Investment Analysis

Raising the Bar on Sustainability

Incorporate an ecofriendly landscape to increase your bottom line.

Trending for years, sustainability in landscaping is more than a buzzworthy topic; it is influencing the way properties are developed. With environmentally conscious building and design practices rising in popularity, many commercial property owners, brokers, and investors are working closely with their professional landscape teams to incorporate green spaces on their grounds to increase the overall happiness and wellness of tenants - and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

After all, green concepts such as multiuse outdoor spaces and low-impact designs continue to differentiate properties and attract tenants to retail, office, and multifamily housing properties. According to a study by the University of Washington's Urban Forestry and Greening, properties with high-quality landscapes receive 7 percent higher rental rates compared to those without. Similarly, 63 percent of respondents to a poll in the Husqvarna Global Garden Report said they would be willing to pay more for a living space if it were located in an area with green spaces.

Reduce Costs/Increase Profits

The incorporation of sustainable landscapes is a smart way to benefit bottom lines. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy has found that commercial real estate profits can improve with the adoption of sustainable practices that reduce costs to tenants and building owners.

One of the first places to start is water usage. Consider ways to reduce water requirements and energy demands. Is your irrigation system performing effectively and efficiently or should enhancements be made? Often the investment made in new irrigation equipment readily pays for itself in reduced utility bills thanks to reduced water usage. Explore your property's foliage. Rather than maintaining plants that require heavy maintenance and watering needs, incorporate native shrubs, plants, and trees that are adapted to grow well in the climate and region. A well-designed landscape that makes use of native plants and trees can provide shaded areas for tenants to gather, assist in reducing noise, provide oxygen, and reduce building energy demands for cooling and heating, which can save thousands of dollars in annual energy costs. Following the incorporation of sustainable green spaces on your property, consider obtaining eco-certifications such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which is overseen by the U.S. Green Building Council and is known as one of the most widely used green building rating systems. In addition to increasing the image of your building, LEED certification has been shown to increase occupancy rates in office buildings and rental rates in residential buildings alike.

Develop Sustainable Landscape Designs

If your building is lacking in communal space, create innovative green spaces that offer both form and function. Green roofs, for example, are vegetative layers lining a building's rooftop that can be incorporated into your landscape design to reduce energy costs by offering an added layer of insulation. As a bonus, green roofs can increase the lifespan of a building's roof by about 20 years, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Also consider incorporation of interior plants when introducing green spaces into your property. Shown to reduce stress and create an inviting work experience for tenants, interiorscapes not only can enhance the overall image of your property's design, but also introduce healthy, clean air to your building. From container gardens and potted plants to green walls, the options for interiorscaping are endless.

Create Enjoyable Spaces

Sustainable, green landscape design goes well beyond maintained grounds surrounding your building - it also contributes to overall tenant satisfaction and experience. Commercial spaces often are more successful when they provide tenants and visitors with well-landscaped, environmentally friendly areas to enjoy. In fact, a study conducted by Terrapin Bright Green, an environmental consulting firm, found employees are more productive in natural, green settings.

Incorporate experiential living spaces, such as water features that create relaxing environments; lounge areas that provide privacy and shade; or outdoor dining tables, dog parks, walking and biking trails, and recreational spaces on your property that offer employees, tenants, and visitors areas to live, work, and play outdoors.

Ready to take your property to the next level before or after sale? Whether you primarily work with retail, office, or multifamily residential buildings, implementing green practices throughout your space can boost your overall bottom line.

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CIRE July/August 2018

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