Here’s How CRE Developers are Taking Sustainability into Account


Sustainability in the real estate sector affects a large amount of companies. Sustainability is often referred to in residential real estate, with topics such as rain water harvesting, energy alternatives and recycling surfacing, but commercial real estate value can also be enhanced with sustainability efforts. Here’s how CRE developers are taking sustainability into account.

From renewable energy production to green roofs, sustainability is an integral part of commercial real estate development. Tenants, investors and cities are encouraging developers to create more environmentally sound and energy efficient projects. Developers like Prologis and Trammell Crow Company have established sustainable business practices and environmentally friendly properties.

Developers are putting more effort into creating aggressive sustainability goals. Many investors ask questions about developers’ programs and many developers are advancing their sustainability programs to attract investors and investment dollars. Recent energy-efficient standards are helping steer the direction of how buildings are being constructed. These codes are helping make the industry more efficient with improved water consumption, better lighting control and improved heating and air conditioning systems.

Sustainability Projects

Boston Properties created what is being deemed as Boston’s most sustainable building in 2016. The 17-story mixed-use 425,000 square foot property has 14 vertical wind turbines, a rainwater harvesting system, and a highly efficient HVAC system. At Boston Properties’ Salesforce Tower, tenants can use apps to control the HVAC and lighting in their offices. This tower in San Francisco is pre-certified LEED Platinum and is slated to be completed at the end of the year.

Developer Prologis had planned to reach a 20% reduction in greenhouse emission by 2020, but reached a reduction of 22% in 2016. The goal was met by a close examination of internal energy and gas usage, its maintenance vehicles, employee commutes and business travel.

What’s Next in Sustainability for Developers

Developers have plans to partner with companies to increase renewable energy and energy efficiencies. Boston Properties generated 1 million kWh in on-site renewable energy last year and they are also considering implementing renewable and alternative energy like vertical wind turbines, solar and/or co-generation systems at more than half of their new developments.

Prologis has plans to implement its first battery storage project this year and this could be a huge step for sustainability in industrial spaces.

What Drives Sustainability in CRE

A number of things have driven real estate sustainability into the mainstream, but the greatest influence of all is tenant expectations. For a commercial building to proclaim sustainability and eco-friendliness is one of the best marketing tactics. Achieving LEED certification has become standard for many cities and class-A buildings in the United States.

Sustainability is also a critical element in a company’s corporate culture. This includes client-facing stances as well as its relationship with eco-conscious employees.

Another important driver of sustainability is resiliency – the ability of a property infrastructure to be self-sustaining enough to withstand storms and other natural storms.

Having a sustainable building is an advantage for cultural, marketing, staffing, and investors and will create more environmentally friendly spaces for people to live, work and play in.