The 2017 Better Buildings Summit brought the best and brightest energy-efficiency experts to Washington, D.C., and this month, we're recapping our top-performing Summit presentations according to attendee feedback. Coming in at Number 4 is "Believe in Green: Investor-Oriented Sustainability Insights for CRE." The following is a Q&A with organizer Cindy Zhu, a Department of Energy Fellow who lead the presentation.
Beat Blog: Why was it important to talk about energy efficiency from an investor’s perspective?
CZ: Many of our BBC partners develop and/or own investment-grade real estate. Talk to executives at REITs or publicly traded companies, and they’ll say that their investors are asking more about sustainability and energy use. The great lever for these building owners to increase energy efficiency projects in their portfolios is if there is increased investment activity for energy efficient, high performing buildings.
There are now many avenues for investors to understand the sustainability of their portfolios-- including GRESB, the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark. GRESB publishes annual data about the sustainability of real estate investment funds and portfolios, as reported by the building owners who manage and make decisions about them.
Beat Blog: What are the benefits investors can gain from energy-efficiency investments in commercial real estate?
CZ: Energy efficiency is often low-hanging fruit, with positive returns. Energy-efficient investments will lower a building's operational costs, increase revenue, and increase cash flow for the investor. A high-performing building will also have increased value at the time of sale, as technological improvements will decrease future maintenance requirements, and be more attractive for prospective tenants. High-performing buildings are also known to command a higher rental price.
Beat Blog: Can you explain more about Green Leasing and how it benefits CRE organizations trying to become more sustainable?