Study: Better metrics needed for green benefits in real estate

September 24, 2012

There has been an increased push to make investment in energy efficient buildings and technology more attractive to property owners and tenant companies, but a new report outlined how this effort needs to gain even more momentum in the coming years.

McGraw Hill recently released its latest SmartMarket Executive Brief: Determining the Value of Green Building Investments: A Perspective From Industry Leaders on Triple Bottom Line Decision Making, in partnership with URS. This was presented at the White House's 2012 GreenGov symposium and it outlined how there needs to be more systematic data and positive information to provide motivation for building owners and market investors.

According to the report, there needs to be a broadly outlined benefit to the upgrades and retrofit projects that are being presented as ways to improve efficiency. This includes information regarding the financial, environmental and social impact of the redesigned buildings.

"To date, owners have acted on compelling benefits from their green investments, mainly savings in energy, water, waste and lowered operating costs," said Harvey Bernstein, Vice President of Industry Insights and Alliances at McGraw-Hill Construction. "However, these are only a fraction of the advantages offered by green buildings – missing is a quantification of the full triple bottom line benefits from these investments, especially around the social benefits to human performance and well-being."

The study also outlined how there are a number of areas that need to receive more attention from the industry, including effective benchmarking, newer case studies and tools that smaller businesses can use to see the benefits of energy efficient retrofit projects.

"The data confirm that sustainability is vital to business growth, for us and for our clients. The demand for business to demonstrate its ability to create value for all its stakeholders is paramount," said Lidia Berger, Vice President, Sustainable Practice Director – Facilities at URS.

Sustainability in the industry may be a difficult goal to achieve, but this is why efforts like the Department of Energy-sponsored Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) are working to help businesses see the benefits of retrofit projects and redevelopment efforts.

The EEB Hub is hoping to transform the commercial real estate market in Philadelphia, and by doing this, create a national example for how energy efficient buildings can be used to address numerous factors.