Green office buildings featuring maximum sustainability get higher rents and cause dislocations and falling prices for other real estate. The wealthy get to work in them while most everyone else doesn’t. While energy efficient office buildings are most definitely needed, they can be trophy buildings more like walled enclaves or fortresses rather than open examples for the future.
As it turns out, the lure of green building has more to do with cash than climate. By virtue of the soft economy and creeping “sustainability” measures, green-rated office towers are a gilt-edged opportunity for investors fleeing stocks and bonds.
Activity-based working (ABW) features offices with open floor plans where there are no fixed desks or workstations for employees. This tends to be couched in elegant terms about how cutting edge it is. It also makes building offices dramatically less expensive.
Such are the times, that if a business announced ABW-type reforms to improve its bottom line, raise productivity or increase returns to investors, it would be damned as a “slave to neo-liberal dogma.” But if the very same measures were dressed-up in the garb of “sustainability,” it would be showered with awards and accolades.
A research report from Verdantix confirms the trend.
The report, “The Future of the Green Office”, suggests it is imperative for real estate developers and building managers to incorporate green sensibilities in their strategy or they could be shut out of the high-end market as companies seek corporate headquarters sites and campuses designed with sustainability in mind.
The report notes that employees at PNC bank who worked in LEED buildings had more deposits per person than in non-LEED buildings, suggesting this was due to the wonderfulness of the LEED design. However, this could also be due to the LEED buildings being much newer plus in better locations.