Environmental sustainability is no longer just a forward-thinking, aspirational goal for companies. Indeed, it has become a strategic priority to align goals with initiatives that promote the welfare of the planet. These measures promote a positive brand image, with 73% of Millennials stating they are willing to spend more on products from sustainable brands. But in the world of commercial real estate, taking environmental sustainability into consideration also ensures that construction materials and resources remain available for years to come, protecting against future shortages due to overuse of raw materials.
So what are the latest sustainability initiatives and how can you leverage them at your firm? Read ahead to discover the latest and greatest innovations impacting the CRE landscape.
In highly urbanized areas, emissions from buildings and vehicles can create smog, leading to poor air quality. This problem is so severe in some cities that residents wear surgical masks to reduce smog inhalation. To combat smog, one German architecture firm has created a tiled structure that reduces the amount of smog in the surrounding air through chemical processes.
The tiles are coated with titanium dioxide that makes them reactive to UV rays. In the sun, these tiles activate and reduce the toxic load of the air. Buildings fitted with these tiles could improve the overall air quality and, in turn, lead to overall economic improvement in affected areas. Without having to reduce emissions, local residents could enjoy better air quality and are more likely to spend time and money in these cleaner areas as compared to more highly polluted ones.
There are several new technologies geared toward creating sustainable roads with a smaller carbon footprint. One Indian company has patented an asphalt formula containing repurposed plastic waste materials. Several research labs are also creating solar roads for bike paths and pedestrian walkways.
Solar reflective pavements are also helping the environment, keeping the air temperature cooler by absorbing far less sunlight than their concrete counterparts. As an added bonus, the cooler air makes it less costly to heat and cool surrounding buildings by reducing the energy required for temperature control.
These initiatives aren’t the only infrastructure innovations making waves. Electromagnetic trains may soon provide zero-emission transportation. These technologies will help connect people to centers of commerce without contributing to smog, allowing more people to live, work, and play in these environments without suffering ill effects.
As consumers grow weary of highly processed foods and poor access to freshly farmed goods in urban areas, some companies are bringing agriculture into the heart of crowded cities. One such company, Freight Farms, ships containers and supplies to city residents so they can participate in growing and farming their own, local food. With about 43% of Millennials not trusting big food brands, this innovation solves one of the pain points of living far from agricultural centers, which are typically located in more rural communities.
The growing availability of fresh, locally sourced ingredients may draw more prospective tenants to multifamily living and drive profit in city restaurants and grocery stores. Growing ingredients in the same area they will be consumed also reduces shipping costs and the emissions associated with product movement.
The Future of CRE Development
Without a doubt, the future of CRE is green. Consumer demand necessitates that commercial development prioritize the use of cleaner, more sustainable resources, and it is becoming increasingly more profitable and less expensive to do so. Behaving in an ethical manner and improving society are business priorities for about 65% of Millennials, so green initiatives will soon become the norm, as this generational cohort comprises a majority of the US workforce. Preserving the planet through sustainable initiatives ensures that society, and commercial real estate, thrives for years to come.
For more information on environmental sustainability in CRE, check out The Rise of Environmental Consciousness in Commercial Real Estate Development