The Impact of Sustainable Design in a Commercial Real Estate Development
When considering a development vision, many developers find the idea of sustainable design to be troublesome for a number of reasons. Buzz words such as “green buildings” and “eco-friendly” seem like trends to be avoided, and the initial investment seems staggering compared to the tried and true method of developing more traditional buildings.
However, there has undoubtedly been a change in the market, and these new, sustainable, high-performance structures are appearing all over the world. So why is this happening? In this article, we will discuss the roots of sustainable design, the benefits and disadvantages of sustainable design compared to traditional design practices, and the impact that it could have on your projects and your development organization.
This is the fifth article in our ongoing series about high-performance commercial development projects. In this series, we will cover such topics as: the components and benefits of high-performance design, the effects that high-performance design has on your development organization, and the effects that it has on the final product. If you have found this article of use, you may like to take a look at the rest of the series.
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We have good news and bad news: the bad news is that sustainable design is usually more expensive than code minimums. This is well known, and at an average of 15-20% more expensive of an initial cost, these numbers may appear too staggering to even consider in a development project’s pre-design.
Now that we’ve gotten the cost issue out of the way, sustainable design is not without its benefits, and most would say that the benefits far-outweigh the bad. At the core of sustainability are a few key principles - for example, responsible developing and quality product development - and it is these principles that will gain a developer organization added value in a number of ways.
The impact on the product
Sustainable design means that the quality of the materials and methods used during construction are more durable and a better fit for human habitation than their counterparts. Sustainable design also means that the systems incorporated into the structure are of a higher efficiency and use less energy than their counterparts. If you add these together, this means that the lifecycle of the building is quite a bit longer, the quality of life within the structure is better, and the maintenance and repair costs of the building are lower. In short, it adds outright quality that raises the property value. In short, while there is a higher investment, there is also a higher return - meaning that the economic model can shift to a higher ROI.
The impact on the brand
If we consider a development project as a brand communication channel for a development organization, then focusing on high-quality and sustainable products means that the image of the development organization increases in quality alongside the quality of their products. This creates an upward spiral, an increase in brand recognition results in better project opportunities, and the organization continues to grow. In short, better quality projects, better project opportunities, and a long-term project with ROI security.