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New low-speed electric vehicle makes its debut By Allison Cooke Oliverius aoliverius@scbiznews.com

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ndrei Cheroff lives on the Isle of Palms and works on Daniel Island. To get to and from work each day, he drives his Volkswagen GTI. But after hours, Cheroff leaves his gas-powered car in the driveway

and gets around in a low-speed electric vehicle made by CT&T and sold in the Lowcountry at Current Electric Vehicles. “It’s a very practical second vehicle,” said Cheroff, who works at the Current Electric Vehicles dealership on Daniel Island. “Compared to gasoline, which is nearly $3 per gallon, you can power one of these vehicles for $7-$10 per month. And you can just plug it right into a household outlet. “Studies show that outside of your daily commute to and from work, most

Photo/Leslie Halpern

people stay within a 10-mile radius of their home to go out to eat, run errands or participate in social activities,” Cheroff added.

Zero oil, no emissions Current Electric Vehicles opened its first showroom on Daniel Island this spring. Called a “living lab,” patrons are encouraged to take the CT&T vehicles it stocks for a test drive. The low-speed vehicles, LSV for short, can travel a maximum of 25 mph on any road in South Carolina with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less. Current Electric Vehicle’s bright showroom on Sportsman’s Island Drive features two models: the e ZONE, which is enclosed and can run up to 80 miles on a single charge; and the c ZONE line, which consists of a variety open-air off-road and street-legal vehicles. The e ZONE and c ZONE are both available in a variety of styles and colors. “ZONE stands for zero oil, no emissions,” said Stuart Fetter of Current Electric Vehicles. “These vehicles are powered by a lithium polymer battery that can be fully charged in four hours using a standard 110-volt plug.” The vehicles also meet National High-

way Traffic Safety Administration regulations and therefore employ numerous safety features that Fetter said makes them stand out from their competition. “This is not a souped-up golf cart,” Fetter said. “This is a low-speed vehicle with a car body, disc brakes and MacPherson struts.” Safety features include seat belts, an unbreakable windshield, turn signals, headlights, front and rear shock-absorbing bumpers. And the e ZONE, which features a driver side airbag option, is the only vehicle in its class that passes international crash test standards for both front and side impacts.

Creative transportation and technology James Parks, vice president of Koreanbased CT&T, said when the company set out to establish a U.S. presence, it quickly set its sights on South Carolina. After taking 18-months to shop around, CT&T, which stands for See VEHICLES, Page 13

Mount Pleasant land trust to help preserve small tracts countywide By Ashley Fletcher Frampton aframpton@scbiznews.com

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he Mount Pleasant Land Conservancy and Charleston County are joining forces to help landowners with properties 30 acres or smaller keep them green forever. The new $1.2 million initiative, part of the Charleston County Greenbelt Program, will allow more property owners countywide to sell or place conservation easements restricting development on their land. The joint effort also means a countywide presence for the Mount Pleasant Land Conservancy, a nonprofit organization created by the town of Mount Pleasant in 2002.

The town created the organization, which has since become independent, to help protect the scenic, natural landscapes that draw people and businesses to the area stretching from the Cooper River to the Santee River. “It kind of comes back to that quality of life in the community,” said John Girault, executive director. “If it is just massive urban sprawl and paved paradise, it’s not going to be attractive.” So far the conservancy has helped protect three parcels totaling about 200 acres. According to Girault, the Mount Pleasant Land Conservancy is different from other local land trusts in that its focus includes urban areas where small but valuable pieces of land, in the path of

development, are ripe for preservation. Most other groups focus on large swaths of land in rural areas, he said. And that’s where the conservancy fits into Charleston County’s new effort to protect more small properties.

Need for the new initiative The Charleston County Greenbelt Program uses a portion of revenue from the county’s half-cent sales tax to preserve open space. County officials expect a total of $95 million to be generated for land preservation over the 25-year life of the sales tax, which voters endorsed in 2004. The county borrowed $60 million of that total in 2007 to get started with See CONSERVANCY, Page 12

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Content s 9

New low-speed electric vehicle makes its debut

9

Mount Pleasant land trust to help preserve small tracts countywide

14

Charleston startup cultivates national audience for green living

in mind. We are proud to be doing our part to be energy conscious and environmentally friendly and we are proof that you can make a difference one square foot at a time.

