San Diego-based Reno Contracting reports the launch of Reno ESP (Efficient Sustainable Practices), a new business group providing a complete range of “green” building services to the commercial real estate market.

Reno says the new group was formed to help commercial building owners enhance the energy and environmental efficiencies of their new and existing buildings while driving down operating costs.

“Our mission is to make buildings more attractive to tenants and buyers, and more economic to maintain, while also protecting the environment,” says Walt Fegley, president of Reno Contracting and Reno ESP. “Increasingly, ‘building performance’ is becoming a key factor. An owner can command higher rental premiums, as well as enhance the value of the building, if it is more sustainable in terms of energy usage and water conservation.”

To introduce Reno ESP and its alliance of contractors, Reno is offering a free Energy Star benchmark to Southern California building owners. California Assembly Bill 1003 requires that all commercial buildings in California have an Energy Star rating before they are leased, refinanced, or sold, starting July 1, 2010. Using utility consumption data, the Reno ESP program not only provides an Energy Star rating, but helps facility managers benchmark and track usage in the future.

Reno Contracting says it is one of the top LEED contractors in San Diego. In 2007, the company constructed the first LEED certified Shell and Core building in the county and has added seven more to its portfolio since that time. Reno ESP builds on that unique level of experience, says Fegley, a LEED-accredited professional, one of 12 working at the company. “ESP combines our own LEED expertise with the region’s top experts in mechanical and electrical engineering, energy modeling, and commissioning as well as the relatively new discipline of solar energy system design and construction,” he says.

To obtain the coveted LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings must meet energy efficiency standards and use fewer natural resources during and after construction.

National studies show that Energy Star rated buildings command a 10% premium over non-retrofit buildings, while LEED-certified retrofitted buildings command price premiums averaging 31% higher than non-retrofitted buildings.

“In fact, many top corporations will not lease buildings that are not LEED certified because of their concern about the environment and desire to promote positive environmental stewardship in their communities,” says Keith Coe, President of San Diego-based Quality Iron Products Inc., a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, and a Reno ESP partner. Quality Iron specializes in the fabrication and installation of structural steel, ornamental iron and miscellaneous metals, and has the ability to work within an efficient low cost structural system for ESP’s sustainable energy projects.

Commercial buildings consume 18% of the nation’s energy production, so retrofitting existing structures represent one of the largest opportunities for energy efficiency improvements and reduction in carbon emissions, says Fegley.

Lower energy costs also help owners weather the current economic downturn, Reno says.

San Diego County alone counts more than 2,200 office buildings encompassing more than 96 million sq ft of space and more than 1,200 R&D buildings encompassing more than 40 million sq ft of space. Fegley also notes that federal, state and local governments, as well as utilities, offer owners rebates and other incentives to help cover the cost of a green retrofit, which lessens the capital costs of such improvements.