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Brand New Colony: Jamestown Properties Commits to Greening Nearly All $4 Billion Worth of Its U.S. Buildings

In one of their rare turns in the gbNYC spotlight, Jamestown Properties is acquitting itself well. Jamestown recently announced a commitment to do up to $10 million worth of green retrofits on its entire U.S. building portfolio. Given the size of Jamestown’s $4 billion portfolio, that’s a lot of buildings, with such major New York City properties as LEED Gold-hopeful 1250 Broadway and Chelsea Market among them. While Jamestown isn’t doing this out of the goodness of its Multinational Corporate Heart — they’ll make their money back through energy savings and higher rents and sale prices — their choice carries with it a number of heartening potential effects. In the Times, Alison Gregor explains the possible curve-bending effects of Jamestown’s decision to green its fleet.

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The Halfway Point: Venture Capital Study Predicts Huge Green Retrofit Surge

Anyone predicting the emergence of a large and lucrative market at our nation’s present economic ebb is going to get attention, but Greg Kats deserves more attention than, say, Larry Kudlow or the clowns who wrote Dow Eleventy Zillion. A former member of Bill Clinton’s Department of Energy, Kats is now the senior director of the New York-based venture capital firm Good Energies Inc., and he recently issued the results of a two-year, independently-financed report in a book called Greening Our Built World. To call Kats’ conclusions bullish is, frankly, kind of an insult to bulls. But while Kats’ projection that 50 percent of the non-residential building stock in the U.S. will qualify as “green” by 2015 is dramatic — especially since the current figure is 15 percent — it’s not exactly James Glassman and Kevin Hassett predicting that the Dow will hit infinity by 2002 as long as we repeal the Glass-Steagall Act. That is to say, Kats actually makes it seem possible.

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RICS Study: No Premium for LEED-Certified Commercial Office Buildings

Last week, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (“RICS”) released the results of a study authored by Piet Eichholtz and Nils Kok of Maastricht University and John Quigley of Berkeley. Titled “Doing Well By Doing Good? An Analysis of the Financial Performance of Green Office Buildings in the USA,” the purpose of the study was to determine whether investors are currently willing to pay any premium for green (Energy Star- and LEED-certified) commercial office buildings and, if so, what that premium is. The authors identified 1360 buildings- 286 LEED-certified, 1045 Energy Star-certified, and 29 certified under both systems- and were able to obtain complete building characteristics and monthly rents from CoStar for 649 of them, as well as sales data for 199 buildings that swapped hands between 2004 and 2007. To create a pool of peer buildings, the authors used the CoStar database to identify all other office buildings within a quarter mile radius of the subject green building to create a “cluster” of buildings for each of the 893 subject buildings. The study concluded that “the type of label matters. We find consistent and statistically significant effects in the marketplace for the Energy Star-labeled buildings. We find no significant market effects associated with the LEED label. Energy Star concentrates on energy use, while the LEED label is much broader in scope. Our results suggest that tenants and investors are willing to pay more for an energy-efficient building, but not for a building advertised as ‘sustainable’ in a broader sense.”

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NAIOP Responds to Critics by Making Case for Incentives to Boost Efficiency in Commercial Office Buildings

I took great interest in a number of the documents that NAIOP released in the aftermath of its controversial energy efficiency study. The organization has compiled both an FAQ and fact sheet detailing the various assumptions it made and conclusions it drew in an effort to clarify some of the unproductive vitriol that has flown around the web over the past month decrying its conclusion that 30 percent energy reductions are not practicable for the majority of commercial office properties. Both the fact sheet and FAQ are available on NAIOP’s web site and point out that the results of the study do not apply to all buildings; “[t]he study analyzes a typical office building that represents more than 50 percent of new Class A construction [that took place] in 2008.” NAIOP also clarifies that the subject building is a real 95,000-square-foot, speculative commercial office property in California, and claims that the results of its study show what’s possible for the “vast majority of new construction without having to redesign a typical office building,” calling the results “impressive.”

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