With LEED certified projects growing in popularity, green can be a major selling point to investors and tenants alike. These initiatives not only offer significant and measurable savings in terms of energy usage, but contribute to the health and well being of the people who live and work in your project, so green messaging is very important.
Building green and selling green in tough economic times might sound counter intuitive but the reality is, it’s not. A recent survey conducted by National Real Estate Investor in partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council showed that sustainability in commercial real estate is growing in leaps and bounds.
More than 88% of developers and 86% of corporate executives say they consider green design to be as or more important than it was before the current economic slump. In fact, LEED certified projects showed an impressive 47% increase over the previous 12 month period.
These buildings represent 273 million square feet of new construction and major renovation on commercial and institutional properties, up from 133 million square feet the previous year. Another 25,608 properties totaling approximately 6.3 billion square feet are currently registered with the LEED, up from 1.3 billion square feet last year.
The reason for these green spikes are much more personal than they are planetary. Green can be a major selling point to investors and tenants alike. These initiatives not only offer significant and measurable savings in terms of energy usage, but contribute to the health and well being of the people who live and work in your project.
Healthier materials, paints, finishes, carpets, cleaning supplies and more natural lighting make contributions that are becoming more accepted, more desired, and more understood each day.
Healthier surroundings contribute to greater well being, less sick days, and therefore greater productivity of those who will spend a majority of their time inside what you build.
There is no question that green is the way to go, the question really is how healthy and robust your communication of all that will be to your investor, purchaser or tenant base. Of all the green things you may be considering building into your project, green messaging might be the most important one of all.
After all, one of the keys to selling is educating. So much of the green message has focused on what’s in it for the planet that people often forget it’s just as important to focus on what’s in it for the potential purchaser or renter. It’s important to remember that green is not just a physical thing, it’s also a state of mind. It’s the place where value can be added in a very measurable sense.
Be sure not to make the mistake of assuming that just saying you’re green is communicating your message. Put your green communications in human terms. Tell your customer base why you’re going green and what that’s going to do for them.
Of course, talk about tax credits and energy savings, but also talk about how your green initiatives help control the one environment it’s possible to exercise the most control over. The one we live in or work in each day.
Talk about the added-value thinking green has brought to your current project or the ones you’ve created in the past. And remember that people don’t want to live in or invest in a laboratory, but want esthetics along with everything else.
Recently, an ultra green residence was built in the town I live in. It was loaded with green features including solar panels that tracked with the sun, a zero-energy loss envelope, no paint or carpet, water reclamation systems — the works.
Unfortunately, they forgot one thing. The WOW factor. For $2 million. people want something that’s not only efficient but stunning. And that’s what was left out. Instead of natural stone, granite or marble floors, they went with ceramic tile. Instead of finding ways to maximize the heat output of stylish, architectural fireplaces, they went with highly-efficient wood stoves. Lots of heat, but no fire. It all looked good on paper, but not as good in the living room.
The point of marketing green or building green is to take all the available technology and make it human and accessible — and above all beautiful. Just look what designer, Erin Adams, is doing with her recycled glass mosaic tile and home furnishings. You see, you can have your cake and eat it too.
Remember that green means alive, vibrant and healthy. And that includes your communications. Don’t just go earth tone and tell me you’re saving the planet. The market and people’s understanding of the green message has progressed far beyond that.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Carolyn Parrs and Irv Weinberg are principals at Mind Over Markets, a strategic green marketing communications company in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Mind Over Markets specializes in effective messaging for the maturing green market. They co-author the Green Marketing Blog, a leading voice in green communications, and speak internationally on green and sustainable marketing. Carolyn is also the creator of Women Of Green, a multi-media blog and community about turning up the volume of the feminine in the green movement. They can be reached at 505-989-4004.
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