infancy, it is too early to tell whether they will decrease over “Educating customers is very important,” observed a man-time due to more measured use of electricity and other energy ager at an international REIT. “If green buildings are able to
sources. Furthermore, sustainable buildings are generally see higher rental rates, lower occupancies and higher sales
young assets in most firms’ portfolios, and it will take time to prices, then the need for subsidies is diminished and the
see how costs shake out in the long term. excuses for not building green are gone.”
That said, 80.6% of participants stated that their firms have In house, companies are doing a number of things, such as
allocated funds toward sustainable practices, versus just 63.9% hosting lunchtime informational sessions and encouraging
in last year’s poll. And 86% will spend the same or more on employees to attend seminars sponsored by USGBC, BOMA
such programs next year. But green still doesn’t account for a and other professional organizations. Other measures being
large share of their companies’ overall spending. The major- taken are more hands on, such as green cleaning initiatives and
ity— 59.4%—remarked that it comprises less than 5% of the training on how to properly recycle materials.
overall capital-expenditure budget. Meanwhile, 25.3% said it lies between 6% and 10% of total CapEx. One respondent, however, pointed out that there are ways of going green that don’t involve significant cash outlays. “We need to dispel the myth that the only way “Reduced utility to be green is through capital investment,” said a man- aging director with a national development and invest- usage is only keeping ment firm. “Not that investment isn’t called for in some instances, but it isn’t always necessary.” costs in line rather than Along that vein, many companies have instituted formal programs to educate their customers and employees on all things green. Slightly more than 60% reducing them from
of those polled said they have such programs in place to help tenants launch and maintain sustainability plans where we were several
within their own spaces. Exactly 72% provide instruc- tion for building personnel to maintain green practices years ago. at their properties. “To meet our annual energy reduction goal of 10% over the prior year, all staff need to be involved and trained,” remarked a facility manager for a governmental Although firms are”advocating that employees become agency. LEED certified, the number of staffers with the designation On the tenant side, landlords are offering recycling training, accounts for a small segment of the workforce. About 77% of seminars on the implementation of green methods and news- respondents said that only 5% or fewer of their total number of letters that offer tips on sustainability. Others have LEED- employees are applying for or hold LEED AP credentials. accredited staff members that are “go to” people for tenants “While less than 5% of our total staff is LEED AP, some 80%
with questions. to 90% of our North American project managers are,” noted a
“We assist tenants with their construction, and we provide manager with an international REIT.
helpful tips that they can apply to their office space as well as However, there are those who don’t see the need to earn
their lives outside of the office,” said a chief operating officer of LEED credentials at this point. A director of real estate at a
a private equity firm. Northeast-based development firm pointed out, “We’re a devel-
opment company, not engineers or architects. We hire engi-
neers and architects who are LEED AP.” Others say they are still
evaluating the relative merit of holding the designation.
Who Are They? That’s not to say that property owners aren’t actively incorporating eco-friendly programs in their own buildings. Just
over 90% of those polled said they employ some kind of energy
conservation method. Nearly 88% recycle, almost 82% have a
water-conservation program and 70.2% use Energy Star products. Also ranking high with respondents were indoor air quality programs ( 62.2%) and whole-building cleaning and maintenance issues ( 59.2%).
Often the programs in place depend on the asset, said an
associate at an international ownership firm. “For some buildings, it is Energy Star, for some it is LEED and for others we
look purely at normalized utility usage.”
Supposedly this strategy has worked—and worked well.
Nearly 80% said that energy-saving efforts have helped defray
“Our retro-commissioning efforts result in an average 12%
savings and additional measures will bring higher results,”
noted a sustainability manager for a state agency in the West.
“It certainly has helped,” noted a VP of facilities management
WHO RESPONDED TO THE SECOND ANNUAL GREEN
survey? In terms of types of firms, property owners won
out, with 22.1% of participants. Property managers
accounted for 21.7%, while developers comprised 21.3%.
Some 5% were asset managers, while 4.2% were REIT
executives. A total of 19.6% categorize themselves as
“other,” while investment banks, life companies, sponsors,
asset management firms, pension funds and private equity
concerns make up the rest of those polled.
Most of our respondents (75.8%) are male, and parti-pants have an average of 18. 4 years in the real estate
Geographically, our poll covered the waterfront and the
midlands, with respondents representing the Northeast
( 19.9%); West ( 16.9%); Southeast ( 13.6%); Midwest
( 11.4%); and Southwest ( 9.3%). Approximately 21.6%
operate nationally, while 7.2% have an international reach.