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CAN GREEN PRODUCE A REAL ROI?

The short-form answer to last week’s Quick Poll question–as answered by Sally Wilson–is a resounding yes. Wilson is CB Richard Ellis’ global director of environmental strategy in addition to serving as senior vice president of brokerage. Despite the enthusiasm for the benefits, Wilson admits that she is less confident about the general level of education and insists that this late in the game, Green in no longer an option; it’s a necessity. For the record, the 173 participants in last week’s poll showed themselves to be a savvy bunch, relatively, with 41% saying that Green can produce an ROI Only With Incentives. A surprising 35% are as enthusiastic as Wilson, claiming they’re Living The Benefits. And 24% believe It’s All Hype and Snake Oil. Here’s Wilson’s take:

“There’s a real lack of awareness of the market opportunities associated with Green. But it can produce a real ROI. If you’re not building Green, your product will become obsolete.

“Around 2006 we reached a tipping point, and things are happening rapidly now. A lot of things are coming together. The first thing is that there’s a strong vehicle for developing Green buildings through the US Green Building Council’s LEED program. There’s a rating system for an owner-occupied building or a commercial interior or a spec building or an existing building conversation.

“The second thing is the growing awareness about the risk of climate change. I just read about Ernst & Young releasing their Top 10 Risks to Businesses, and the number-one risk was climate change and sustainability. So there’s corporate awareness about climate change and the risk to their businesses and their brands. So the awareness is there in what is a huge sector for our market.

“Part of that corporate awareness is social responsibility. They’re driving down into their vendors and their supply chains the demand to be Green as well. So there’s this driver of Green product, but the Green product is very limited.

“The last piece is government involvement–not on a national basis but on a local basis. Look at Chicago; Washington, DC; New York City; Los Angeles, where there are mandates coming out for new buildings to be Green.

“So all of these things are happening together. If you don’t build Green today, where will you be tomorrow? If you have a class-A property now and you’re not converting or figuring out how to invest properly to make that conversion to a more sustainable or higher-performing property, there’s going to be a bigger gap between your product and the LEED product.”

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