ICSC: What’s New in Green?

I’m at the ICSC convention, along with about 30,000 of my closest friends in the CRE business.  It’s a vast convention, even though somewhat diminished in size from a few years ago.  It’s much busier than last year though:  a lot more people on the leasing mall floor, a lot more meetings taking place, and a lot of folks trying to do deals.

The “green” vendor displays this year include some pretty cool new technologies for saving energy, money and the environment.  Here’s  my opinionated view of a few I thought were very interesting.  (For the record, I have no financial interest or other connection to these companies, and have not worked with any of them; their products on display just seemed interesting — it’s great to see American ingenuity being deployed to create cost-effective solutions addressing some of our energy needs and environmental goals.)

1.  Sunoptics.  Sunoptics makes skylights for commercial roofs, as well as a “light cube”:  a tubular skylight that allows natural light to be brought into buildings with dropped ceilings.  Its technology involves the use of prismatic molded polycarbonates:  that means that its skylights can capture light from outdoors even from low sun angles, which means the skylights can provide light more hours each day. 

Sunoptics’ skylights are designed to prevent leaking and condensation:  the company’s design includes an insulated thermal break which reduces condensation, foam curb seals and an integrated weather sweep designed to prevent leakage (and backs up its claims in a  long term warranty against leaks).  Sunoptics regrinds its post-industrial scrap plastic and reuses it in the manufacturing of its skylights.  Sunoptics’ skylights allow the lights in buildings to be turned off, saving energy, during daylight hours, and can be used in addition to solar panels or film by buildings seeking to reduce their energy costs.  Sunoptics is based in Sacramento, CA, and its website is www.sunoptics.com.

2.  greenscreen.  Founded by a LA-based architect, John Souza, greenscreen sells lightweight metal panels, which look rather like two garden trellises made out of heavy wire joined together by horizontal wires connecting them so that they are about an inch apart.  These panels are used to support plants that climb:  this allows the installation of green walls that are separate from building walls, eliminate the damage to walls done by planting plants with suckers on them, and provide shade in the summer (lowering heat gain in the building).  The panels can be used as fencing, to create a softer look than standard fencing does; for horizontal areas such as trellis roofs; and for several other applications.  The screening is made in Fontana, California.  You can find out more at www.greenscreen.com.

3.  Skystream Commercial.  Skystream makes and sells small wind turbines that range in size from about 18 inches diameter (for use on a sailboat) up to about 12 feet (for use at a commercial building).  These micro-wind turbines have recently been installed at a Sam’s Club in Palmdale, California.  They can be mounted on lights in parking lots, and used to power the lights as well as to feed electricity into the neighboring buildings.  And, of course, the small ones can be used to charge your boat’s batteries!

4.  Presto Geosystems Filterpave.  Filterpave is a porous pavement system:  an alternative to impermeable asphalt — which of course creates stormwater runoff problems, Filterpave is a hard surface material made out of recycled glass bound with a high-strength flexible bonding agent.  The pavement is porous — though it feels hard — allowing surface waters to drain through it into  the earth or into a collection system for stormwater storage.   Apparently huge amounts of the glass bottles we so assiduously collect and recycle still end up in landfills — and the Filterpave system uses this post-c0nsumer recycled glass as its basic material.   It minimizes heat island effect, and reduces site disturbance by creating permeable surfaces.  It’s also rather pretty:  the glass glints in light.   You can find out more about Presto Geosystems’ pavement systems at www.prestogeo.com.

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6 Responses to “ICSC: What’s New in Green?”


  1. 1 Joe Stampone May 26, 2010 at 12:54 am

    It’s definitely nice to see the entrepreneurship in the green space. The question still remains, what is the payback on each of these alternatives. Until these options become more cost effective it’ll be difficult to convince real estate professionals to make the capital expense.

    • 2 mauraboconnor May 26, 2010 at 9:57 pm

      Dear Joe:

      Your comments are well articulated. I agree the alternatives need to be cost-effective or no one will use them. However, many of them seem to be cost-effective in the right circumstances. For example, I’ve heard numbers on rooftop solar suggesting that such installations pay back their costs in 5 – 8 years depending on the installation, but continue to produce power much longer. The “daylighting” skylight folks had very impressive figures — unfortunately, I cannot remember them off the top of my head. Some of the other technologies are being tested. In addition, many jurisdictions are enacting or enforcing more strict environmental requirements (for example, reduction or treatment of stormwater runoff), where it may be cost-effective to build in solutions up front rather than to build the traditional way and then treat the consequences (much storm water ends up having to go through water treatment plants, which is very expensive, when allowing it to percolate into the soil and ultimately into the water table would effectively recharge acquifers over time without the expense of water treatment).

      So, bottom line, I think if one is considering a new building or a rehab, it makes sense to at least cost out the “green” options, and to use them if they make economic as well as environmental sense. Thanks for joining in the discussion.

      Best regards,

      Maura

  2. 3 Tahitijack May 26, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    Starbucks has been using Greenscreen, or something similar for several years. It works well on drive-thru lanes to soften the approach to the service window, especially when the DT lane is routed behind other tenant spaces in a strip center.

  3. 4 Marc Sallette May 26, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    I’m a big fan of solar PV’s and heard that JustEnergyLLC (www.justenergyllc.com) had a booth at ICSC this year. They seem to have a one-stop shopping approach for shopping mall owners to dramatically reduce their electricity costs..

  4. 5 Josie Nava May 28, 2010 at 8:19 am

    practicalcounsel.wordpress.com’s done it once more. Superb writing.

  5. 6 PaulfromGB June 1, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    I have been a huge beliver in Sunoptic’s skylights. In fact, I have them installed in the last two homes I have built. The photo of the store he displayed is one we have under construction. The biggest problem that they have is to get people over the old ideas about skylights. They really add a lot to any space.


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Attorney Advertising. This blog is a periodical publication of Maura O'Connor, a partner of Seyfarth Shaw LLP and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. You are urged to consult a lawyer concerning any specific legal questions you may have. The contents are intended for general information purposes only and represent the individual views of Maura O'Connor only. Any tax information or advice contained herein is not intended to be and cannot be used by any taxpayer to avoid tax penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer.

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