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Little-known tax credit could save building owners, designers millions

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Local green buildings have an impact on the global community

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Charleston Green Guide 11

Who’s Who in Logistics Top Executive: Jimmy Connelly Address: 137 Acres Drive, Ladson, SC 29456 Phone: 843-818-2332 E-mail: jconnelly@candcwarehouse.com Web Site: www.candcwarehouse.com

C&C Warehouse is forging new, green ground

C

&C Warehouse’s new warehouse and distribution headquarters off College Park Road in Ladson was a year in the making. The design and build process was painstakingly deliberate because owner Jimmy Connelly’s goal was to construct a large facility to serve his distribution and warehouse customers, and build a structure that was as green as possible. As a result, the S.C. Department of Energy has conÀrmed that Connelly has one of the greenest public warehouse facilities in the Charleston region. “I love this building,” Connelly said. “For one thing, I own the building and the land around it. Another is that I have room to expand another 100,000 square feet. I’ve learned a lot about energy efÀciency and conservation in building this building and I’ve implemented as many things as I can afford. I have many things in place that meet LEED certiÀcations and that will not only save the company money, but make money. And I plan to pass those future savings on to my customers in the long-term.” Connelly said a growing number of his customers are concerned about reducing their carbon footprint. And now his company can provide them not only with top-notch services, but peace of mind as well. In the 3,000-square-foot ofÀce, Connelly installed high bay lights and large Áoor-to-ceiling windows to maximize the use of natural sunlight. He implemented a light harvesting system that senses the amount of natural light and adjusts the output of each

Solar power at your Àngertips.

Countertops made from recycled beer bottles.

light Àxture accordingly. Other efÀciencies include a digitally-controlled HVAC system with a built-in humidiÀer. The HVAC units are oversized and were a big investment, but the payoff is that they don’t have to operate at full force to keep the building comfortable. They are also set to operate at a minimum during non-business hours and to gradually adjust the temperature prior to the beginning of a business day. The bathrooms include motion-sensor low-Áow faucets and hand dryers, as well as waterless urinals and dual-Áush toilets. The concrete Áoor is accented with non-toxic stain and carpet was limited to the conference room and ofÀces to absorb noise. The walls, which are insulated with recycled denim, are painted with non-toxic paint. And while most of the ofÀce space is decorated using earth tones, there is a splash of color in the countertops made by Fisher Recycling using recycled beer bottles. Additions this summer will include a system that will pull water from a pond to Áush the toilets. A geo-thermal system will also be installed to circulate cool water from a well through the air conditioning system to ensure further efÀciencies. “This building is energy conscious, energy efÀcient, we use less water and physical energy which lessens our impact on the environment. We recycle. We recycled 330,000 pounds of cardboard in 2009. We are really trying to do our part to preserve the environment,” Connelly said. Keeping employees more comfortable and products cleaner were

important factors in the design of the new facility. The aluminum building includes upgraded insulation and a large exhaust system that pulls air from the open dock doors with the assistance of a Big Ass Fan, which has blades that extend 24 feet. Each of the 150 light Àxtures in the warehouse is equipped with a photo cell that detects motion and an LED sensor that measures the amount of natural light. Both features make sure the lights are activated only when necessary. Connelly’s building also will be one of the Àrst in Berkeley County with solar panels that tie into the electric grid. When the panels are activated, they will generate energy that Connelly will sell to SCE&G. At Àrst, this will result in discounted monthly power bills, based on the amount of energy generated by the panels. But eventually, after more “banks” of solar panels are installed, he will produce enough electricity to generate a proÀt from selling the power back to SCE&G. In addition, Connelly focused on making an otherwise utilitarian building inviting for customers. The landscaping is a big part of this. Bamboo will be used as a border around the property and between the customer reception area and the loading dock. The plants will create an inviting visual and sound barrier from the trucks being unloaded on the docks. “It all adds up and at the end of the day, we’re making a big effort to save energy, do something good for the environment and reduce our carbon footprint. That sets me apart from the guy down the street.”

Recycled denim insulation.


12 Charleston Green Guide CONSERVANCY, continued from Page 9

land conservation. According to Cathy Ruff, director of Greenbelt Programs, the county has spent all but about $2.5 million of that initial amount. County officials will likely consider borrowing the rest next year, she said. For the county, protecting open space in some cases means providing money for other entities, like city governments or community-based nonprofit groups, to buy land outright. In other cases, the county pays landowners for giving up their development rights under conservation easements. A conservation easement forever restricts future use of the land, including details such as how many buildings are allowed, how trees can be cut down and whether property can be subdivided. Some landowners donate an easement, Girault said, meaning they do not receive payment for conceding future development rights – aside from the possibility of tax credits. But to entice landowners who might need some cash from the deal, the county’s Greenbelt Program offers money for the easement. “It’s an opportunity for them to get compensated,” Girault said. Once placed under an easement, land can be transferred to another entity or can remain in private ownership. But either way, a land trust still must be involved to hold the easement and pledge to protect

Mount Pleasant Land Conservancy helped protect 57 acres behind Mount Pleasant Waterworks (top) (Photo/Janice Wald Friedman) and 133 acres next to Charleston National (right).

the property. In fact, it’s up to land trusts to bring properties to the county for consideration. And because many of the land trusts operating locally focus on large parcels, Ruff said that some owners of smaller parcels, in both urban and rural areas, were falling through the cracks. “The whole intention is to provide for these small landowners who have kind of hit a dead end,” Girault said.

