CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate management company, is set to announce a one-million dollar grant competition to spur innovation and disruptive change to improve the energy performance of commercial buildings.  With buildings accounting for anywhere between 30-40 percent of our total domestic energy use, consuming substantial water resources and producing significant waste and emissions, transformative change is imperative.

There is no shortage of commercial initiatives and academic research tackling the twin challenges of designing and constructing ultra-efficient, green buildings and catalyzing productive and healthy workers and occupants. The standards and sustainability ethos associated with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and U.S. EPA Energy Star are strong examples for the future of our building stock. Government stimulus programs and foundations such as the Clinton Global Initiative provide financial incentives to improve energy efficiency and the resiliency of buildings from the impacts of climate change. Are these initiatives sufficiently focused on accelerating change, or, are we facing a fragmented group of actors each with inadequate resources to tackle the challenge at hand?   

Enter the CBRE Real Green Research Challenge. The Real Green Research Challenge will award $1,000,000 to fund independent and academic research from all sources from anywhere in the world seeking disruptive solutions to the building industry’s most pressing environmental problems. Productivity studies, large-scale predictive modeling, energy efficiency technologies, data analytics and market-wide sustainability scoring schemes are among the many themes the contest hopes to stir and achieve innovation. By providing funding to the best research and development ideas and access to CBRE’s managed real estate portfolio and building performance data, the Research Challenge hopes to create outcomes and/or products that result in tangible change and sustainable impact on the commercial estate market.

Do you have a million dollar idea to share? Look for the announcement during Climate Week NYC, September 24-30, 2012 and stay current checking the website I am honored to have been chosen for the judging panel, and I’m looking forward to reviewing your submissions and helping to select a winner!

— Christopher Thomas, Senior Consultant