Building Value with Green Infrastructure – Part 1

Going green, in its many ways, is a recurring theme of mine. Whether green roofs, biophilic design, green trends, low-cost tips for going green, greening offices, conference rooms and lobbies, laying permeable pavements and planting trees, greening the office building and environment and green infrastructure creates value.

What kind of value and how much depends on what you’re including and how you’re calculating, and we’ll get back to that in Part Two of this post.

But, for now, let’s explore how property owners benefit financially and from the health and environmental perspective by investing in green infrastructure.

If you’re a commercial property owner, when you invest in green infrastructure, you are investing in increasing your rents, length of tenancies, property value and NOI through energy savings, government tax credits, private financial incentives, reduced maintenance costs, water reduction and even on-site safety.
Enlightened companies – and there are many – can be swayed by the beauty, cleaner air and relaxation opportunities of locating their offices within a building with a green roof, living indoor green walls and private gardens. But they can be swayed even further by the body of knowledge that indisputably proves workers take less sick days, stay at their jobs longer and are more productive when working in green buildings, especially with offices designed along sustainability best practices.

As baby boomers continue to retire, the office environments of their era are being retired with them. To attract new talent, companies are embracing workplace strategies that appeal to younger generations’ work styles – freedom to roam, informal settings, alternative work areas, natural light and other green elements.

Take, for example, Amazon’s recent expansion of its Seattle headquarters – three glass spheres that house 40,000 plants from 400 species, creating an indoor rain forest. Instead of conventional offices (and, heaven forbid, cubicles), there are attractive wooden walkways open to the sphere with unexpected stopping and meeting points where employees can chance upon tables, chairs and lounges. The company, known for its challenging work ethic, hopes that the headquarters’ unusual design and extensive greenery will spark new collaborations, ideas and products.

Amazon may be the current poster child headquarters of biophilic design, but other leading companies including Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google are also trendsetters with regard to testing and adapting green design – sometimes right down to carpet configurations, colors and designs in their facilities.

The goal is enhanced creativity and collaboration, less burnout and more turnout of new ideas by enriching physical proximity to nature.

In Part 2 we’ll explore more benefits as well as costs of gray vs. green infrastructure.

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Steven_J._SchleiderBy Steven J. Schleider, MAI, LEED-AP BD + C President, Metropolitan Valuation Services

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