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Moving forward Charleston County Council recently approved a recommendation from the Greenbelt Advisory Board setting aside $1.2 million for those parcels and directing interested owners to work with the Mount Pleasant Land Conservancy. “What we needed, they do,” Ruff said about the conservancy’s focus on small parcels.

The county and the conservancy are also charged with raising awareness about the new Greenbelt Program initiative. The Greenbelt Program so far has protected 15,620 total acres of land in Charleston County. Small parcels are among that total. Most of the smaller parcels were located in urban areas and were brought forward by city or town governments, which are allocated money under the Greenbelt Program. Parcels protected under the new initiative can be in urban or rural areas. Girault said the $1.2 million could easily pay for a single property, especially if that land were located in a developed, urban area. But he said the plan is to maximize the money and not spend it all in one place. Land purchased or protected under the county’s program — and, separately, through the Mount Pleasant Land Conservancy’s own efforts — must meet certain criteria regarding conservation value. For example, the land could be a wildlife habitat, located at the headwaters of a body of water, or adjacent to another protected property. Landowners interested in submitting their property under the new initiative for smaller parcels can call Girault at 843884-1060. cr bj

Reach Ashley Fletcher Frampton at 843849-3129.


Charleston Green Guide 13 VEHICLES, continued from Page 9

creative transportation and technology, announced in June it would invest $21 million to set up an assembly and distribution center in Spartanburg and create 370 jobs over the next five years. “The support coming from South Carolina and the governor was much stronger than Florida, Alabama, California and Pennsylvania,” Parks said. The new assembly plant will be adjacent to the Spartanburg Community College’s Tyger River campus, and the school will work with the company to train workers and develop the company’s new plant. The facility will produce anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 units a year depending on market demands.

Target market Parks said CT&T and Current Electric Vehicles decided on Charleston for the first dealership because it is home to numerous communities where golf carts are already used for transportation, and because it is a tourist destination. Along these lines, the first vehicle Current Electric Vehicles sold went to a homeowner on Dewees Island and the company sold a fleet of vehicles to a car rental company. Since opening the Daniel Island showroom in April, a second location has opened on Kiawah Island and a third is in the works for Hilton

The e ZONE vehicles are 101 inches long, 57 inches wide and weigh just over 1,100 pounds. This model offers a range of up to 80 miles with a single charge. (Photo/Leslie Halpern)

Head Island. The goal is to have locations up and down the South Carolina coast. Fetter said they are targeting customers who “work, play and live within a 20-mile radius” and are interested in reducing their carbon footprint. “It’s about knowing what you want out of life,” Fetter said. “We want clean air, and we want Charleston to be a top 10 green city in the country.”

The c ZONE comes in a range of models for personal and commercial use. (Photo/Leslie Halpern)

Stimulus package

Future plans

The federal government is offering a 10% tax credit on qualified electric vehicles purchased before Jan. 1, 2012. In addition to this incentive, Current Electric Vehicles is offering a $3,000 discount on the first 300 vehicles it has in stock. “The regular price for models range from $14,000 to $25,000,” Fetter said, “And this discount is right off of the top.”

Currently, South Carolina law prohibits neighborhood electric vehicles like CT&Ts from going above 25 mph. But some states have passed legislation allowing them travel up to 35 mph and Park and Fetter hope South Carolina will follow suit. cr bj

Reach Allison Cooke Oliverius at 843-8493149.


14 Charleston Green Guide

Charleston startup cultivates national audience for green living By Andy Owens aowens@scbiznews.com

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Charleston-area startup company is marketing a nearly clear, slightly smelly liquid to a national audience of backyard gardeners and plant growers looking for safe, green ways to grow. That smell, similar to the loamy scent of freshly turned soil, means living microbes are swirling around, ready to do the job they’re been doing since green plants appeared on the earth. Surya Biofertilizers, which is headquartered in the Flagship incubator of the Charleston Digital Corridor, was formed as an exclusive North American distributor of organic, microbial-based fertilizers designed to recondition soil and wean it off of chemical fertilizers. The company has two employees and a warehouse on Daniel Island. The company’s marketing material shows how traditional chemical fertilizers degrade soil quality, which means

By being pet and kid friendly, Surya Biofertilizers’ line of green living products is aimed at backyard gardeners and residential growers, but the company can serve commercial customers as well.

they must be used more frequently and in increasing quantities over time. Surya Executive Vice President Joe Bryan said that leaves soil sterile and increases the

chance water sources or living creatures will be exposed to chemicals in petroleum-based fertilizers. “No one ever fertilized the rain forest,”

Bryan said, making the point that Surya’s products use the same process found in nature to help restore the ground’s natural growth cycles. Surya’s products are based on an organic fertilization process that has been used in Asian agriculture for nearly 20 years, he said. The result is a safe, effective way to grow plants and crops safely around your children and pets. Nearly two years after forming, Surya Biofertilizers has positioned itself to spread its microbial infused products across the country and eventually go after larger commercial agriculture customers. “I would describe it as a green living product,” said Jon Yarian, a marketing consultant working with Surya. “This is something you’re going to use in your backyard on Logan Street.” The company has gone through the process of getting approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees imports of the product, and from 30 states, including South Carolina, and has


