GreenFill Columbus LEED Infill Incentive Policy Report


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Final report prepared for the City of Columbus\' Green Team on incentive policy options to promote the construction of LEED projects in infill areas of the City.

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GreenFill Columbus LEED Infill Incentive Policy Report

  1. 1. GreenFill Columbus A Green Building-Urban Infill Incentive Policy for a Truly Sustainable Columbus Presented to the Green Team Growth & Development Committee 2009 Amanda King OSU City and Regional Planning Graduate Student
  2. 2. Table of Contents Introduction................................................... 3 Background.................................................... 4 Research....................................................... 6 GreenFill Policy Proposal.................................. 9 Next Steps.................................................... 13 Future Considerations..................................... 14 Appendices Computrol's Government LEED Incentives City of Cincinnati Tax Abatement Policy LEED New Construction and Existing Buildings Criteria "Building Greener" Incentives Document City of Columbus Development Incentives Green Team Growth and Development Committee Meeting Notes
  3. 3. GreenFill policy recommendation for a greener Columbus Introduction In the summer of 2009, the Green Team's Growth and Development Committee expressed an interest in developing an incentive policy, in conjunction with the Green Building Committee, that would encourage the development of green buildings in already urbanized areas of the City of Columbus. Such a policy would combine the environmental interests of each committee - encouraging both sustainable buildings and sustainable land use - to develop a unique incentive policy that would also be an economic boon to the City. This document is an outgrowth of that interest in such a policy. Its purpose is to present the research on the environmental and economic impacts of buildings and sprawled development, the positive impacts of green buildings and urban infill growth, and the policies that the City can feasibly adopt to encourage truly sustainable development. Considering the examples of other jurisdictions, such as the City of Cincinnati's tax abatement incentive for LEED-certified buildings, as well as the current conditions and programs already existing in Columbus, this report provides policy recommendations for a "GreenFill" incentive program to put the City at the forefront of sustainble building development. The Green Team has already begun identifying Green Strings for City policies to encourage a "culture of green" in its operations, including requiring all new major City buildings to achieve LEED certification. The policy proposal here is consistent with these and other Green Team objectives by reocgnizing the importance of linking green buildings with urban infill development - not only to achieve environmentally sound development patterns but to also provide long-term economic benefits to the City and developers alike. With its existing LEED development mandate, the City has already recognized the importance of green building development. The City can expand the environmental and economic benefits of green buildings by encouraging private green building development and incorporating a focus on their development in designated infill areas. A recent Rutgers University and Brookings Institution study that found the nation could save hundreds of billions of dollars and preserve about four million acres of land over the next two decades by channeling development into existing urban areas and compact new towns. The following report outlines how the City can institute a "GreenFill" incentive policy to extend its culture of green and realize these environmental and economic benefits. "GreenFill" Policy Proposal - City of Columbus Green Team 3
  4. 4. Background land use. energy. environment. infill. Energy and Environmental Impacts of Buildings Benefits of Green Buildings Buildings represent one of the largest contributors to While the benefits of green buildings can vary greatly energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. depending upon the technologies implemented and It is estimated that buildings account for 38.9% of behaviors adopted within them, a study of 121 U.S. energy use, 72% of U.S electricity consumption, various LEED-certified commercial buildings (new and 38% of all CO2 emissions.1 In addition, buildings construction) had an average energy use intensity use about 15 trillion gallons of potable water per (EUI) level of 24% below that of the national average year3 and create about 170 million tons of for all commercial building stock. LEED office construction and demolition debris per year.3 In buildings, the most common type of commercial addition, the U.S. EPA estimates that indoor air building, had an average EUI of 33% below the pollutants may be up to 10 times as high as outdoor national average, with LEED Gold and Platinum concentrations, including high carbon dioxide buildings achieving a 50% reduction in EUI.5 These concentrations, exacerbating poor health conditions.4 energy reductions result in significant cost savings as well