the Council and office tenants; due to its success it now is a national network (CitySwitch, 2014). It is administrated by local councils and state governments and serves as a platform for office tenants to learn about energy efficiency, share information, network, and showcase good practices. A yearly awarding ceremony recognises leading practice in different categories.

By participating in the network, office tenants come to agreements with councils about their future environmental performance. Commitment to the program implies that the participant voluntary undertake a set of energy actions and provide an annual report on their achievements. Specifically, tenants agree to meet a specific rating within the voluntary NABERS arrangement (discussed under certification and classification). The required rating for CitySwitch participants (4 stars under NABERS) approximates a modest beyond compliance performance with the Code for new office development (Steinfeld et al., 2011). Compliance with NABERS requirements is carried out by third party assessors. From interviews with CitySwitch administrators it was learnt that not meeting the agreed NABERS rating is however not penalised under the arrangement (int. 41). In return for participation in the arrangement, councils provide tenants with support to meet these goals. Certain Councils provide financial support to office tenants, while others facilitate meetings and ensure an ongoing supply and distribution of information. The larger CitySwitch organisation maintains a website that provides information to participants and non-participant, including case studies, best practices and information about other arrangements for improved urban sustainability in Australia. The website has a ‘member-only’ section that provides exclusive information to CitySwitch participants. More recently the arrangement has begun to focus on the interaction between tenants and landlords, and the barriers they face when seeking improved urban sustainability of existing office buildings. CitySwitch participants may use the promotional CitySwitch logo to highlight their leading practice.

Website: www.cityswitch.net.au

Climate Change Sector Agreements (State of South Australia, Australia, 2009)

Negotiated agreements between the Government of South Australia and business entities, industry sectors, community groups and regions. The arrangement is part of a larger Government of South Australia policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Relevant agreements for the current research project are those reached with the South Australian commercial property sector collaboration, with a property investment bank, and with the local cement sector (Government of SA, 2009).

The agreement with the commercial property sector collaboration (2009-2012), for instance, sought to promote participation of property owners in NABERS and to upgrade buildings to meet specific NABERS rating (NABERS is discussed under certification and classification). Both government and the sector collaboration set targets under the agreement. The sector collaboration was expected to develop a baseline report to give insight in NABERS ratings for commercial buildings in the Adelaide central business district, and to complete annual reports of greenhouse gas emissions of these buildings from 2008 onward. Government targets were to upgrade government owned office buildings with and area greater than 2,000 square meters in the Adelaide central business district to meet a NABERS 4 star rating; and to seek a 5 star NABERS rating for all new government leases with an area greater than 2,000 square meters in the Adelaide central business district (Government of SA, 2009). The former government target requires that government (as property owner) seeks to retrofit its property; the latter government target requires that private sector property owners retrofit their property when governments enter a new lease. The required 4 star rating under NABERS approximates a modest beyond compliance performance with the Code for new office development (Steinfeld et al., 2011). Compliance with NABERS requirements is carried out by third party assessors.

Website: www.sa.gov.au

Energy Leap (“Energiesprong”; Netherlands, 2010-2015)

Cluster of collaborations led by Platform 31, a quasi autonomous agency partly funded by government (it is a fusion of a number of knowledge institutes in the Netherland, see further: www.platform31.nl), bringing together the Ministry of Housing, Planning and Urban Development, the Ministry of Finances and the social housing, private housing and commercial property sectors; launched in 2010. Energy Leap has a variety of incentives in place for the realisation of pilot construction projects, for creating knowledge on improved urban sustainability in the Netherlands, and for experimenting with various innovative governance arrangements: monetary rewards, administrative support, information, leadership recognition, and the ability to built close links with policymakers. By the end of 2014 it had in place 28 different innovative governance arrangements and programs varying from small-scale pilot projects that seek to understand how small retail units can be retrofitted to become energy neutral to large-scale projects that incentivise four key social housing corporations to retrofit 111,000 houses to become energy neutral as well. Key for Platform 31 is that initiatives result in scalable lessons on how the energy and carbon intensity of the Dutch built environment can be reduced (Platform 31, 2014).

