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The trend towards sustainable building continues to move ever more rapidly, adapting to changing technology and standards. Even as the U.S. Green Building Council is seeking comments on its third version of qualifications for LEED certification, other real estate organizations are creating their own policies to encourage environment-friendly construction.

Earlier this month, the National Association of Office and Industrial Properties has formed its official association policy on energy to encourage its member to increase their commitment to green building. “We’re looking to positively encourage a proactive stance,” Thomas J. Biscacquino, NAIOP president, told GlobeSt.com. “The business case is becoming stronger and stronger.”

Key objectives of the NAIOP policy include: encouraging the real estate development industry to employ ever feasible, cost-effective, sustainable strategy to increase the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings; engaging in educational programs, seminars and conferences to help employ best practices; and advancing public policies that accelerate, support and promote efficiency.

Meanwhile, standards of energy efficiency have been evolving rapidly. LEED v. 3 is the effort by the U.S. Green Building Council to simplify the standards for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, while also allowing customization for regional differences. The new system, which would grant up to 110 points–including 10 optional bonus points for various green practices–would replace the current system, which grants up to 69 points for various environmentally conscious methods and technologies. The proposed revision currently is in the public comment stage, with interested parties to send suggestions by June 22.

“This is a scientific revolution along the lines of the shift from Euclidean to Newtonian physics,” said Scott Horst, chairman of the USGBC LEED steering committee, at a seminar held in June. “As we’ve improved LEED, we’ve been making it more complex. This is about a simplification of the system.”

NAIOP, as an organization, will not send comments on LEED v. 3 to the USGBC, but its members will, Bisacquino said. “There is clearly a nexus there, but our policy is not timed to coincide with LEED version 3,” Bisacquino said.

Many office developers have already engaged in sustainable practices, resulting in energy consumption in commercial buildings improving 25% over the past 30 years, even as the amount of energy-using technology has risen. Still, there is room for improvement, as commercial buildings account for 4% of direct CO2 emissions and 12% of indirect emissions. And not all developers are pursuing a green agenda, Bisacquino notes. “Some are on the leading edge of this, others over their heads, and many are in between,” he said. “Most distribution facilities are not air conditioned. Our big concern is the policy debate.”

Ultimately tenants, rather than government regulation, will drive the push toward sustainable buildings. “[Corporate users] want the cachet of being in a green building,” he said. “I believe that within the next couple of years, the definition of a Class A office building will be green.”

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