Grasping Green Nettle; GREEN BUILDINGS Developers, Office Landlords and Occupiers Are Finally Waking Up to the Fact That Sustainable Development Has Moved to the Top of the Property Agenda
Consider the facts. Property is responsible for around 45 per cent of total CO2 emissions - 20 per cent of which is non-domestic - and there is clearly an onus on the property industry to enhance energy efficiency and curb emissions.
Legislative pressures, combined with an increasing awareness of corporate social responsibility are rapidly making the case for sustainable offices an economic as well as a moral one, according to Carl Potter, offices partner at GVA Grimley in Birmingham.
"It is not just rules and regulations that are leading developers to think and build green," argues Mr Potter, who is also chairman of the British Council of Offices Midlands Chapter.
"If you take a look at any large corporation's CSR statement, you will see that the environment plays a large role in most aspects of the business, including the building they occupy."
He points to the findings of several surveys carried out by GVA Grimley to learn more about the attitudes and intentions of occupiers towards green issues.
The results suggest there is a growing awareness of issues and that demand for greener offices is increasing.
"Only last year we conducted a survey that showed that more than 75 per cent of respondents said they were willing to pay more to occupy premises that were environmentally friendly," says Mr Potter.
"Nearly 60 per cent said they were happy to pay marginally more and 18 per cent moderately more in the form of higher service charges or rents. We anticipate that this year these figures will have increased considerably which means that people are likely to pay less for a low-rated building, in sustainability terms."
GVA surveys with CBI members also show that, if cost savings can be demonstrated, then occupiers will pay more.
But because there are no accurate costs in use data for these new specification buildings, actual savings cannot be easily proven, providing a catch 22 situation.
"Companies are coming to understand that sustainable office buildings are a good investment," says Mr Potter.
"Once buildings are graded in accordance with their energy efficiency, we will see different rental and capital values for buildings that have the best ratings and are more attractive to occupiers, which therefore means they will be worth more. …