as air quality benefits related to reduced The immense impact that buildings, especially those emissions from energy sources. A survey of 12 public for large commercial uses, have on the environment green buildings estimated a 33% reduction in and natural resource usage have a residual impact on greenhouse gas emissions.6 our economy as energy and health care costs rise and affordable raw materials become more scarce. As a Green buildings also present a significant opportunity result of these consequences, local governments, to stimulate the economy. In general, the economic nonprofit organizations, and private building benefits of green buildings can include an estimated developers alike have been looking towards green 8-13% reduction in building operating costs, 7-10% building design to provide quality working and living increase in building value, 6-20% improvement of atmospheres and reduce building operating costs. return on investment, and over 3% occupancy ratio increase.7,8 These benefits are expected to increase as energy costs rise and market attention and demand for green buildings increases. Other green building features that are part of LEED standards can be adopted to create additional benefits. These included using indoor construction materials with low volatile organic compound (VOC) levels to improve indoor air quality and health, reducing water usage and costs, limiting imperviousness and/or adopting features to reduce stormwater runoff, and many other benefits. Using reused and/or recycled materials also expands the market for construction and demolition debris from 1 Environmental Information Administration (2008). EIA Annual Energy Outlook. other building development projects, completing the 2 U.S. Geological Survey (2000). 2000 data. cycle of materials reuse. 3 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2009). “Estimating 2003 Building- 6 GSA Public Buildings Service (2008). Assessing Green Building Performance: A Post Related Construction and Demolition Materials Amounts”. Occupancy Evaluation of 12 GSA Buildings. 4 Environmental Protection Agency (2008). An Introduction to Indoor Air 7 McGraw Hill Construction, Green Building SmartMarket Report, 2006 Quality. Accessed via: 8 GSA Public Buildings Service (2008). Assessing Green Building Performance: A Post 5 New Buildings Institute (2008). Energy Performance of LEED for New "GreenFill" Policy Proposal - City of Columbus Green Team 4
  5. 5. Background land use. energy. environment. infill. In addition, infill development increases the likelihood that Impacts of Sprawled Development in Metropolitan commuters will choose public transit or other modes of Areas transportation such as biking or walking, since infill sites will most likely be serviced by transit lines and sidewalk, Sprawled development has important economic, social, and which also contributes to reduced carbon emissions and environmental costs.9 It irreversibly eliminates valuable other air quality benefits. A U.S. EPA case study of three natural land, displaces water and degrades water quality, metropolitan areas found that reductions in VMT related to increases traveling distances, inflates housing prices, increased urban infill versus greenfield development lead excludes certain economic groups, and presents a financial to regional emissions reductions of 3-8%.13 Finally, burden on cities, among numerous other consequences. encouraging infill development reduces development pressures on greenfield sites, which provides the greatest As the amount of impervious surface related to environmental benefit to metropolitan areas by preserving development and new roadways increases, areas lose their valuable natural open space that helps mitigate the ability to manage stormwater, resulting in flooding and environmental impact of carbon-emitting activities in the polluted runoff that flows into water streams. Sprawl also urban core.14 greatly increases automobile dependence, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions as well as smog- Urban infill development also has a number of economic forming emissions that then lead to public health problems benefits for metropolitan areas. Commuters are likely to such as asthma and cancer.10 Sprawled development also face reduced energy costs related to transportation as well results in loss of valuable open space and prime farmland. as less traffic congestion compared to conventional The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2007 Census found suburban-style development. The U.S. EPA estimates that that the state of Ohio lost more than 600,000 acres of overall regional traffic congestion as a result of urban infill prime farmland between 2002 and 2007, which has versus greenfield development can be decreased by 5-7%.15 important environmental and economic implications.11 Infill commercial development is also likely to increase accessibility to economic opportunities for those who The cost of extending water and sewer services as well as might be left out of the equation with distant greenfield constructing and maintaining roads for expanded greenfield development. development constitutes large capital costs for municipalities. Sprawled development can inflate these infrastructure costs by up to 40%. Over