With the talk of global warming and climate change dominating headlines these days, many industries, including the real estate sector, are contemplating on finding ways to reduce waste, pollution and improve profits at the same time.
The home building industry now has totally bought into the idea of green building, and a lot of reasons are in store for why they are rerouting themselves in this direction.
How Fast Should Building Green Go For The Real Estate Industry?
The major question these days is that, how quick should the industry adapt the concepts of “building green”, and when would it become the norm for all home developer decisions?
Since 2007, the industry has seen a 70% rise in total LEED registered and certified home building projects, on top of more than 50% cumulative growth in 2006. The reason is that, there have been major events or developments in the past two years, among them are the outpouring of concern over carbon dioxide emissions from energy use of all kinds, Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Price for An Inconvenient Truth, and the effects made by Hurricane Katrina and its exposure of the vulnerability of a major American city to natural forces.
With these events in mind, much of the public today is demanding action on climate change, in ways both small and significant. Because most major US businesses still know how to listen to the consumer, it realizes that a large part of its future success would surely come from reducing its carbon footprint, through initiating energy conservation programs and greening new buildings.
Potential Benefits For Home Builders Who Go Green
For home developers who would embrace the concepts of green building, there are a lot of potential benefits that would await them. Among the positive aspects of going green are:
- The Demand is Present.
Many commercial office tenants are realizing the business case for productivity and health in LEED-certified buildings, and are looking at options that offer superior daylighting and indoor air quality. A previous survey on businesses found out that the levels of employee satisfaction with their working conditions showed greater increases when they ere working in more energy-efficient and greener workplaces, than on non-certified workplaces. In the public sector, the demand is also growing, as one agency after another makes a commitment to LEED-certify all future public buildings.
- More Savings On Energy
This idea has gone from being a “good one” to a necessity for many businesses. It’s not simply because energy conservation has a positive life-cycle cost impact, but also that it offers a direct reduction in a firm or corporation’s total “carbon footprint.” A number of researches have indicated that energy conservation not only also offers a positive way to save and make more money, but that it’s also the most cost-effective way to lower society’s carbon dioxide output, and only requires an ability to finance the investment, and won’t need to buy newer technology.
- Green Building Shows A Visible Sense Of Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate America these days is desperate for getting good people. Going green helps improve a businesses reputation, and will help in them hiring the good types of people to work for them, especially the younger ones aged 24 to 45 . If a company cannot attract and keep these people by conforming their business practices to their values, then it would be quite hard for the firm to prosper. Green building represents a visible and more positive affirmation of the values of sustainability and social responsibility, and is an indicator of what companies’ need to make to get and keep good people.
- Going Green Helps Increase Property Values.
A study released in October by the University of San Diego, revealed that in the 2,000 large office buildings in the CoStar® database of commercial properties, the ones that had Energy Star-rated office buildings, which are those in the top 25 percent of energy performance, have had 2% higher occupancy levels, as well as $2 per square foot greater rents. In addition, Energy Star buildings as of 2006 sold at a 30% premium in dollars per square foot, as compared to non-Energy Star-rated buildings. This shows that green buildings are more valuable, and will continue to be become more valuable with each year.
Everyone is talking about buying “green” or practicing the mantra, “recycle, reuse, and reduce”. Different organizations all over the country started to put all these sayings into practice by creating salvage and surplus building supply centers. Typically, builders order fifteen percent more supplies for their jobs in case some glitch shows up in the building process. Instead of throwing away good lumber, excess flooring, or kitchen cabinets, a builder or homeowner can bring them to their local salvage center. Homeowner can even dispose of their older materials when remodeling. Remember someone’s trash is someone else’s treasurer.
I decided to visit Build It Green!, a salvage and surplus building supply center in Queens, New York (“BIG!”). Since I am always looking for reusable materials for my home, I thought this would be a good road trip. I met with Justin Green, the programming director to survey the salvage center. (It’s just coincidence that the center shares the same name as Justin) Justin told me that BIG! was formed when the Durst organization wanted to environmentally dispose of its excess building materials when they built One Bryant Park and its 125 West 31st Street condo development. New York City disposes of approximately 13,500 tons per day of non-fill and demolition materials. BIG! has been in existence for two year and in that time period, this small 17,500 square foot facility with 2 full and 2 part-time employees and trusty mouse catching Jack Russell terrier have sold an estimated 400 tons of building material. As Justin stated, “It is equivalent to taking 150 automobiles off the road.” Pretty impressive.
At the facility, there were yards of doors, Prego flooring, sinks, Jacuzzis, and enough kitchen cabinets that could fill up a couple of kitchens. In addition, there was recessed lighting, lumber, plywood, MDF, and two stand-up piano needing homes. In addition, BIG! has the most beautiful ornate fireplace mantel with attached mirror for sale for $4000. It is obvious it is worth so much more. When I arrived even more kitchen cabinets were being delivered.
BIG!’s most impressive donation came from a family that bought a 2 family townhouse fully renovated. This family decided to turn the two- family townhouse into a one family home. So, they donated all of the duplicate building materials to BIG!, which included a magnificent German made stainless steel kitchen retailing for $70,000. It is sitting at BIG! still in its original wrapping.
Built it Green sells their products at approximately fifty percent below retail. Their goal is to lessening your carbon footprint on the Earth by reusing something that has already been made. I love a bargain so this store is right up my alley.
I asked Justin what were his favorite materials that he received and he told me it was the lumber. He believes that reusing materials that have already been manufactured is the ultimate “green” since no additional resources have to be expended (such as cutting down trees) to create this material.
BIG!, like every not for profit, has its own wish list. They could use a truck instead of renting one, more full-time staff, and a larger facility so they can take more materials. If you can help in anyway whether to donate or buy, it is one more step towards conserving the Earth’s natural resources and reducing the impact on our landfills.
BIG! is just the tip of the iceberg. All over the country there are salvage and surplus building supply centers just like BIG! Each center is unique in its size and what it has to offer. Construction Junction, a 65,000 square foot center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania offers a multitude of building materials and salvage items. Their website contains a catchy slogan, “You can reuse, we can help” reminding you of Home Depot’s saying with a recycling twist to it. They provide deconstruction services, offer an old window restoration seminar, and give free building materials away to not for profit organizations including women’s shelters and senior homes. In addition, they provide low income families discounts to buy their building materials.
If you need building supplies, searching for that treasure you have always wanted, or just need a place to donate your unwanted building supplies or materials, contact your local salvage center. Either way, help do your part to “recycle, reuse, and reduce.” Remember, we only have one Earth.