Participants in the various collaborations Platform 31 and participants develop targets—for instance retrofitting X number of offices to ensure energy neutrality, retrofitting privately owned houses to reduce 80 per cent energy consumption, or developing city-districts designs with high levels of urban sustainability—to which participants commit and in which Platform 31 supports them to meet these. These targets generally require considerable beyond compliance behaviour of participants. Platform 31 has in place a number of pre-selection criteria for prospective participants to meet. For some collaborations third party assessment is relied on, for instance the classification and certification arrangement Green Performance for Real Estate (discussed under Covenant De Bilt, above); in other collaborations self-assessment, administrator assessment or government assessment is relied on.

Website (in Dutch only): www.energiesprong.nl

Energy Reductions for the Rental Sector (“Energiebesparing Huursector”; the Netherlands, 2012)

Action network that brings together the Dutch Ministry of the Interior, the national housing corporation interest body, the national housing tenant interest body, and the national private property investor interest body (Dutch Ministry of the Interior, 2012a). It is one of many of such action networks in place in the Netherlands through which Ministries enter into agreements with interest bodies and other organisations to improve urban sustainability in the Netherlands. Key for the Ministry of the Interior is to gain a better understanding how the energy and carbon intensity of the residential sector can be reduced as it has to comply with 2020 reduction targets set by the European Commission; key for participants is to save costs as well as being involved in the development and implementation of future construction regulation. All these networks built on the earlier discussed win-win narrative of combined eco-efficiency with cost-savings for participants and fit a larger policy mantra popular in the Netherlands in the early 2010s: ‘Taking responsibility in a time of crisis’ (Dutch Ministry of Finance, 2012)—which roughly sums up the national government’s ambition of addressing the (global) financial crisis experienced in the Netherlands through investments and job-creation in the construction and property sectors among others.

This specific action network aims for reduced rental sector natural gas consumption of 20 per cent by 2018 as of 2008. It predominantly seeks retrofits of existing property.

Green Deals (Netherlands, 2011)

A series of negotiated agreements between the Dutch Government (the Ministry of Finances) and other parties; launched in 2011. Through these the Dutch Government supports (urban) sustainability projects—often financially but also by reducing regulatory barriers—and in doing so it aims meeting requirements set by the European Union for a 20 per cent reduction of energy consumption and carbon emissions by 2020 (Ministry of Economic Affairs, 2013b). Since 2011 over 200 deals have been entered into; close to 60 have a specific focus on increased urban sustainability, ranging from local renewable energy projects to the development of certification and classification arrangements for urban sustainability (Ministry of Economic Affairs, 2013a). Participants proposed a Green Deal to the Ministry of Finances, which then assesses its viability and expected beyond compliance urban sustainability performance—only projects that hold promise of considerable beyond compliance performance are included. A Green Deal Board—representing business, civil society organisations and government (but not academia)—monitors and assesses the performance of the Green Deals (Green Deal Board, 2012).

For this research project specific Green Deals were studied in detail: a series of negotiated agreements in the city of Amsterdam that are pilot projects for improved urban sustainability of new and existing buildings and other developments; a series of (interacting) innovative (local) governance arrangements implemented in the city of Haarlem that seeks to reduce resource residential building energy consumption by at least 20 per cent compared to a business as usual scenario; and a pilot study that seeks to understand whether and how the notion of circular economy—high quality use and reuse of resources—can be applied to existing and new buildings. These Deals aimed to result in scalable lessons on how to improve building energy efficiency throughout the Netherlands (Van der Heijden, 2014b).

Website (in Dutch only): www.rvo.nl

Green Leases Toolkit (California, United States, 2009)

The Green Leases Toolkit aims to overcome the barriers to greening California's leased commercial office space, which represents 90% of all commercial office space in the state. The purpose of the Green Leases Toolkit is to promote communication and create transparency within the lease process. This can be done through customizing traditional leasing tools (such as Scorecards, Lease Provisions, and Work Letters) to each organizations goals and objectives.