the long term, property taxes on these developments will not cover the 9 Burchell, Robert W. et al. Sprawl costs: economic impacts of unchecked development. (2005). Island cost of ongoing infrastructure maintenance costs, even with Press. Washington D.C. development impact fees.12 10 “Environment”. Smart Growth America. <> Accessed November 11, 2009. Benefits of Encouraging Urban Infill Development 11 Presented at the 10th Annual Ohio Farmland Preservation Summit by Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Robert J. Boggs. November 5, 2009. Conversely, infill development refers to new development 12 Burchell, Robert W. et al. Sprawl costs: economic impacts of unchecked development. (2005). Island that occurs in core urbanized areas – areas of the region Press. Washington D.C. that are already built up. Infill development can occur on 13 “Measuring the Air Quality and Transportation Impacts of Infill Development”. (2007). U.S. previously developed sites or on vacant land within an Environmental Protection Agency. urban typology. There are several environmental benefits of 14 “Granting Air Quality Credit for Land Use Measures: Policy Options”. (1999) Prepared for the U.S. EPA by urban infill development, including fewer vehicle miles Jack Faucet Associates and Sierra Research, Inc. traveled (VMT) due to concentrating destinations in already 15 “Measuring the Air Quality and Transportation Impacts of Infill Development”. (2007). U.S. EPA. populated areas. 16 “Linking Vision with Capital –Challenges and Opportunities in Financing Smart Growth” (September 2001) Research Institute for Housing America – Institute Report No. 01-01. "GreenFill" Policy Proposal - City of Columbus Green Team 5
  6. 6. Research methodology. current conditions. existing policies. In order to develop a green buildings policy for Local Green Building Policies at a Glance the City of Columbus that also meets its sustainable growth goals, it is important to An increasing number of local jurisdictions are offering identify what development policies already exist incentives for private commercial buildings to in the City as well as what other jurisdictions are incorporate green standards. The City of Cincinnati doing to encourage the development of green awards a 15-year 75% property tax abatement to all buildings. A green building incentive policy should developments in its CRA that meet a minimum “LEED incorporate achievable and verifiable design Certified” for New Construction standard (see Appendix standards that address the market shortcomings for tax abatement details). This has led to a dramatic of private development while efficiently utilizing increase in the development of LEED-certified buildings the City’s resources for a program that is both in Cincinnati since the policy was instituted in 2007. economically and environmentally sustainable. Also in 2007, the City of El Paso passed a Green The following incentive program research also Building Grant Program for commercial and multi-family analyzes the feasibility of a direct incentive, such buildings achieving “LEED Certified” or higher. The as grants and loans, versus other types of program provides grants of up to $400,000 per project incentives including tax abatement and expedited depending on the level of LEED certification achieved as development review. well as other criteria such as incorporating a mix of building uses in previously vacant properties. Eligible projects must also meet 10 of the 17 LEED points for Energy & Atmosphere criteria in order to receive the grant incentive. In addition, the City of Babylon, New York, mandates that all commercial and residential buildings over 4,000 square feet meet a minimum “LEED Certified” standard. All buildings that meet this standard are provided with a refund to developers for the cost of certification fees paid to the U.S. Green Building Council. Other local government incentives for green buildings include density bonuses, where developers are permitted to build more densely than otherwise permitted by zoning codes in exchange for achieving LEED status; permit fee waivers/reductions, where buildings that meet LEED standards are eligible for building permit fee reduction or exemptions; expedited permit processing, where buildings that are applying for LEED certification gain priority building permit Source: "Growing the Green Economy", Delta Brownfields processing in order to streamline the pre-development process for green builders; and complimentary technical assistance and promotion from city officials for meeting certain green building standards and/or LEED certification. A complete list of local government incentives for green building development can be found in the Appendix. "GreenFill" Policy Proposal - City of Columbus Green Team 6
