American Realty Advisors, an institutional real estate investment manager with more than $6 billion in assets under management has announced the launch of a new sustainability initiative, beginning at 150 N. Wacker Drive, a 31-story office tower in Chicago, Illinois, designed to reduce water consumption by more than one million gallons per year at the property.
“Commercial properties currently account for nearly 40 percent of total energy use in the U.S., and 38 percent of total greenhouse/carbon dioxide emissions,” says Jay Butterfield, Managing Director, Fund/Separate Account Operations, of American. “For this reason, sustainability strategies are a top priority for American and for our investors. By saving resources, we can conserve power, decrease environmental impact, and reduce operating costs.”
150 N. Wacker recently underwent LEED re-certification in early 2014. As part of this process, American conducted a detailed analysis of existing building systems and developed a plan to reduce energy and resource usage, according to Butterfield.
A key to the energy reduction program for this Chicago asset was the replacement of 115 restroom sink aerators, four showers, and three women’s toilets with lower flow versions. By investing in these energy-efficient features, American succeeded in reducing water usage in the building by 4,000 gallons of water per day, or 1 million gallons annually, directly contributing to a reduction in energy required to power the building.
“In addition to saving the water itself, our sustainability strategy at 150 N. Wacker reduced the energy needed to handle water and sewage for the building by 90,750 kilowatt hours per year, which equates to a savings of 62.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually,” explains Butterfield. “These are substantial numbers that will move the needle in a big way, both for the environment and for the asset’s bottom line.”
The new sustainability features in the building also deliver a tremendous cost savings to investors, according to Butterfield, who notes that investors can expect an ongoing annual savings of up to three times the amount of the initial one-time cost of installing the water conservation fixtures.
“This is a significant return on investment and the results are well-aligned with American’ overall sustainable investment strategy through which we can increase net operating income and add value for our investors while reducing the negative impact commercial buildings have on the environment,” explains Butterfield.
The 150 N. Wacker project is expected to receive LEED Silver certification by the end of 2014. Based on the success of this initial launch, American plans to explore implementing new water saving features throughout its entire office portfolio, which encompasses over 11.6 million square feet throughout the U.S.