Charleston Green Guide 15

been certified by the Organic Materials and they began intensive training in Review Institute. sustainable agriculture, including such OMRI certification is critical to any aspects as harvesting, sales and planting, company making and selling green in April. products. With that certification, Surya products can be used on operations that Beyond fertilizers As Surya cements its core products, are certified organic under the USDA the company plans to expand what it National Organic Program. “It validates the all-natural, clean and offers in the green living industry. Bryan environmentally friendly nature of our said the company won’t have to develop or search hard to find these potential products that we claim,” Bryan said. Bryan said the past two years has been offerings. “We don’t have to because they’re spent getting the required certifications already out there,” he said. “We just have and refining the company’s message. “We’re pleased with the progress we’ve to decide which of those products makes made,” he said. “One of the things we’ve sense.” In three to five years, Surya would like done is establish a very, very strong to have its own manufacturing operabrand.” Bryan said the company is going tions in the U.S. Right now, all of its through the regulatory process in other products come in through the Port of states that require it, but expects to be Charleston. Bryan said the location of a selling and shipping products across manufacturing facility would depend on North America. Today, customers can several factors. “The intention would be to have it buy Surya’s products online at www. suryagrow.com and at Royal Hardware here if at all possible,” Bryan said. in Mount Pleasant. Bryan said the most Not a typical successful model for startup “green living” prod“I would describe it as a By having its ucts has been to sign headquarters in the with distributors in green living product.This Digital Corridor’s different regions of incubator, Surya is the country. These distributors serve is something you’re going surrounded by hightech and knowledgenurseries, retail growing centers, sod to use in your backyard on based companies that have become almost farms and feed and Logan Street.” the standard fare for seed companies as a entrepreneurs in the local wholesaler. Jon Yarian region. Technology Though Surya, marketing consultant can catapult a smart which means “sun” company with high in Hindi, operates as a wholesaler and doesn’t have a retail growth and very little cost. Other types of startups need technollocation, the business has fulfillment and ogy even if they aren’t writing software, drop-ship capability. “It’s more logistical in the end,” Bryan said Bryan. A company at the stage Surya finds said. itself need may a big Internet connecBackyardigans tion, warehouse space, telephones and Surya’s appeal is different for resi- affordable office space but not a large dential customers who want something commercial building. focused on “not just being sustainable, “Lots of opportunities like this are in but being safe and green,” Bryan said. Charleston to start a lot of businesses Large-scale agribusiness companies that are typically not in Charleston,” are typically more risk averse, which Bryan said. means they’ll be more reluctant to But Bryan and co-founder Jonathan change how they are growing plants for Butler aren’t far removed from those the U.S. market. Bryan doesn’t think that types of companies either. Butler was will keep the company’s products out one of the founding partners of Autoof that market, and Surya has the abil- mated Trading Desk, and Bryan was one ity to import larger sizes for commercial of the founders of avVenta Worldwide customers. Backyard growers represent and started his own company prior to the most immediate growth area for the that. Bryan said they brought the highcompany since they are less reluctant to tech startup approach to Surya because try something if it’s safer. it’s what they had experienced. Surya also has pledged to donate “You could say we didn’t know any20% of its local retail sales revenue to thing different from the companies we support Lowcountry Local First’s new have been engaged in,” he said. “I think it farming incubator program. The Grow- gives us an edge in ensuring the products ing New Farmers Incubator Program that we bring to market are well founded aims to support and train sustainable and well supported. We’re not afraid that farmers. this is not an Internet business.” The program selected three participants for an apprenticeship program, Reach Andy Owens at 843-849-3141. cr bj

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16 Charleston Green Guide

Who’s Who in Landscape Design

Pleasant Places covers G

uy Artigues, president of Pleasant Places – along with his 125+ employees, fleet of 75 trucks and other equipment all designed to make a location’s grounds pleasing and appealing – says his company is especially well equipped to handle the bigger landscaping work: construction, irrigation and hardscaping, which includes brick paving and building retaining walls. “We do any type of construction that has to do with the landscape,” he says. “Our construction division is extremely talented. The only thing we won’t do is the house or building.” Robert Bryant, vice president of operations, says the construction

division is divided into three areas: irrigation, installation and hardscape and employees about 30 people. “Sometimes we have as many as 60 people working in that division, depending on the particular job,” says Bryant. “Our construction division has a group of very talented team members that do a wide range of work, from any type of horizontal concrete to installation of pavers, curbs, gutters and that type of work.” Some of the recent construction work includes a large project for the City of Goose Creek sidewalks, upgrades at Seabrook Island, driveways at Dunes West, concrete sidewalks for the new Boeing facility and a very large landscaping installation job at the new Roper Hospital in Mount Pleasant. “One job we’re especially proud of is the reflecting pond walkway project at Charleston Southern University,” says Bryant. “We were extremely proud to have been selected to do that job and to partner with the university, and we’ll be looking after that reflecting pond for them for a long time.” Bryant, who oversaw the grounds and maintenance group in public works at Camp David in the late 1990s, has an eye for detail.

