Family rivalry aside, the combination of green and smart is serious business, serious enough to have caught the attention of President George W. Bush nearly six years ago. Executive Order 13423, “Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management,” signed by Bush on January 24, 2007, set forth federal energy and environmental management requirements in several areas, key among them the design and operation of sustainable buildings. Its most notable directive requires federal agencies to reduce energy intensity by 3 percent annually, leading to a 30 percent reduction by the end of fiscal 2015. Though the order’s purview is limited to federal agencies, it should stand as a model for the private sector as well.
Building green pays immediate dividends, if not monetarily then in heightened community heroism, perhaps with a certificate, bronze plaque, newspaper headline, or key to the city. Smart building management is considerably less glamorous and garners few headlines, sometimes leading to doubts whether a value truly exists for stakeholders. For example, a property owner with transient tenants, perhaps retail stores in a mall, may have only a minimal desire to invest in technology that has a multi-decade payback. The stores themselves are likely even less interested. A university campus is vastly different. The school is owner, occupier, manager, and — the key — future long-term occupier, likely to remain there for decades or even centuries. Massachusetts Hall, the oldest building on the Harvard campus, was constructed in 1720 and today houses the offices of the university’s president — certainly a high-profile locale for smart building-management best practices. In scenarios like these, a lengthier return on investment becomes a non-issue.
In the more typical case of an office building, advancing the concept of smart building management morphs into a business solutions sale, a discipline for which a structure’s architects usually have neither desire nor expertise. Nevertheless, Carter believes the metrics to forge ahead already exist. “The three biggest expenses in any corporation are people, space and energy, in that order. A CFO wants to see return and value on all three; if you can show value in smarter facilities management, you’re covering the latter two and you’ve got a sale.” Crestron’s