  7. 7. Research methodology. current conditions. existing policies. Adhering to LEED for Green Buildings Policy The standards developed under LEED incorporate sound principles of green design, including site selection and water- and energy-efficiency standards, which benefit both building owners and local governments that provide infrastructure services. As outlined above, LEED is clearly the primary standard by which many jurisdictions base their green buildings policies. This can largely be attributed by the importance of having a widely recognized third-party verification of green design in order to demonstrate eligibility for green building incentives. In addition, the City of Columbus, like most cities in today’s economic climate, would not benefit from committing its staff to developing and enforcing its own green building standards when a The Lazarus LEED Gold building in Downtown Columbus Source: OSU Urban Arts Center useable rubric already exists. Furthermore, green building operators will likely receive a greater return While increased project costs related to LEED can on investment with the marketable LEED label as it vary widely, the Green Building Finance Consortium, will increase the building’s desirability to tenants. a group of business and real estate professionals Thus, LEED should be the standard by which the City seeking independent research on green building bases its green buildings policy. investments, estimated in 2006 that the increased cost of building to “LEED Certified” standards is Increased soft costs as a barrier to LEED certification about 0.8% of initial costs, 3.5% for “LEED Silver” buildings, 4.5% for “LEED Gold”, and about 11.5% to While incorporating sustainable design methods into achieve “LEED Platinum” status.17 These estimates buildings lead to tangible cost savings for building include both hard and soft costs related to LEED operators, obtaining LEED certification does lead to certification. A study commissioned by the American increased upfront costs. These may include Chemistry Council estimates that the average increased costs for greener materials, but also increased soft costs of obtaining LEED certification is additional soft costs for design, documenting about 2.3%.18 It is also reasonable to consider that compliance standards, and LEED registration and these percentages may now be lower as green/LEED- verification costs. While design and compliance costs standard building design becomes increasingly may decrease over time as more professionals mainstream. become versant in LEED-standard construction, these soft costs remain a barrier to building green. While buildings incorporating green design methods may certainly achieve environmental benefits without receiving official LEED certification, verification is an important component of green 17 “Quantifying ‘Green’ Value: Assessing the Applicability of the CoStar Studies”. (2006) buildings and many of green buildings’ benefits – such Green Building Finance Consortium. as increased property values and marketability – 18 “Analyzing the Cost of Obtaining LEED Certification”. (2003) American Chemistry cannot be realized without this verification. Thus, Council. Prepared by Northbridge Environmental Management Consultants. receiving LEED certification is key to the short- and long-term success of a green building policy. "GreenFill" Policy Proposal - City of Columbus Green Team 7
  8. 8. Research methodology. current conditions. existing policies. Existing Development Incentives in Columbus Conclusions from Incentive Program Research The City of Columbus has already made strides to link Because Columbus has exhausted its tax abatement green building practices and development incentives. incentive packages as it continues to compete with Currently, all commercial buildings receiving tax surrounding suburbs for commercial development to abatement incentive package must demonstrate that sustain its economic health, it is not feasible for the energy-efficiency measures are being taken. The City City to offer increased tax abatement for LEED- currently offers a 75%, 10-year property tax certified buildings. However, the City should promote abatement for developments in the Enterprise Zone, its encouragement of green buildings on its Economic which covers about 97% of the city limits. The City is Development website and other literature in order to unable to increase this tax abatement amount attract greener development. In addition, development without diverting funds from local schools, and must process incentives such as expedited permit review allow this level of abatement for non-LEED would likely not increase the development of LEED developments in order to compete with the 100% buildings as the City already makes great strides to abatement offered by many surrounding suburbs. streamline this process. While many jurisdictions offer expedited building The City’s Department of Development has learned, permit review to incentivize LEED building however, that many developers do not find it difficult development, the City is bound to provide reviews on to incorporate green standards into their buildings, but a first-come, first-served basis and strives to issue find the additional soft costs of obtaining LEED building permit reviews as expeditiously as possible. certification to be the major hurdle to green development. While additional hard costs associated As for instituting policies that encourage urban infill with LEED certification, such as energy-efficient development, the City participates in incentive equipment, can be recouped through utility cost programs to redevelop brownfield sites and follows a savings over the life of the building, these soft costs “Pay As We Grow” strategy to pay for