“Both Guy and I have a very meticulous eye,” he says. “That’s important in this kind of work. We are proud to live and work in the Lowcountry, and when we take our family around town, we want them to be proud to say my, son, daughter, farther, mother, or family member is working at Pleasant Places and they did that work.”

Top Local Executive and Key Contact: Guy Artigues, President www.pleasantplaces.com

Also important are the people on the team, what Artigues calls “the talented, dedicated and loyal team members. They’re the ones who make it all possible.” “Success in life doesn’t happen without good people behind us,” says Bryant. “We’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of really


Charleston Green Guide 17

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more than just ground the business to gain maximum production,” he says.

hardscape for homes under construction.

The company also places a high value on the loyalty of its customers.

Artigues has been in the landscaping business since high school and has grown the company to an all-time growth in 2007. This year, as the economy begins to recover, it will be a slow growth year, although he says that has only made the company leaner and better.

“The trust that we built with them in the good and the bad times is critical,” says Bryant. “We’ve shown them that when times were tough we were still there and we’ve given 110 percent. We are solid and we have no plans on anything else but success and we plan to grow in many markets even in these trying economic times.” Artigues says that loyalty is part of the enthusiasm and vision, which is one of the company’s core values and key strengths.

“We’re working smarter and not taking anything for granted, whether it’s our customers or our employees,” he says. “Tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us. We’re excited about the work we’re doing, and that will keep us successful in the long run.”

“When we sign with a customer, we truly partner with them and share their vision,” he says. “We’re as committed to their success as they are.”

good people. This is a family-run business, and everyone is treated like family.” He commends Renee Artigues, noting that her talent has provided stability to the Pleasant Places family and her organization and administration of all facets of the office as well as

raising two young children. He also points to David Williams, the man in charge of construction division, as a shining example of the company’s future. “He was builder of the year for Leland Homes in 2007, and he’s a very talented man who has a gift of working multiple dynamics of

In business since 1984, Pleasant Places is one of the oldest active full-service landscape companies in the area, offering landscape construction, design, hardscape and concrete work, irrigation and maintenance for commercial and industrial sites. For residential customers, maintenance is provided for those with multiple homes, and the company provides all installation of irrigation, landscape and

449 Long Point Road Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464 (843) 881-3430 • Fax (843) 884-7671


18 Charleston Green Guide

Little-known tax credit could save building owners, designers millions By Daniel Brock dbrock@scbiznews.com

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little-known federal tax deduction could put millions of dollars back in the pockets of Lowcountry building owners and designers who have taken steps to increase their projects’ energy efficiency. Section 179D of the Internal Revenue Code affords substantial breaks for the use of energy-saving features in commercial buildings constructed or remodeled between 2006 and 2013. But the provision is rarely utilized in South Carolina — or nationally — according to the staff of Charleston’s largest accounting firm, Dixon Hughes PLLC. “It’s not well advertised and it’s not well understood,” said Robert Bradham, a member of the Dixon Hughes office here.

Qualifying is one thing... At its core, the program is fairly simple: Deductions of up to $1.80 per square

foot can be made for buildings that meet 2001 federal energy requirements. Designers can rack up points on lighting, hot water systems, energy management systems and outer walls and ceilings, according to federal documents. If conservation measures reduce a building’s energy costs by 50%, the deduction totals the full $1.80. If costs are lowered by less than half, partial credit is still available. In recent years, most states have instituted building codes that are on a par with more stringent 2004 standards. That means the majority of buildings built during the program’s allotted timeframe are eligible for at least a partial deduction, Bradham said. An example scenario: If Boeing Co.’s new 1.2-million-square-foot final 787 Dreamliner facility in North Charleston fully qualified for 179D deductions, it would save the aerospace giant almost $2.2 million. Project officials said the facility will receive a LEED Silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. The coun-

cil awards ratings to buildings that meet above-average energy standards. Last week, a Boeing spokeswoman said she was unsure if the company was making use of the rebates. “It’s odd that companies aren’t taking advantage of this,” said Rudy Thomas, another Dixon Hughes member. He and Bradham manage the firm’s 179D projects around the country. The deductions went to effect in 2006 and were originally limited to buildings constructed or improved between then and 2008. Congress extended the measure last year. The incentives apply to both private and government-owned structures, such as schools, prisons or military buildings. Those types of facilities have tighter guidelines that already call for increased energy efficiencies — and practically guarantee designers rebates going in. Firms that design qualifying buildings for the government are set up to collect credits because public entities don’t pay taxes, experts said. Private project deductions go to building owners. Non-

profit organizations aren’t eligible for any deductions and therefore cannot participate in the program. No matter who stands to benefit, eligibility requirements are not overly stringent, according to the Dixon Hughes members. Buildings don’t have to qualify for exhaustive LEED certification, and they often don’t have to be any more efficient than the current building code to reap the program’s benefits. “People say, ‘We didn’t build green, we shouldn’t bother applying.’ That’s not the case,” Thomas said. Equipment as simple as fluorescent light bulbs or occupancy sensors that turn off lights automatically when no one is in a room can be the first step toward thousands of dollars in deductions.

