Connections for Success



Greening Your Projects Can Bring In More Green
Justin L. Sylvan

Whether you are developing commercial or residential projects, tenants and future owners are increasingly prioritizing environmentally-friendly features. Businesses with a strong focus on corporate social responsibility are increasingly expecting a better indoor environment, lower operating costs and enhanced market value for their spaces. To avoid falling behind the competition, you need to stay on top of the latest sustainable features. Here are four trends to consider for your current and future building projects.

  1. Smart Homes and Buildings
    The Internet of Things (IoT) — meaning the networking of people, sensors and objects to automatically collect, exchange and apply data — is not new at this point. Today, full IoT integration is the expectation rather than a competitive advantage.

    In homes, residents want more than energy-efficient appliances; they also want smart technologies for lighting, HVAC and security. Businesses also see the cost-cutting case for such technologies in their spaces, making them critical to tenant satisfaction and retention. Owners can use smart technologies to improve facility management and maintenance — and boost their bottom lines.

    Related Read: How To Use Smart Technologies Smartly

  2. Net-Zero Energy
    The World Green Building Council defines a net-zero carbon building as highly energy-efficient, with all remaining energy supplied by on-site or off-site renewable sources. The U.S. Department of Energy refers to zero-energy buildings as “an ambitious yet increasingly achievable goal that is gaining momentum across geographic regions and markets.”

    California already has mandated that most new homes and multifamily residential buildings up to three stories include rooftop solar panels with an eye toward net-zero goals. It aims for all new commercial construction to be net-zero by 2030. This may create a ripple effect across other parts of the country. No matter where you operate, net-zero initiatives could be on the horizon.

  3. Sustainable Design
    It is much easier to reach net-zero energy consumption or even just reduced consumption when you think about sustainability from the beginning of a project. Solar and other cleaner power sources are an obvious start. And cool roofs with high-emittance coating reflect the sun and reduce the heat-island effect in dense urban areas.

    You also could use “passive” solar, which takes advantage of a building’s site, climate and materials to minimize energy use. For example, when sunlight hits the building, its materials can reflect, distribute or absorb the radiation. Eaves can be designed to let sunlight in during the winter but block it during warmer months. Skylights and tubular daylighting devices can leverage the sun for lighting, too.

    Related Read: Key Considerations of Going Solar

  4. Green Building Materials
    The materials you use can affect consumption, waste and energy usage. Incorporating recycled insulation, bamboo floors, porous pavement and electrochromic glass will make a difference for years to come.

    Low-flow or dual-flush toilets have graduated from unusual to the norm in everything from public restrooms to homes. Some are as much as 20% more efficient than the current federal standard of 1.6 gallons per flush. The latest in toilet technology is waterless composting toilets that use natural processes to decompose waste into an odorless substance that can be added to gardens or combined with an outdoor compost pile.

  5. Investor Focus
    In recent years, the perception of risk associated with climate change has changed dramatically, prompting investors to steer money toward safer, higher-performing green assets. New measurement tools and standards are empowering them to raise the bar for environmental and economic performance. It has also changed their appetite in regard to investing in green properties.

    From reporter Patrick Sisson’s The New York Times article, “As Risks of Climate Change Rise, Investors Seek Greener Buildings,” “Five to 10 years ago, there was a lot of debate about sustainability, that, ‘It is nice, but I don’t want to pay for it,’” said Stephen Tross, Chief investment officer of international investments at Bouwinvest, a Dutch investment firm managing roughly $17 billion in assets with significant North American interests. “Today, you do not sacrifice returns for sustainability, you create returns with sustainability.”

    The future is now

    Sustainability in development is no longer an aspiration or a niche — it is now closer to being a mainstream must-have. Regulation will also have a huge impact on the future of green real estate around the world. Following the Paris Agreement which came into force on November 4, 2016, sustainability regulations will become even more relevant to global real estate investors.  The good news is that many green measures, despite higher upfront costs, can help you build your profitability in the long term by cutting operating costs and increasing occupancy rates, rents and sale prices.

    Related Read: How To Prepare for the Workplace of the Future

    For more information, contact Justin Sylvan at [email protected] or 312.670.7444. Visit to learn more about our Real Estate Group.

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