infrastructure may be difficult to justify for some developers until and costs associated with growing outward and green building design becomes standard industry greenfield development upfront in order to control practice. However, verification of standards is sprawled development patterns. paramount to a successful green buildings policy. Thus, the City of Columbus should institute a direct incentive program that offsets the additional upfront soft costs of LEED building certification in urban infill areas in order to encourage truly sustainable development. A grant program is preferable to a loan program as it is straightforward for developers and does not require additional City resources for ongoing loan monitoring. As higher levels of LEED certification provide greater benefits to the City’s overall environmental quality and may also incur greater costs, the grant program should offer tiered incentives based on the level of certification achieved. Furthermore, because the costs associated with achieving “LEED Certified” status is City of Columbus development patterns over the years marginal compared to traditional development costs, Source: Community Research Partners buildings must achieve a minimum “LEED Silver” rating to qualify for this financial incentive. "GreenFill" Policy Proposal - City of Columbus Green Team 8
  9. 9. Policy Proposal "greenfill" grant incentive program City of Columbus “GreenFill” Grant Incentive Geography of the “GreenFill” Incentive Program Program In order to fulfill the urban infill requirement of the In order to encourage the private development and incentive program, which ensures that the City’s redevelopment of green buildings in sustainable resources contribute to truly sustainable green areas, the City of Columbus should implement a building development, LEED standard buildings must tiered grant program for LEED-certified buildings in meet Criteria 1 and 2 of the LEED Checklist’s urban infill areas. The tiered system will help cover “Sustainable Sites” standards to qualify. These criteria the soft costs of obtaining LEED certification and require buildings to be redeveloped on sites that have reward developers that achieve high levels green already been developed at one time or another, are design. built away from environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands and floodplains, do not occupy prime Newly built and existing buildings in urban infill areas farmland, and are within more densely developed attaining “LEED Silver” certification would be eligible areas (see Appendix for full “Sustainable Sites” for 90% reimbursement of additional soft costs criteria). related to obtaining certification; “LEED Gold”- certified buildings would qualify for 100% Using the LEED “Sustainable Sites” criteria also reimbursement; and buildings meeting the highest ensures that the City’s goals of encouraging “LEED Platinum” certification would be eligible for a sustainable infill development are met without placing 110% reimbursement of additional soft costs to any additional burdens on building developers, as reward this high achievement which would greatly meeting these criteria directly contribute to benefit the City. Buildings must obtain LEED development’s overall LEED rating. certification for New Development or Existing Building to qualify (see Appendix for LEED criteria). Cost Scenarios for “GreenFill” Incentive Program These recommended grant amounts are a modification of the tiered percentages outlined in While it can be difficult to determine the annual costs the City’s “Building Greener” document (see of the proposed GreenFill Incentive Program, as Appendix). developer demand and project-specific eligible soft costs will vary, a variety of scenarios can be used to Only soft costs associated with LEED certification estimate the size of the grant program the City should would be eligible. These costs include LEED adopt. registration and verification fees, resource costs for documenting compliance, and additional design and Using the City’s building permit data from 2007, the consulting costs associated with LEED certification.19 total square footage of major commercial buildings Eligible soft costs associated with LEED certification that could potentially seek LEED certification totaled should not exceed 2-3% of the total development about 2,674,901.20 Given USGBC’s costs of verification budget. based on building area for new construction and 19 Developers would have to conform to all other Department of Development standards existing buildings, respectively, the following and demonstrate in a grant application that applicable soft costs are above and beyond calculations reflect the total costs of LEED the costs that would normally be applied for non-LEED standard development. The certification paid to USGBC if every building issued a Department of Development should develop criteria for determining eligible costs as permit in the City in 2007 sought registration needed. (complete calculations are available in Appendix). 20 Year 2007 Building Permit Data was used as the number of permit issued significantly declined in 2008 and 2009. The 2007 data is believed to be the most recent “typical” estimate of building permits issued by the City of Columbus annually. "GreenFill" Policy Proposal - City of Columbus Green Team 9