... Collecting is another There are hoops to jump through before collecting rebates, and that’s where North Carolina-headquartered Dixon Hughes comes in. Typically, building owners or design-

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Charleston Green Guide 19

ers have to hire multiple companies to perform in-depth —and expensive — 179D eligibility studies on projects. Dixon Hughes has partnered with Michigan-based consultant Energy Design Services Systems, a move aimed at streamlining a process that includes mountains of paper work and tax returns. A certified energy consultant, such as Energy Design, is required to verify energy savings features in buildings and file lengthy reports. Dixon Hughes members describe the combined service as “turn-key.” “We’ve simplified an otherwise complex process,” Bradham said.

Plan in action A local company that has taken advantage of the deductions is LS3P Associates Ltd. The Charleston-based architecture firm last year found it had more than 30 buildings that qualify at least partially for the rebates. Officials for the company declined to say how much they were expecting to receive from current and amended tax returns, but associate principal Greg Soyka said it was a “significant” amount. “It’s really an amazing system where you get money back that you already paid. We thought that money was gone,”

Soyka said. “It’s making a tremendous difference in our tax situation. Tremendous,” he said. LS3P is claiming deductions on about a third of its eligible buildings, but not MUSC’s Ashley River Tower. That structure qualified, but the total from selected projects will be enough to zero-out LS3P’s state and federal tax returns for the last six years without it, according to Soyka. A provision in the program allows owners and designers to claim deductions before 2006, if their write-off totals exceed taxable income after 179D was implemented. “It’s almost too good to be true, and if the economy wasn’t so bad for architects right now, I’d feel guilty,” he said. LS3P officials had been aware of the deduction program almost since its inception, but during boom years in the mid-2000s had been too busy to focus on time-consuming and complicated tax issues. When business slowed last year, LS3P stopped to evaluate the provision. The firm eventually signed Dixon Hughes and Energy Design Services Systems to help navigate the deduction process. “It’s the best decision I made all year,” Soyka said.

L

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College, Lowcountry Local First and the Charleston Green Fair. Any size business in the Charleston area can participate and while the year-long program kicks off at the Charleston Green Fair’s Best in Green & Local Expo Aug. 6, businesses have until Dec. 31 to sign up. Once a business registers, the owner will fill out a preliminary “scorecard” for baseline figures in various environmental and social categories. From the scorecard, the business will create a plan in order to attain certain goals. Throughout the year, business owners and employees will learn and adopt new sustainable business practices through a range of voluntary programs and workshops hosted by the city and its GBC partners. At the end of the challenge, another scorecard will be filled out. The business will analyze and interpret the changes it has made throughout the year. From this, the business can determine energy savings and dollar savings it accumulated. Businesses that have achieved a certain criteria and attained the most green scorecard “points” will be recognized and awarded at the 2011 Charleston Best in Green and Local Expo. For more information and to participate, contact Carolee Williams at 843724-3776 or williamsc@charleston-sc.gov.

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Participation in Green Business Challenge may lead to bottom-line savings ast year, the city of Chicago launched a program to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. With the help of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA, it created a plan that engaged downtown businesses in a friendly challenge to save water and energy, reduce waste and become environmentally aware. About 150 businesses participated in the voluntary one-year program and achieved these results: • Reduced energy consumption by more than 72 million kilowatt-hours. • Kept more than 54,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. • Reduced water usage by more than 5%. • Diverted more than 1,200 tons of materials from landfills. Chicago’s success prompted ICLEI to launch a pilot program to see if the concept can be replicated across the U.S. The city of Charleston was selected to participate. Called the Green Business Challenge, the local program will be managed by the city’s Sustainability Division of the Planning, Preservation and Sustainability Department. It has partnered with Charleston County, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Sustainability Institute, Trident Technical

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20 Charleston Green Guide

Local green buildings have an impact on the global community By Allison Cooke Oliverius aoliverius@scbiznews.com

W

hen people consider the advantages of building a green structure, there are the obvious ones the owner often experiences including tax credits, lower utility bills and increased property value — as well as knowing they’ve done something to help the environment. However the construction of a green building impacts everyone in a community, said Jenny Wiedower, executive director of the U.S. Green Building Council’s South Carolina chapter. “It’s not just about the building owners saving money or feeling good about a contribution,” she said. “Not only is a green building using fewer resources and causing less harm to the environment, it’s a healthier and more pleasant experience for everyone that occupies or goes into that building. “Even small projects have a global impact,” she said. “Even if I never go inside a green building that has been built, I know it’s had an impact because somewhere coal hasn’t been harvested as much to power that building. It’s a green building in the local sense, but it can benefit everyone in the global sense.”

