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CB Richard Ellis Takes the Lead to Encourage Green Buildings

Published on The Nation dated 6 September 2010 by Somluck Srimalee

CB Richard Ellis Ltd is offering a “Zero Financial Energy Efficiency Programme” for existing buildings to be renovated into green buildings.

Richie Lee, executive director of energy and sustainability for Asia, said in an interview last week that the concept of green buildings would help most buildings cut their electricity cost, water usage and waste as well as become environmentally friendly.

Most property owners think the green concept is only for new buildings, but that is a misunderstanding, he said.

“Existing buildings can be renovated to be green buildings but most building owners have delayed thier decision because they believe that the  renovation budget will be too high for them,” he said. In fact, the renovation budget will be lower thatn their spending on electric bills over the long run, he said.

Research in the US shows that existing buildings that are renovated under the green concept will recoup their investment between six and 10 years, he said. That is because they will save 30-50 percent on their electric bills, depending on the building size, compared with their bills before renovation.

CB Richard Ellis has launched a campaign to encourage all existing buildings to go green by changing chillers, airconditioners and otehr electric equipment. In this campaign, the company will join with its partners to use their own funds to renovate a building under the green concept at no cost to the owner.

After the renovation is completed and the building can reduce its electric bills, the building will pay the savings to the company. For example, before renovation the building has to pay Bt100,000 per month for electricity. After the renovation is finished, the building pays Bt70,000 per month. Then the Bt30,000 that is saved has to be paid back to CB Richard Ellis and its partners every month until the budget to renovated the building is covered.

If the renovation cannot reduce electricity bills, the building owner will not pay anything back. Lee said this campaing would help support the company’s property management business and is also environmentally friendly.

“Our average budget is about US$2 million (about Bt63 million) to renovate a building that spends about Bt200,000 a month on electricity. That will take six to 10 years to pay back, depending on the condition of the building,” he said.

This programme has been introduced in Asia, including Thailand, by foucusing on existing customers. Now the company has over 412 projects in 12 countries covering Asia-Pacific, with 80 of those buildings in Thailand. The programme is also open to new customers that want to join.

China is the first country in Asia that built green buildings, he said. There are now more than 60 buildings in China, followed by Singapore and Malaysia.

In Thailand, there is now only one project, Energy Complex, which has been awarded a platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for its construction process. The project is also applying to geed LEED certification for existing buildings.

Most office buildings are interested in changing into a green building because research in the US reported that most green buildings could charge 5-10 percent higher rent than normal buildings, he said. All green buildings enjoy higher occupancy rates than normal buildings.

That’s why most buildings have tried to change to be green buildings, he said.

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