  10. 10. Policy Proposal "greenfill" grant incentive program As Table 1 illustrates, if all of the eligible commercial buildings seeking a permit in the City of Columbus in 2007 achieved LEED certification of some kind, the cost of verification reimbursable by the City through the GreenFill Incentive Program would be $147,119.56 if all building were new construction; $106,996.04 if all buildings were pre-existing; and $127,057.80 of half of the buildings (based on square footage) were existing Project Type Square Footage Verification Cost per Total LEED Square Foot[21] Verification Cost New Construction (NC) 2,674,901 $0.06 $147,119.56 Existing Building (EB) 2,674,901 $0.04 $106,996.04 Half NC/Half EB 1,337,450.5 (NC) $0.055 (NC) $127,057.80 1,337,450.5 (EB) $0.04 (EB) However, developers typically incur additional soft costs in addition to LEED certification costs paid to USGBC, including compliance tracking costs and additional design/consulting expenses as described earlier. Applying the average soft cost premium of 2.3% for LEED described in the Research section of this report to the City’s 2007 building permit data, we can estimate the potential eligible LEED soft costs as follows22: Building Type Building Value Average LEED Premium (2.3%) Stores/Mercantile Buildings $93,389,066 $2,147,948.52 Hospitals/Institutions $3,787,119 $87,103.74 Office/Banks/Professional $79,335,832 $1,824,724.14 Industrial $18,194,800 $418,480.40 Hotels/Motels $39,898,160 $917,657.68 TOTAL COSTS $5,395,914.47 Thus, we can estimate that if every major commercial building seeking a permit in 2007 achieved LEED certification (minimum “Silver” certification), and the City subsidized all soft costs associated with LEED certification, the cost to the City would be about $5.4 million. There are several caveats to these estimates, however. First and foremost, these estimated costs would likely decrease significantly since only buildings in qualified urban infill areas would be eligible for the grant incentive. Secondly, the average soft cost premium for building to LEED standards (2.3%) is an estimate from the year 2003 and is likely to be lower as green building development becomes increasingly mainstream; Finally, these estimates include all buildings which could conceivably seek LEED certification, but office/professional buildings are by far the most likely commercial category to use green design. The City may wish exclude some types of buildings that are unlikely to seek LEED certification, such as stores that are likely to be relatively small, from these calculations. Given these potential cost estimates, the City may choose to establish a program fund of about $100,000 (annual grant allotment) to cover only LEED verification costs paid to USGBC for developments in eligible urban infill areas. Again, the City would use a tiered system to award 90% reimbursement for LEED Silver buildings; 100% for LEED Gold buildings; and 110% for LEED Platinum buildings. This amount is likely to be well above necessary given the number of building permits that can potentially be expected in eligible infill areas. If the City wishes to subsidize the total soft costs associated with LEED certification for buildings in eligible areas, it may wish to limit program costs by capping eligible expenses at 2-3% (or less) of total soft costs and instituting a competitive grant process with a maximum available program fund. For instance, the City of Portland caps its green building fund program at $435,000 annually. "GreenFill" Policy Proposal - City of Columbus Green Team 10
  11. 11. Policy Proposal "greenfill" grant incentive program Potential Funding Sources Another funding approach may be to seek bond funding for the grant program and perhaps include In order to finance the GreenFill grant incentive the Green Building Fund in the City’s next program for LEED buildings, the City should establish infrastructure levy. The City’s commendable AAA bond a dedicated Green Building Fund, which can be rating puts it in a unique position over other funded in a variety of ways. The following scenarios municipalities to secure this type of funding for this are examples of funding schemes used by other proposed grant program. municipalities to fund similar grant incentive programs despite general economic constraints. The City of Portland, Oregon, has several unique There are also a number of state-level green building funding mechanisms for its green building and programs, such as Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener infrastructure incentive programs. Its “1% for Green” fund that provides a variety of funding mechanisms fund collects one percent of the construction budget to local governments, but this report will focus on for city projects within the city right-of-way to fund what municipalities can do to fund green buildings in green infrastructure projects that benefit the the absence of such state programs. The City should surrounding community. Columbus could institute a identify what measure(s) to finance its Green similar program by dedicating a percentage of its Building Fund may be most feasible given its unique construction project budgets to the Green Building situation. Fund