Increased productivity The Environmental Protection Agency has classified indoor air quality as one of the top five environmental concerns facing our country. Green buildings are generally healthier buildings, meaning they are built using nontoxic materials and equipped with efficient heating and cooling systems and moisture control systems. “The payback that often isn’t included in a business owner’s ROI in a green building is the reduced sick time that the employees and occupants experience, which can lead to lower insurance premiums. Healthier people leads to higher productivity, and in schools especially, higher test scores, better performing students and better performing teachers,” Wiedower said.

Built to last Buildings and renovation projects that are built to green standards are built to last, Wiedower said. “If you are going to invest more on a building on the front end, you are less likely to tear it down and send materials to the landfill,” she said. “You are not building a disposable building, which was a sad pattern we developed.” Wiedower added that durable buildings cost less to operate because there is less maintenance, and she said green buildings are more resilient to natural disasters.

Top: Harris Teeter anchors Rivertown Place, the first LEED-registered shopping center in South Carolina. (Photo provided) Right: The GreenHouse Learning Center. (Photo provided)

Does it have to be LEED to be beneficial? The Sustainability Institute recently unveiled an expanded office space for its Energy Conservation Corps. The 800-square-foot home was bought by the Institute in 2002 and given a green makeover then. But the space was recently expanded and additional green features were implemented so the GreenHouse can serve as an office space and a teaching tool for locals. The building is not certified by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. “That was intentional,” said Brian Cordell, executive director of the Institute. “We wanted to use technologies that are very affordable and could be used by the average consumer. That was our motive in the renovation.” “All green building programs are good in that they provide you with a pathway to a green building,” Cordell said. “They are all a pathway to the energy-savings results you are trying to achieve.” The following are examples of green buildings in the Charleston area.

GreenHouse Learning Center The Sustainability Institute East Montague Avenue, North Charleston Occupants of the former residence, which was built in the 1940s, paid utility bills upwards of $245 per month for the. But when the Sustainability Institute purchased the home in 2002 and turned it into an office, it installed a number energy saving features. The organization’s utility bills dropped to about $45 per month. Cordell said it took them 1 ½ years to complete the latest renovation and that much of the time was spent in material selection. He also said they formed partnerships with various businesses that donated materials for the project. “The renovations were done for educational purposes and it shows a range of

technology choices and material choices. We used local artisans and suppliers. Virtually everything we used came from within a 500-mile radius. The latest round of improvements include Structural Insulated Panel wall systems, LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, spray foam insulation, salvaged wood and cork flooring, sustainable cabinets, desks and work stations made from pressed and recycled paper. It also features furniture made from local artisans, a rainwater catchment system to collect rainwater that is used to flush the toilets, low- and no-emitting paint and finishes and a native plant landscape. The building is open to the public and open for tours Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Free monthly educational workshops on sustainability are also offered at the GreenHouse. “We want people to come and see the building so they can be educated on material choices and how to make their homes more energy efficient, healthy and environmentally friendly,” Cordell said.

To find out more information on the services and programs offered by The Sustainability Institute and the South Carolina chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, visit www.sustainability institutesc.org and www.usgbcsc.org.

als were manufactured within 500 miles of the store, 95% of all construction waste was recycled and 50% of all wood used during construction came from certified sustainable forests. Freezer cases were designed with LED lighting and water saving devices were installed in all of the water fixtures. The store is 18% more energy efficient than the industry average and uses 65% less refrigerant load. It also has preferential parking for hybrid and low-emitting vehicles. cr bj

LEED certified projects in the tri-county region Project Title

Certified

The Urban Alliance Studio

Certified

Just Fresh - Seaside

Certified

North Charleston Elementary School

Silver

Half-Moon Outfitters Distribution Center

Platinum

Woolpert Office

Certified

WPC Inc.

Rivertowne Place Fox Capital Partners Highway 41, Mount Pleasant A shopping center that was designed according to environmentally friendly standards is now open on S.C. 41 in Mount Pleasant. Rivertowne Place, developed by Greenville-based Fox Capital Partners, is anchored by a 55,000-square-foot Harris Teeter grocery store. Three other tenants — O’Brion’s Pub & Grille, Rivertowne Spirits and Julius Alterations & Cleaners — are scheduled to open this summer, according to the developer. The 75,000-square-foot shopping center, which sits on 18 acres, is registered for LEED certification. The grocery store is the third LEED-registered store in the Harris Teeter chain. More than 20% of all building materi-

Certification Level

Edisto Beach State Park Education Center

The Navy Yard at Noisette

Gold Certified

Did you know? •

South Carolina lawmakers in 2007 passed measures that require any new public construction project to be built to LEED Silver certification standards. This includes new public construction over 10,000 square feet, major public renovation projects involving greater than 50% of the building, and K-12 schools. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification can take anywhere from 9 months to years, depending on the time it takes a company to implement various measures.


