Economic Roundtable Focusing on Energy Efficiency in the Denver Marketplace Sparks New Insights
By Danny Sprague, Sr. Project Engineer for Haynes Mechanical Systems
Denver’s commercial real estate market continues to evolve at a lightning pace. Changes are flying at building owners from every possible angle. New tax laws, local mandates, environmental regulations, financial rules and treatments, and a continuing push for energy efficiency all challenge the market’s ability to keep up.
That is why on May 23, 2018, Haynes University (a division of Haynes Mechanical Systems, Inc.) and The Denver 2030 District partnered to bring together some of the brightest minds in the commercial real estate world for a lively discussion that covered a variety of topics relevant to building owners and professionals.
Attendees, which included some of the top property management firms, financial professionals, key vendors, and policy makers in Colorado, were guided through three different conversations at Coors Field. The areas of focus were Financial Tools, Local Initiatives, and the ever present challenge of Why Change? The roundtable formatted discussion allowed for a collaborative exchange of ideas and perspectives from Denver’s professional real estate community. Key professionals were able to discuss what had worked for them, what had not, why they made certain decisions, and their outlook on how these changes would affect the market. Subject matter experts were available in all of the discussions to answer questions and facilitate further conversation.
Keynote speaker Kathleen Staks, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office, kicked the event off by speaking to the audience about Colorado’s Leadership role in energy efficiency and the impact energy has on the micro/macro economy. Highlighting the current partnerships between local government and business professionals, that is putting Colorado at the forefront of the national energy efficiency discussion, Staks discussed changes in the oil, transportation, commercial, and residential sectors. More specifically Staks spoke about the State’s proactive investment in programs keeping Colorado a national leader in the energy market.
An apparent underlying theme throughout the day’s conversations, and the main focus from Staks, much of the discussion revolved around the economic impacts of energy in real estate; what it means to the individual property owner; the impact on the economy; and how investors can leverage its benefits. Experience levels varied greatly among the group; some of the attendees were seasoned veterans leading the way through all of these changes, while some were still learning where to begin. This provided for a diverse dialogue in which attendees were able to walk away armed with new information and strategies strengthening their ability to leverage market programs to drive better economic results.
Several of the attendees commented on the benefit of hearing firsthand accounts from peers that had navigated some of the more complicated topics in the marketplace such as C-PACE, EPA refrigerant phase out mandates, Energize Denver, the green roof initiative, etc. Attendees were able to question about how some investors were using these programs/tools and what their experience was like. As with any new development, experience is limited and therefore, subject to misinterpretation. The combination of firsthand knowledge and subject matter experts in the rooms helped deepen understanding as to how these items can best be leveraged.
As the conversation concluded, it became clear that the marketplace could benefit from more ‘roundtable’ collaboration events like this; situations where local leaders can come together when the stakes are low, to discuss these topics, gain critical insight, and keep Denver and the Front Range as leaders in the fast paced national commercial real estate market.
Thank you to subject matter experts Adam Knoff of Unico Properties and the Board Chair for Denver 2030 District, Bob MaCauley from Xcel Energy, Tracy Phillips from C-PACE, Mike Fitzgerald from EKS&H, Patty Mason from the USGBC, Saulsbury Financial, Adam Perkins from the Downtown Denver Partnership, and Danny Sprague, Joel Winstead, and Jason Kiper from Haynes Mechanical. A special thank you to Coors Field, a member of The Denver 2030 District, for permitting the event to be hosted at their spectacular venue.
Photos courtesy of Haynes