Green real estate development: Energy efficiency and the market

March 12, 2012

Though many real estate developers may have avoided green products and the idea of sustainability in the past, due to high up-front costs and a negative financial stigma, not constructing an energy efficient building would be a mistake, according to an article by real estate mogul Frank A. Deluca in Environmental Leader.

The article noted that although many developers hear about buildings getting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications, they do not listen to the cost benefits – and how they often outweigh the up-front expenditures.

According to the news source, the initial determination for what type of building to construct should be based on the idea of using technology to limit the long-term operating costs and helping to limit waste.

One engineer told Deluca that, "you must decide if you want a plaque on the wall or to be motivated by sustainability and efficiency," referring to getting a certification versus lowering costs and energy consumption.

According to the article, the increased federal presence in the market is also something that may motivate businesses and building owners to consider a green approach to their projects, as incentives offered by the government could help to eliminate some of the up-front costs.

This type of motivation could make for a "fantastic ROI" on green real estate projects, and, according to the author, would make not going with certain sustainable products and technology a missed financial opportunity.

The federal government is looking to influence the market through a positive change in perception regarding energy efficient buildings and their financial value to businesses. The Department of Energy designated an innovation HUB for the development of technology in the sector.

Known as the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy Efficient Buildings (GPIC), the effort has already reported positive results.

On January 31, the GPIC completed its official first year in operation, during which it met all set deliverables on time and on budget.

The year saw the opening of the GPIC Headquarters and the Immersive Construction (ICON) lab in Building 101, along with the establishment of partnerships with regional and national allies, including the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the organizaiton of more than 20 educational workshops for students of all ages. The Building 661+ Project also launched with the selection of architect Kieran Timberlake and construction manager Balfour Beatty.

The GPIC Year 1 highlights report shows the accomplishments for this innovation HUB during its first period of operation.