Making Your Green Building Work For Your Business

When is going green a sound investment, and is it ever the wrong move?  This recent blog post from the Green Real Estate Law Journal reported on a new study citing evidence against the market value of pursuing green building certifications in certain geographical/geopolitical areas, or on certain project types.  As it made the rounds at Brightworks, one of our schools of thought could be summed up as, “So there is no ‘one size fits all’ green building solution for everyone…and this is news?”

The study focused on a small group of industrial buildings that underperformed their “non-green” peers – an effect which was especially pronounced in politically conservative counties.  This runs contrary to more common studies showing increased value tied to green building.  It asked, “…If green rental premiums are attributable to the branding of space, why would industrial warehouse facilities…benefit? Alternatively, if energy efficiency drives green premia, such effects may well be more pronounced within the industrial sector.”  Exploring questions like these with clients is the foundation of our work, because the business case for sustainability is different for everyone.

These two charts from our Business Case for Sustainability presentation (you can read our related article or  view the presentation deck on SlideShare) present sample breakdowns of how the business benefits of green building might look different for two different buildings – an owner occupied building versus a speculative building meant to be sold.

The Business Case for a Green Owner Occupied Building

Owner Occupied Building

The Business Case for a Green Speculative Building

Speculative Building

If you’re building a space you plan on owning for a long time, building it to run efficiently and save you money in the long run will be a huge focus for your project.  If you’re building to sell, cost savings are only as important to you as they are to your prospective buyers.  Likewise, creating healthy interior spaces with great views and daylit work stations is far more important to a company trying to keep their staff happy in an office building than it is to a data center full of servers.

Differences like these abound for our clients – there is no one right strategy for everyone.   Geography and building type are just two of the factors that might affect the way you should approach green development.  A good sustainability project of any kind has to start with the question, “What are your business goals?” and not just, “Do you want solar panels now or later?”  Tune in to our Business Case for Sustainability webinar on April 19th for a closer look at how business strategy and sustainability are working together.  You’ll be better equipped to see through the hype of the next study trying to disprove sustainability’s value, and you’ll understand more about how to make your next sustainability initiative truly support the needs of your business.

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