Over the past month or so, I’ve noticed that Crain’s New York Business has included an increasing number of articles on a variety of green building- and green business- issues. This week, Elisabeth Butler notes the proliferation of eco-friendly New York City retailers, from the Lower East Side’s MooShoes, which sells vegan shoes and accessories made with synthetic fibers, to Chelsea’s Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit on West 19th Street, which offers over 365 wines stocked on shelves made from wood procured from sustainable forests. Interestingly, according to retail tracking firm NPD Group, Inc., less than five percent of consumers back in 2000 were specifically looking to purchase green products; in 2006, that figure increased to eighteen percent. Butler also profiles the fledgling Green Business NYC, which will launch on Earth Day- for $25, founder Les Judd will take customers on a walking tour of green retailers on the LES and in NoLIta. There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity right now for green entrepreneurs and Crain’s seems committed to profiling local businesses that are earning a profit through sustainable business practices.
With respect to green building, this week’s issue also offers an edition of the Real Estate Report, which includes an interview with Bovis Lend Lease CEO Peter Marchetto. Mr. Marchetto started his comments off by noting that “[t]his is by far the busiest I’ve ever seen the construction industry in New York City. As a matter of fact, for the most part, it’s extremely busy worldwide.” He also observed that “[m]ore [green] buildings have been done, and more engineers and architects understanding what those buildings are. As a result, there’s more history that we can use when we do design and construction of buildings.”
Much of what adds to the green building premium is the learning curve that designers and contractors must contend with. As Marchetto points out, this learning curve will eventually flatten under the collective knowledge that project stakeholders accumulate as they continue to participate in an increasing number of green projects. It strikes me that Marchetto’s comments implicate (yet again) the carrot v. stick debate. Providing incentives for green development leads to innovation, which makes sustainable construction more accessible, more profitable, and more likely to continue disseminating across all sectors of the construction industry.
- Greening of Retailers (Crain’s)