for private LEED building development. Because the City has committed to developing all of its Many of the green building incentive programs government buildings to LEED standards, dedicating a described earlier in this report set aside a portion of portion of its construction project budgets to the sewer and water fees and/or building permit fees to Green Building Fund would be partially offset by the be used towards the program fund. Because LEED- reduced operating budgets of these buildings. standard buildings usually reduce stormwater runoff and water and sewer maintenance costs, these cities Portland has also established a Green Investment invest their utility maintenance cost savings into a Fund (GIF) particularly to award grants for soft costs revolving green building fund. If the City of Columbus associated with private green building projects. The were to use this method of financing its Green GIF was established in 2000 and is funded in a variety Building Fund, it may wish to consider requiring that of ways including residential and commercial solid eligible buildings meet LEED’s water-related criteria waste fees; grants from private foundations; fees in addition to the Site Selection and associated with intergovernmental service Density/Community Connectivity criteria to ensure agreements; and sponsorships from high-profile that these specific savings are realized. events held by the Green Building committee. For instance, the City could require incentivized This multi-pronged approach may be the best funding buildings to meet LEED’s 30% Water Use Reduction mechanism for Columbus to establish its Green criterion, which would decrease the City’s overall Building Fund. The City may be able to assess a small water and sewer maintenance costs. The City could portion the water and sewer fees (and potentially then afford to divert a percentage of its water and building permit fees) it collects in tandem with sewer fees from non-LEED buildings towards the dedicating a percentage of its construction budget for Green Building Fund, which would continue to City projects, securing some bond funding, and decrease the burden of the City water supply and seeking private grant funding to establish a Green treatment services. Building Fund. The Columbus Foundation and other private foundations that have a history of supporting environmental-related programs may form a partnership with City to establish the Fund. "GreenFill" Policy Proposal - City of Columbus Green Team 11
  12. 12. Policy Proposal "greenfill" grant incentive program Prospective Impacts of the “GreenFill” Incentive Program While the exact energy, environmental, and economic benefits of encouraging private development of LEED buildings will vary, the GreenFill Incentive Program is certain to have a significant impact on catalyzing widespread development of green buildings in the City of Columbus and focusing development within core urbanized areas. A Duke University study on the impacts of the City of Cincinnati’s LEED tax abatement program found that the number of new LEED-registered buildings dramatically increased after the program was established.24 All of the developers involved in the study indicated that the incentive program was the primary reason they chose to pursue LEED certification, even above marketing value and operational cost savings. The developers also indicated that LEED incentive program motivated them to develop in the central city rather than in surrounding municipalities. Thus, in addition to the many environmental and utility maintenance cost benefits associated with LEED-standard buildings, the City of Columbus could also realize increased market attention in building development, especially in its urban infill areas, as a result of the proposed LEED incentive program. Such a program could give the City a competitive edge in attracting development as well as businesses seeking to occupy highly desirable green buildings, which in turn creates jobs and tax revenues within the City. 24 LaJeunesse, Katherine J. “Cincinnati Takes the Lead in LEED: Effects of a real estate tax abatement for LEED certification on development and green building”. (2009). <> "GreenFill" Policy Proposal - City of Columbus Green Team 12
  13. 13. NextSteps additional research. implementation. Next Steps for Green Buildings Incentive Policy In addition to exploring funding mechanisms for the GreenFill Incentive Policy, there are several areas for further study that may be investigated before the program is instituted: 1. Use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) modeling to determine which areas of the City are eligible for the incentive grant using the LEED Sustainable Sites criteria as recommended. By generating an incentive zone map, developers will be able to easily determine where urban infill sites are and where the GreenFill incentive applies, making it easier for developers to build green. In addition, after mapping GreenFill-eligible sites, the City may wish to add to or further limit eligible sites based on any of its own additional development priorities. 