INTOUCH : Building green value

Green buildings cost roughly two percent more to build but they more than pay that back in terms of energy savings, tenancy rates and even worker productivity.
Property is one sector where emissions reductions represent healthy value opportunity as various speakers at the recent Green Building Summit in Auckland pointed out. According to keynote speaker Canadian property developer Joe van Belleghan, the green building market is really taking off in North America as investors realise the economic benefits.
He is development manager for $620 million sustainable community development in British Columbia. Dockside Green is model for holistic, closed-loop design that functions as total environmental system. It has its own renewable energy system and treats all its own sewerage on-site using the treated water to flush toilets and irrigate gardens.
And contrary to popular belief, says Belleghan, there’s no need for developers or investors to forfeit profitability to achieve sustainability – ‘environmentally and socially conscious developed’ actually make better business sense.
The same message came from AMP Capital research analyst Nick Edgerton who points out that green properties attract rental premium and have lower vacancy rates. Energy efficiency has positive impacts on both market value and effective rent – and rental values are increasing faster for energy- and water-efficient buildings.
Edgerton also highlights studies showing that green buildings improve productivity by six to 11 percent and that the difference between business as usual and solution tuned to address productivity in the workplace could add almost A$250/m2/year of value to tenant.
The examples of green buildings in New Zealand are growing – and Warren and Mahoney director Graeme Finlay detailed the NZi3 Innovation Institute at the University of Canterbury (pictured) which was built with environmentally responsible and toxic-free materials. As well as utilising natural ventilation, the building has solar water heating and catches rainwater for irrigation and toilet flushing.
But buildings don’t have to be new to go green – retrofitting to make buildings more energy efficient is good way to future-proof their value and save running costs. Pip Connolly, CEO of Arup spoke about “making old buildings new” using case studies that showed how heritage buildings can be retrofitted to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and save energy.
The majority of New Zealand’s city office buildings are more than decade old and average 31 years old, which is why the Green Building Council (GBC) extended its green-star programme to allow existing buildings to gain accreditation. The number of buildings rated by the GBC has risen dramatically in the past two years – from three to 30, with another 60 in the pipeline.
There is an amazing opportunity, says Green Building Council CEO Jane Henley, to give developers and investors who own existing buildings the right kind of framework to understand what they can do and to realise the economic opportunity green-star rating represents. M?

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