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.”
Tag Archives | LEED
This article takes a fresh look at the traditional concepts of real estate marketing as they relate to property locations through the prism of green building and sustainability.
Ed Mazria said that it was “meant to confuse the public and stall meaningful legislation, insuring that America remains dependent on foreign oil, natural gas and dirty conventional coal.” Lloyd Alter of Treehugger called it “one of the dumbest studies that has crossed our screen in a while.” Danielle Sacks at Fast Company wants to “make sure studies like these don’t make it past their press release.” So what, if anything, are we to make of ConSol’s study, prepared for NAIOP, which concluded that the best possible scenario for energy efficiency improvements to a hypothetical 4-story, 95,000-square-foot office building is 23 percent over the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 Energy Standard? While we continue to wait for more meaningful data about the performance of green buildings, I think the study suggests the danger- for both legislators and stakeholders- of relying on energy modeling of any kind as the basis for policymaking or who agree to assist a green building project in achieving certain energy reductions by the terms of their construction contracts.
This is the first of a series of articles here at the Green Real Estate Law Journal on the impact that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will have on green building generally. Future articles will provide greater detail as to the projects utilizing federal funds in a multitude of states, some unique legal risks associated with these projects, and the disputes that may arise in connection with such projects. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “Recovery Act”) offers multiple opportunities for property owners, developers and other stakeholders in the green building arena. There are tens of billions of dollars in funding initiatives for green building in the Recovery Act. Many of the provisions are complex and the specific projects that are to be have yet to be fully provided. That being said, the commitment to green building is clearly apparent throughout the Recovery Act and a quick summary of the critical green building funding proposals are detailed after the jump.
Much like the rest of the green building industry, green leases contain a collection of legal risks that landlords and tenants have not previously had to consider. This article considers a small sample of such problems, specifically in relation to certification requirements, cost issues, insurance provisions and green product issues. Many companies and government agencies require their space to satisfy an applicable LEED for Commercial Interiors certification level. These entities look for a lease to specify that the space will meet such standards. Landlords are not generally in the position to guarantee such certification level. The project architect, general contractor, subcontractor and USGBC all have a much greater impact on whether the space meets the required certification level. The landlord will thus need to make sure it is working with contractors and architects that understand the issues and are able to work towards achieving the necessary certification levels. It will need to protect itself in its applicable project contracts. The landlord and tenant must work together in attempting to craft a lease that adequately protects each of their respective interests and avoids liability outside of either of their control.
Back in January here at GRELJ, I critiqued Andrew Burr of CoStar’s list of the top ten green building stories from 2008 by noting his lack of any reference to the green building litigation and associated risk management issues that began to emerge during the course of last year. Accordingly, I was pleased to see his recent column acknowledging some of the risks inherent with marketing green buildings, both in project-specific materials as well as securities disclosures. In Mr. Burr’s piece, both Paul D’Arelli of Greenberg Traurig and Brian Anderson of Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek (who describes the securities issue in detail in his Understanding the Business of Green article, available via the links below), among others, note the importance of educating owners about the terminology associated with the LEED certification process and the potential legal dangers of misrepresenting a property’s green design features in terms of ultimate building performance.
The real estate finance industry has experienced extreme changes in the past eighteen months. The credit crisis and subsequent economic recession have resulted in a severe tightening in the real estate finance market. As a result, the few banks that are still providing financing secured primarily by real estate are able to be far more selective in project selection. Some of these lenders have greatly increased their commitment to providing financing to developers of green buildings. One prominent source of funds has been from Wells Fargo & Company, which has provided more than $2 billion in financing secured by green real estate. As the world financial headquarters has shifted from Wall Street to Washington, D.C., many commentators are expecting that green building will be a common condition of allocation of federally funded real estate projects whether in the form of direct subsidies or grants or public/private partnerships. This article will briefly examine a small portion of the unique legal risks that should be considered by lenders and property owners and developers in regard to obtaining financing for green buildings. It will specifically focus on ways lenders should attempt to mitigate risk through a basic understanding of green building, the careful examination of leases, construction documents and loan document covenants.
Before we get rolling in 2009, let’s take a look at the five most important green building stories that we presented in one manner or another here at gbNYC during the course of 2008.
I am consistently amazed at the disparities in how green building projects are promoted. Some projects make it very clear that they are simply “aiming for” or “registered” in pursuit of LEED certification, while others brand themselves as “green” without any real discussion with respect to what (if any) those sustainable design features might be. You can see a good example of how these inconsistencies may wind up exposing green construction project stakeholders to unanticipated liability in this photo that I took over the summer. It shows sidewalk bridging at one of Manhattan’s highest profile green construction projects. The building in question is seeking a LEED Gold rating from USGBC (it is pre-certified under LEED for Core and Shell, but by no means is it “LEED Gold Certified” yet as claimed by the bridging). What happens if the ultimate rating that is conferred by USGBC is not Gold but Silver?
Over the past two years, I have written extensively over at gbNYC about the potential for litigation arising out of green construction projects. The country’s first reported green building litigation – Shaw Development versus Southern Builders – is an excellent example of how hidden green building risks can present unconventional legal issues to construction industry stakeholders and their counsel. It is critical to note that the case does NOT discuss the contractor’s failure to achieve LEED certification on behalf of the owner (as many articles referencing my original post at gbNYC have incorrectly asserted). Rather, it suggests the importance of accurately translating green building regulatory requirements into construction documents.