Website: www.sustainca.org

Green Lights (United States, 1991)

Large scale negotiated agreement arrangement between the United States Environmental Protection Agency and other parties; launched in 1991. Participants sign a memorandum of understanding with the Agency committing to survey the lightning in all of its United States facilities and install energy efficient lighting systems in 90 per cent over a five year period—where it is profitable and lightning quality is maintained. In return the Agency assists participants throughout the retrofit process by providing lists of manufacturers, lighting management companies and utilities that provide energy efficient systems. The Agency further provides participants with computer software to keep track of their performance: the Energy Star Portfolio Manager—Green Light was merged with the Energy Star for Buildings arrangement (discussed before, under certification and classification). It also gives participants information on where they can find third-party financing for their retrofits, technical support through workshops and manuals, and public recognition through media campaigns (US EPA, 1995; Videras & Alberini, 2000).

The arrangement does not require a specific reduction target to meet. It builds on yearly reporting of performance data, which is verified by the arrangement administrator—the Environmental Protection Agency.

Green Lights has been incorporated in Energy Star for Buildings.

Mumbai First (Mumbai, India, 1994)

Collaboration launched by Mumbai based major firms in 1994 that brings together these firms and the government of the state of Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital. Its initiators aimed to make Mumbai a more liveable city—including improved urban sustainability and the development of a highly sustainable ‘eco-industrial township’ within Mumbai—and a city that would attract investment. The underlying assumption of Bombay First is that by attracting international capital the city of Mumbai will generate funds to address pressing environmental and societal problems (Nayar, 2010). It builds on a similar example in the United Kingdom, London First (see www.londonfirst.co.uk).

Mumbai First commissioned an international consultancy firm to prepare a study that assessed Mumbai’s strengths and opportunities as part of the development of a vision for the transformation of Mumbai. This document, Vison Mumbai: Transforming Mumbai into a World-Class City (McKinsey, 2003) was endorsed by Bombay First, the state of Maharashtra and the World Bank. Mumbai First was a key-player in the development of the Mumbai Transformation Programme, which comprises over 40 projects to improve economic growth, reduce (urban) poverty, and improve urban sustainability (Cities Alliance, 2008). Mumbai First has set a range of targets, including 10 per cent reduced (unaccounted for) water consumption, improved energy efficiency and reduced waste production (Kamdar, 2014; PWC, 2009). The collaboration has a strong business focus, though, and many of the rewards lie in seeing these targets met: For instance, 30 per cent of all water consumed in Mumbai is unaccounted for. This comes at a financial loss for the utilities. Other rewards lie in the close connections these businesses can built with policymakers in the Maharashtra government and with international fund suppliers such as the World Bank and Cities Alliance. The collaboration does not have a specific assessment regime in place for goal achievement.

Website: www.mumbaifirst.org

More with Less (“Meer met Minder”; the Netherlands, 2011)

Action network that brings together the Dutch Ministry of the Interior, the construction sector peak body, the national energy utility interest group, and the national heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) interest group (Dutch Ministry of the Interior, 2012c)—the networks is comparable in design and implementation as Energy Reductions for the Rental Sector (discussed above). It aims for energy retrofits of 300,000 dwellings yearly starting in 2012.

Peer Experience and Reflective Learning Network (PEARL; India 2007)

Collaboration launched by the Government of India under the Ministry of Development and the World Bank in 2007 to bring together the Ministry and 67 selected cities. Through the collaboration the Ministry seek to achieve a number of goals of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), India’s most ambitious urban renewal scheme to date and launched in 2005: Improve urban governance, the quality of life—including increased urban sustainability—and infrastructure in these 67 cities over an initially seven-year period (Jain, 2010). The JNNURM seeks to develop lessons on how these goals can be quickly achieved in cities throughout India.

