The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Climate Change Indicators resource presents compelling and straightforward evidence of changes to our climate reflected in rising temperatures, ocean acidity, sea level rise, river flooding, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires, among other indicators1. The summer of 2021 has shown how these translate to real- world extreme weather events.
Increasing building operations will unintentionally increase the effects of climate change.
A notable consequence is the rising average temperatures seen across the contiguous 48 states since 1901, with an increased rate of warming over the past 30 years. Average global temperatures show a similar trend, the top 10 warmest years on record worldwide having occurred since 2005. Within the United States, temperatures in parts of the North, the West, and Alaska have increased the most2. In fact, in June 2021, portions of the northwest region of the United States experienced the hottest temperatures in over 100 years of observations3.
Another concerning result of climate change is the increase in tropical storm activity in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico during the past 20 years. Storm intensity – a measure of strength, duration, and frequency – is closely related to variations in sea surface temperature in the tropical Atlantic and has risen noticeably during that time2. In July 2021, Tropical Storm Elsa made history when it hit the United States; it was the earliest in the year that the World Meteorological Organization had its 5th named storm in the Atlantic4.
With offices around the country beginning to welcome back employees and ramp up their building systems to near pre-pandemic standards, we will inevitably see an increase in greenhouse gas emissions once again. Since commercial buildings and industrial plants are responsible for nearly half of the energy used and greenhouse gasses emitted in the United States, utilizing the EPA’s free online ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager tool remains one of the best ways to maximize energy and cost savings at the building level5. With it, property owners and managers can practice sound energy management that will improve the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit at a maintainable level.
ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager provides over 150 metrics for analyzing how a property is performing, allowing for more informed cost-effective decision-making and encouraging higher investment in energy-efficient technologies. Cushman & Wakefield’s Energy & Sustainability (ESS) team has been assisting property owners and managers throughout the pandemic by tracking building performance through ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager. In 2021, Cushman & Wakefield is proud to be named ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for the ninth consecutive year by the EPA and the Department of Energy for outstanding leadership in reducing energy bills and tackling climate change6.
Using ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager, ESS provides full project management oversight to help properties achieve ENERGY STAR certification, including review of utility bill data and building information, energy benchmarking design, application preparation and verification by a licensed Professional Engineer (PE). For those that are not qualified, ESS can complete energy assessments and work with property teams to develop operational and capital strategies with the end goal of achieving an eligible score for certification.
For more on Cushman & Wakefield’s Energy & Sustainability (ESS) team or to find a team member to discuss your requirements with, visit their dedicated team page here.
1 EPA: EPA Relaunches Climate Indicators Website Showing How Climate Change is Impacting Peoples’ Health and Environment, https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-relaunches-climate-indicators-website-showing-how- climate-change-impacting-peoples
2 EPA: Climate Change Indicators: Weather and Climate, https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/weather-climate
3 Oregon Public Broadcast: Perspective on the heat: The Northwest was hotter than the Mojave Desert, https://www.opb.org/article/2021/06/29/perspective-on-the-heat-northwest-was-hotter-than-mojave-desert/
5 ENERGY STAR: About ENERGY STAR for Commercial Buildings, https://www.energystar.gov/buildings/about-us
6 Cushman & Wakefield: CUSHMAN & WAKEFIELD NAMED ENERGY STAR® PARTNER OF THE YEAR FOR NINTH YEAR
IN A ROW, https://www.cushmanwakefield.com/en/united-states/news/2021/04/cw-named-energy-star-partner- of-the-year