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The Greener Side of Commercial Real Estate Investment

The Greener Side of Commercial Real Estate Investment

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By Elaine VonCannon, ABR, SRES, Associate Broker, Notary, Team Leader, Property Manager, Award Winning Agent

Increase Your Profits With Sustainable Commercial Building

In 2007 green building practices are gaining popularity at an accelerated rate. The American consciousness of environmental issues has changed and the financial benefits of building, living and working green are becoming more attractive to residential and commercial real estate investors. Green design spotlights a variety of environmental and human health concerns.

  • Reduction of exposure to toxic materials
  • Conservation of non-renewable energy and materials
  • Minimization of the ecological impact of building
  • Utilization of renewable energy and recycled or earth-friendly materials
  • Protection of local water, air, soil, plants and animals
  • Support of transportation alternatives including walking, bicycles, mass transit and alternative fuels

Many people are also surprised to discover that in 2007 green design and building often costs the same as building more traditional designs. According to the July 2007 issue of Today's Buyer's Rep, in an article entitled Housing Trends Worth Watching by editor Julie Collins, a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) shows that 97,000 homes have been built and certified by green building programs around the U.S. This is a 50% increase from the last survey conducted in 2004. The Santa Monica Green Building Program, reports, "Buildings have impacts on health as well as the environment. It is estimated that half of all commercial buildings suffer from air quality problems, resulting in poorer health of workers and other occupants".

Green Building and Design Options for Commercial Property Investments

In the commercial real estate industry economics and financial profit play an important part in green building. Businesses, corporations and investors are more likely to invest in green building if they know it will increase their bottom line. According to Commercial Investment Real Estate Magazine, "When analyzing green economics, commercial real estate professionals should consider long-term operating and maintenance costs. These factors are beginning to affect leases, insurance rates, loans, and other real estate practices as tenants, owners, banks, and communities recognize energy efficiency's value". As technology advances and improves the performance of lighting, heating, cooling and water systems the operating costs of buildings will decrease. This will attract tenants and increase the value of your commercial property to future investors. When building or purchasing a green commercial design look for the following:

  1. Energy Efficient Lighting Systems
  2. High Performance Glazing
  3. Ventilation Systems
  4. Water Efficiency Systems
  5. Green building materials (i.e. recycled materials or materials from renewable resources)

Incentives for Commercial Green Building

Increased profitability is the number one reason commercial real estate investors are moving towards more green building and design features. According to Building Momentum: National Trends For High Performance Green Buildings, a report prepared by the US Green Building Council for the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, "Design features that enhance energy efficiency and indoor air quality are cost effective strategies for improving worker productivity and product quality. An increase of 1 percent in productivity (measured by production rate, production quality, or absenteeism) can provide savings to a facility that exceeds its entire energy bill". The report provides examples such as Lockheed, an engineering development and design facility in Sunnyvale, California and the Postal Sorting Facility in Reno, Nevada. Lockheed built a high performance green facility and experienced a 15% decrease in employee absenteeism that recuperated the extra costs of their facility within the first year. The Postal Sorting Facility in Reno experienced a 6% increase in the number of items sorted per hour when an alternative lighting system was installed.

In addition federal, state and local governments are now also offering incentives to commercial builders and investors interested in a green approach. According to the Building Momentum report "public and private entities offer financial and regulatory incentives. New York, Maryland and Oregon offer tax credits for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified buildings. Portland (OR) and Seattle (WA) offer grants for energy modeling, commissioning and related costs." The report continues to explain that, "Arlington County (VA) links preferred zoning considerations for LEED projects. Santa Barbara (CA) and Scottsdale (AZ) are some of the first jurisdictions to offer expedited permit reviews for buildings with certain high performance features. Tax credits and other incentives are part of broader green building assistance programs offered by a growing number of state and local governments across the country." Green building programs have been developed in California, Colorado, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. As the green building and commercial investment trend continues tax incentives will increase and green building and design will continue to pay for themselves in more ways than one. For more information about green building and strategies for green commercial property investment visit http://www.voncannonrealestate.com.