Under the JNNURM cities commit to these goals and receive financial support from the Ministry for achieving these. The collaboration was launched to share experiences among participating cities, and to keep track of performance of goal achievement at city-level. Unique about it is the twinning of cities: A well performing city is twinned with a less well performing one, expecting that this results in a quick sharing of lessons from the former to the latter. PEARL may be considered the assessment tool of the JNNURM: It actively stimulates participating cities to report their performance data, and supports them in doing so. In its first years PEARL had in place an incentive scheme for cities to provide this data. PEARL further is a means to provide transparency: Performance data on projects at city levels as well as best practices are publicly available through the PEARL website—now the India Urban Portal (weblink provided below).

Website: www.indiaurbanportal.in

ResourceSmart (State of Victoria, Astralia, 2010-2013)

ResourceSmart was a website administered by the Victorian Government. The website is marketed as the place where ‘you'll find a range of rebates, solutions and information to help you cut your greenhouse pollution’. The website has a specific focus on households, educators, businesses, and governments.

Under the caption of ‘ResourceSmart’ the Victorian Government runs a number of programs. Besides encouraging people to be more considerate in using resources through informational and educational material, ResourceSmart provides a range of financial incentives. Among others, households and businesses can get rebates on energy and water efficiency improvements, and educators can apply for grants for teaching material.

Website: www.resourcesmart.vic.gov.au

Retrofit Chicago Commercial Buildings Initiative (Chicago, United States, 2012)

Action network launched by the City of Chicago government in 2012. It brings together City government, commercial property owners, and private sector fund providers. Through the network the City government seeks to reduce energy of Chicago’s office space, which adds to the city’s overall ambition to reduce resource consumption and carbon emissions (NRDC, 2014). The network is Chicago’s commitment to the Obama Administration’s Better Buildings Challenge (discussed above).

By participating in the network commercial property owners enter into an agreement with the City of Chicago to reduce the energy consumption of their property by at least 20 per cent over a five year period. In its first two years the Initiative had attracted 48 (mostly iconic) office buildings in the central business district, and participants had on average reduced their energy intensity by 7 per cent—with some participants already meeting the 20 per cent reduction goal (NRDC, 2014). Energy improvements were particularly achieved through low-tech and low-intrusive interventions (‘low hanging fruit’) such as changing to energy efficiency LED lightning, installing motion sensors on heating, cooling and lightning systems, upgraded heating and cooling systems, and improved use of office equipment (such as computer monitors, Retrofit Chicago, 2015). In return for participating the City of Chicago facilitates network and marketing opportunities for property owners, helps finding funds for retrofits, and creates cases studies and models from the knowledge generated for other property owners to follow.

Website: www.retrofitchicagocbi.org

Sunny Leasing (“Zonnig huren”; the Netherlands, 2012)

Collaboration launched by a Dutch consultancy firm and some 30 Dutch (social) housing corporations in 2012 with support from their advocacy group Aedes and NL Agency, a public agency at arm’s length of the Ministry of Finances. It seeks to overcome financial and legal barriers that stand in the way of the instalment of solar panels on residential rental property—both individual homes and condominiums (Atrivé, 2012). The participating housing corporations collectively own approximately 25 per cent of all housing corporation owned rental units in the Netherlands (a total of about 2.4 million).

By participating in the collaboration participants commit to sharing knowledge and experience on retrofitting their rental property—with a focus on the instalment of solar panels. It further set a collective target of installing solar panels on 10,000 houses and 200 housing blocks and condominiums in 2013, and a total of 30,000 housing units in 2014. Progress is monitored by the consultancy firm; non-compliance is not penalised. During the research project the leading project manager has left the consultancy firm and started a self-run firm that continues the arrangement—or better: seeks to achieve the goals of the arrangement as a paid-for consultant—but with less of a collaboration-feel to it.

Website (in Dutch only): www.zonnighuren.nl