Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

How Green Infrastructure Adds Value for Property Owners and Tenants

Business

By Larry Levine

“Green infrastructure” in urban and suburban areas—that is, techniques like green roofs, tree plantings, rain gardens, and permeable pavement, which absorb rainwater near where it falls—is proven to help solve major water pollution problems. These water management practices store rainwater for use, evaporate it back to the atmosphere, or let it filter into the ground, where it can benefit vegetation and replenish groundwater supplies.

Many communities around the U.S. are now relying on green infrastructure as a cost-effective solution to stormwater infrastructure problems. What’s more, these communities reap the added benefits of beautifying neighborhoods, cooling and cleansing the air, reducing asthma and heat-related illnesses, reducing energy demand for heating and cooling, and creating “green-collar” jobs.

Less well-known—but vitally important—is that green infrastructure on private property can provide a wide range of benefits to commercial property owners and their tenants.

A green roof on the offices of YouTube in San Bruno, CA. Photo credit: Natural Resources Defense Council

A new NRDC report released today, "The Green Edge: How Commercial Property Investment in Green Infrastructure Creates Value," details the following benefits, which help to build the business case for commercial real estate owners to invest in green infrastructure:

  • Increased rents and property values
  • Increased retail sales
  • Energy savings
  • Local financial incentives (such as tax credits, rebates, and stormwater fee credits)
  • Reduced infrastructure costs
  • Reduced flood damage
  • Reduced water bills
  • Increased health and job satisfaction for office employees
  • Reduced crime

Real dollar values can be put on many of these benefits. For a teaser of what’s in the full report, click on the graphic below:

Graphic credit: Natural Resources Defense Council

On any given property, these benefits can add up to big money over the long-run. Our report includes three examples that show the potential cumulative value of a suite of green infrastructure retrofits to the owners and tenants of medium-sized office buildings, mid-rise apartment buildings and retail centers. In both the office building and apartment building examples, the total present value of benefits approaches $2 million over 40 years; for the retail center, benefits exceed $24 million, including nearly $23 million of increased retail sales for tenants.

This commercial office building in Washington DC incorporates a green roof, a cistern, plantings that maximize the “curb appeal” of the façade, and reuse of captured rainwater for landscape irrigation—achieving zero stormwater runoff from a 2-year storm or less. More information is available here. Photo credit: Timmons Group, Richmond, VA

The report shows why it’s essential for players in the commercial real estate industry to consider the full range of green infrastructure benefits, in order to make wise investment decisions. This is true both for new construction projects – to take full advantage of opportunities to integrate green design features – and at existing developed sites – where investments in retrofits can improve older properties and create value.

Notably, in some cities, compliance with local stormwater regulations may require the use of green infrastructure practices for new development. In many other places, these same practices, though not required, provide an allowable pathway to compliance. Recognizing the true benefits of green infrastructure can help developers maximize their return on investment when determining how best to comply with – or even exceed – such local rules.

The report’s findings also have important implications for national policy. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is long-overdue to update to its stormwater rules, which, if done right, would significantly expand and accelerate the deployment of green infrastructure nationwide. Today’s report shows that, besides achieving cleaner water and healthier communities, federal leadership on this front can help create value in the commercial real estate market.

Ultimately, green infrastructure is a win-win for both the private and public sector. As Howard Neukrug, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Water Department put it to me: “When private property owners construct green infrastructure and manage their on-site stormwater, not only can they benefit financially, they are also helping to transform pockets of our city into Greened Acres. This is public/private partnership in its truest sense.”

This piece originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog.

Visit EcoWatch’s GREEN BUILDING page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less
Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less

"Emissions from pyrotechnic displays are composed of numerous organic compounds as well as metals," a new study reports. Nodar Chernishev / EyeEm / Getty Images

Fireworks have taken a lot of heat recently. In South Dakota, fire experts have said President Trump's plan to hold a fireworks show is dangerous and public health experts have criticized the lack of plans to enforce mask wearing or social distancing. Now, a new study shows that shooting off fireworks at home may expose you and your family to dangerous levels of lead, copper and other toxins.

Read More Show Less
Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons. Curtis Palmer / CC by 2.0

By Ashutosh Pandey

Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A women walks with COVID-19 care kits distributed by Boston's Office of Neighborhood Services in Boston, Massachusetts on May 28, 2020. The pandemic has led to a rise in single-use plastic items, but reusable bags and cloth masks can be two ways to reduce waste. JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP via Getty Images

This month is Plastic Free July, the 31 days every year when millions of people pledge to give up single-use plastics.

Read More Show Less