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NYC-Based Green Consulting Firm Emphasizes Financial Benefits of Green Building

An article from Sunday’s Times helps make the business case for green buildings.

Andrew Shapiro is a former lawyer who got the idea for his consulting business, GreenOrder Inc., from his brother’s environment-friendly nightclub in Tribeca. After the club closed down, the two brothers opened up their firm, which now advises major developers on projects across the world.

Now, General Electric’s real estate division, which owns about $47.5 billion in assets, has turned to Mr. Shapiro for advice on increasing property value through green design. He is now working on a building near Perth, Australia. Initially, G.E. hired GreenOrder in 2005 to conduct an environmental analysis of the company’s products, including appliances and building materials, for a project known as “ecoimagination.” Products that comply with environmental standards created by GreenOrder qualify for the ecoimagination stamp from G.E.

That project has been highly successful because of Mr. Shapiro’s pragmatic approach, said Lorraine Bolsinger, a G.E. vice president who leads the campaign.

“He knows that in order for any of this to work, it has to have a business proposition,” she said. “To me, that is a rare find in the green realm, where there are people who believe you do things for altruistic purposes. That’s very difficult for the people at any public company to get their heads around.”

There are so many consulting companies out there that help clients navigate the difficult LEED certification process. This is a valuable service for those who can afford it, but in many cases it discourages smaller owners from pursuing certification based on the substantial cost.

I wanted to post about this article because I thought the G.E. executive’s comments made an excellent point about green building in general. Putting aside the green heavyweights like Durst, for example, the run-of-the-mill owner will only choose to go green if there some concrete (i.e. financial) benefit for it to do so.

If it’s cheaper to build conventially, it’s going to build conventionally, particularly if those benefits are only looming murkily at some undefined point in the future. Saving the environment is nice, but it won’t compel a huge owner like G.E. to invest time and money into a $47.5B real estate portfolio.

Anyway, GreenOrder looks like another consulting firm to keep an eye on.

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