2. Consider mandating additional LEED criteria to the GreenFill incentive grant. If the City determines that using a portion of utility fees Source: U.S. Green Building Council would be part of the financing mechanism for the GreenFill incentive program, it may be 4. Gain insight on GreenFill policy appropriate to research other City green building recommendations from other local officials as priorities and add relevant LEED criteria to the well as developers. It may be useful for local incentive program. officials, such as those within the Department of Development, to review this policy 3. Continue researching green building funds recommendation report in order to gain additional and related grant programs in other cities to insight on its feasibility. As this policy inform the funding mechanism for the GreenFill recommendation evolves, it may also be useful for incentive grant. Though this report provides some local developers to weigh in on how this research and suggestions for financing the policy meets their perception of barriers to LEED- GreenFill incentive program, it may be necessary standard and urban infill development. to continue researching the financing of similar grant-making programs in other cities. This will likely require interviewing program administrators and other research to elucidate innovative approaches to funding grant programs. "GreenFill" Policy Proposal - City of Columbus Green Team 13
  14. 14. Beyond GreenFill future considerations. additional recommendations. In addition to the GreenFill incentive program The site may also include suggestions and best recommendations made here, the City of Columbus management practices for creative green building may also wish to consider the following policies to features, such as rooftop gardens, stormwater achieve truly sustainable green building development: management techniques, rain gardens, and other desirable features. This information is either already LEED Scorecard for All City Developments available from the City in some form or can easily be linked to from other web sources. The One Stop Shop The City should strongly consider requiring all would serve to compile all of this information on one developments applying for a building permit to webpage to provide developers with all the complete a LEED Scorecard, the LEED criteria information they need to build green. One example checklist, as a mandatory part of the development model for such as webpage is the City of Seattle’s process. This would be an expansion upon the City’s “City Green Building” website.26 policy to require developers to demonstrate energy efficiency measures in order to receive a tax Create Regional Partnerships abatement package. A similar program is instituted with the City of Arlington, Virginia, and is designed to While adopting an incentive policy like “GreenFill” to encourage green building development.25 This policy encourage sustainable infill development will have would also fulfill the City’s Green Strings initiative to important environmental and economic impacts on tie all City incentives to green commitments. the City, implementing such a policy on a regional scale is necessary to ensure the long-term sustainable A policy such as this also serves to accelerate the growth of the Central Ohio area. It is therefore pace at which local developers become accustomed recommended that City develop partnerships with its to green design, thus institutionalizing these surrounding suburbs as well as the Mid-Ohio Regional standards beyond the life of the grant program. This Planning Commission (MORPC) to institute incentives may also enlighten developers to their building’s for green infill development. eligibility for LEED certification when then may not have otherwise known they would qualify. The success of the City’s incentive program will serve as a model to surrounding communities, and the City One Stop Shop for Green Development can mentor these communities in developing their own infill policies that reflect regional cooperation. In order to streamline the development process Central Ohio communities have already demonstrated specific to green building design, the City should a willingness to collaborate as a region on important include a webpage on the Department of planning issues, such as watershed partnerships Development website that serves as a One Stop Shop including the Big Darby Accord and the Olentangy for Green Development. The One Stop Shop would River Watershed Planning Partnership that is currently provide City resources and technical assistance forming under MORPC. As the urban anchor of the information for green/LEED buildings and may area, the City of Columbus is perfectly suited to lead include: a listing of City LEED Accredited a regional cooperative effort to promote sustainable Professionals that may be able to provide consulting infill development and preserve diminishing open services during the planning and development spaces. process; a list of local suppliers of green building 25 “Green Building Site Plan Conditions in Arlington (Private Development)” materials; and other available City resources for meeting LEED standards, such as construction cesEpoGreenBuildings.aspx material recycling facilities. The site would also link 26 “City Green Building” to neighborhood/area profiles of priority geographic locations for green development. lt.asp "GreenFill" Policy Proposal - City of Columbus Green Team 14