According to a Neilson survey, millennials and Gen Z are the first generations willing to pay more for sustainable products. Today’s young woman buying make-up will want to know if the product is tested on animals, the ingredients, if this in sync with her values. It’s part of the farm to table food trend, Fair Trade coffee, if a shirt is made in a sweatshop or hand-made of locally-sourced organic cotton. In short, it’s decisions being made based on whether a product hurts or helps an environment and its people.

         Now take that mindset and think about the intense, current competition among companies to attract, motivate and retain young talent. What will they need to offer in its company policies, buildings and offices? Here’s a look at the sustainable future world of buildings and offices:

·       Decreases in the use of drywall and interior space divisions in favor of increased daylight, shared spaces, communal workspaces and attractive exposed meeting spaces.

·       Growth of biophilic design that reconnects people in the built environment to the natural environment. It’s much more than adding some plants to the lobby or office. It is about the beneficial effects on mind and body of being surrounded by natural elements including views, daylight, natural textures and materials, water features and greenery.

·       The emergence of quiet, meditative, restful spaces where employees can reduce stress and, thereby, increase productivity. These include specialized indoor spaces as well as roof gardens and terraces.

·       Supporting local businesses and making a difference in communities, providing a sense of communal goals as a part of sustainable corporate business practices.

·       Smarter, more specialized technology. We may not have Alexa at every desk, but we may have individually-controlled lighting, temperatures and voice-activation.

More and more baby boomers are retiring, intensifying the competition for younger workers. As companies develop their own sustainability strategies, building owners must also push the envelope of a property’s marketable sustainability features to attract forward-thinking tenants.

The times are indeed ‘a-changin’. Only companies with a death wish will ignore the clarion call for the new age of sustainability.

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

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