Charleston Green Guide 21

SAVE UP TO 40% OR MORE ON YOUR ENERGY BILL!

Eco-brokers suggest using countertops made of recycled glass (left) and tiles made from limestone (right) as an alternative to higher-gas emitting materials such as granite. (Photos provided)

Eco-brokers tout benefits of eco-friendly homes By Jonathan Rivers jrivers@scbiznews.com

T

here is a growing trend in the real estate industry for agents that specialize in eco-friendly homes. Called eco-brokers, these agents are certified by the Association of Energy and Environmental Real Estate Professionals and trained in green construction and real estate practices. While eco-brokers are not excluded from promoting and selling traditional homes, the emphasis lies in marketing the beneficial aspects of green materials and construction practices that are both sustainable and environmentally friendly. Eco-friendly construction is geared towards producing more energy efficient, more durable and healthier homes as opposed to traditional building practices, according to Gary Bissett, manager of Agent Owned Park Circle, one of the first real estate companies in the area to market the benefits of energy efficient homes to mainstream consumers. “Many people don’t even know they’re in the market for a green home until they realize they can save 30 to 40 percent on utilities and energy costs,” said Bissett, who is co-principal of the eco-friendly brokerage with his wife Melissa. He added that certain green building materials used in new homes or remodeling projects are more durable, repel moisture and maintain longevity for much longer that traditional materials. One green builder in the Charleston area employing such innovative building materials is Aeonian Brick Homes. Aeonian has created an interlocking brick made of sustainable compressed earth that can be used in place of dry wall, wooden framing and exterior building materials. The insulation characteristics of this brick can help people save money

Home Energy Audits and Solutions

on utilities and are often relatively affordable, according to the company.

On the market For those looking to sell their home, there are a range of ways to market the green aspects of your home for a higher “green” resale value. Diane Szoke, realtor and co-owner of Charleston Your Home, a Charleston-area real estate firm with several eco-brokers on staff, recommends taking such steps as installing LED lighting for energy efficiency and using cork flooring for its insulation and sustainable qualities. Green real estate is also characterized by a lack of air pollutants and eco-brokers can market the use of lower gas emitting materials such as countertops made of recycled glass or limestone instead of granite. If replacing your countertop is not in the budget, Szoke recommends installing plants such as a rubber plant, fica or bamboo palm to absorb the dangerous chemicals. Despite the benefits of green homes, the real estate market in all facets has been down for some time and eco-brokers have struggled along with everyone else. According to Bissett, what has been even more difficult in the wake of market conditions has been traditional homebuilders’ and brokers’ ability to market and utilize more environmentally friendly building strategies, despite not holding official designations as “eco-brokers” or green builders. And while the eco-friendly homes market has faltered with the others, the vision is more long term. “Green homes are the homes of the future,” Bissett said. “All in all, the homes we’re selling are more durable, healthier and maintain their value for much longer than traditional homes,” he added. cr bj

Reach Jonathan Rivers at 843-849-3119.

843-324-8973 • joe@jbellhomes.net w www.energybell.net • www.jbellhomes.net HERS Certified Rater • BPI Certified Rater • Energy Star Home Rater SC Builders Lic# 23851


22 Charleston Green Guide

LAST CHANCE TO NOMINATE Presented by:

WHO ARE CHARLESTON’S MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMEN IN BUSINESS? On October 21st, the Charleston Regional Business Journal will answer that question by recognizing local women who have demonstrated professional excellence and leadership in their careers and community service. We are accepting nominations in the following categories: Business Owner/CEO • Executive • Rising Star • Volunteer • Philanthropist

Nominate an outstanding businesswoman now through Aug. 13 at www.charlestonbusiness.com.

We invite you to be our partner in honoring these women by sponsoring the 2010 Influential Women in Business. For event sponsorship information, contact Kathy Allen at 843.849.3113

Partner:


Charleston Green Guide 23

Eco-Based Companies % ! % !"

These industry-speciďŹ c lists appear in each issue of the Charleston Regional Business Journal. To update your company information or to be added to the list, call Clayton Wynne at 843-849-3114 or update online at www.charlestonbusiness.com/update_lists/.

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Prepare for Green Careers Green is red hot. Government agencies as well as homebuyers are looking for ways to make homes and buildings greener, with an overall goal of sustaining natural resources and increasing energy efÂżciency. Trident Technical College offers a full roster of green courses: | | | | |

Building Science Level I Building Performance Institute (BPI) Building Analyst BPI Envelope Professional IAST Weatherization Technician Reducing Energy Use and Cost TTC also offers online green courses. Visit www.tridenttech.edu/ce.htm or call 843.574.6177 for more information.

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24 Charleston Green Guide

Event

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20 10

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2010 Charleston Green Guide  

A guide to area businesses, individuals and organizations that are making progress with the environment in mind.This was originally a specia...

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