Green light is on to ‘ReEnergize Reno’ | SierraSun.com

Green light is on to ‘ReEnergize Reno’

Whip Villarreal
info@nnbw.biz

The Marguerite Wattis Petersen Athletic Academic Center at the University of Nevada, Reno is a certified silver LEED building.

Nevada's green building market is one of the strongest in the nation.

Now the cause is accelerating with the city of Reno's launch of "ReEnergize Reno," aimed at improving energy efficiency across the city by 20 percent in 2025 for commercial, industrial and multifamily buildings.

Launch day came last week on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, where local and federal officials presented developers and community business leaders with details of the program in an effort to recruit them to join the ReEnergize Reno program.

ReEnergize Reno is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Challenge, which is designed to decrease energy and water waste in large buildings across the nation to reduce climate pollution. At least 45 other cities across the country are participating in the Better Buildings Challenge.

"All of this is about building our community's brand as a place businesses are locating to and where innovation is happening around clean energy climate solutions," said Reno City Councilmember David Bobzien at the ReEnergize Reno launch. "Through this, we are building new prosperity in the region in order to improve our competitiveness as a forward-thinking city."

Bobzien added there are many benefits the community will feel through the ReEnergize Reno program, including a reduction in pollution and improved air quality, a boost for Nevada's reputation as a leader in the renewable and clean energy sector, and contributions to the local economy. He cited data from the Department of Energy showing that for every dollar invested in energy efficiency, $2.23 is returned and spent in local economies.

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ReEnergize Reno offers incentives for partners participating in the program, including technical assistance, education and resources to financial incentives like the Green Building Tax Incentive Program from the Nevada Governor's Office Of Energy.

According to the NGOE, there are 124 buildings in the state certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, known as "LEED," that are receiving the tax abatements from the program. Also, the state's investment of $222 million in property tax incentives for developers to make their buildings more energy efficient has led to an 18-to-1 return.

NV Energy, another sponsor of the ReEnergize Reno program, also provides incentives, including technical assistance and cash for business owners through its Powershift program. Incentives through that program are available for existing facility improvements, major renovation and new construction projects for many types of businesses, including restaurants, retailers, manufacturers, municipalities, hotels and hospitals.

Green buildings aren't new to the region or the state.

Currently across Nevada, there are 131 buildings with more than 19 million square feet that received the Energy Star certification, and 21 of those buildings representing more than 4.9 million square feet are located in the Reno-Sparks area.

The U.S. Green Building Council ranks the top 10 states for LEED, and Nevada has made the list in three of the five years the rankings have been conducted. Through February 2017, there have been more than 400 projects that have gone through the LEED certification process across Nevada representing more than 131 million square feet.

However, most of the green building activity that has gone through the LEED certification process has been in Southern Nevada. In Northern Nevada, there are 59 projects that have gone through the LEED certification process representing more than 6.5 million square feet of real estate development across all sectors.

Given some of the data, it may seem the area has been sluggish to produce green buildings, but there may be a reason, officials said.

"During and after the economic downturn, there was literally no development going on in our community because we were one of the hardest hit and one of the slowest recovering communities in the nation," said Lynne Barker, city of Reno Sustainability Manager.

"We haven't had the building boom like many other communities that continue to expand on their green building policies and programs, and continue to see market adoption of green buildings."

Barker said the Reno-Sparks area is now starting to see an increase in investments in large capital projects and more green building, and she added that in the past three r four years there have been about five LEED-certified buildings annually in the local market. She added the outlook for further investment in green buildings across the region is positive.

"The industry has grown and transformed over the past 20 years and it continues to evolve," Barker said. "So, if we don't embrace green building as more and more leadership framework comes out that surpass green building, we are going to be left behind as a community."