The top trends driving investments in sustainable commercial buildings were discussed today (2.05) at the Irish Green Building Council’s Green Room Conference.
Environmental factors contribute more and more to the financial performance of real estate portfolios. And, investors will need to put increasing focus on green buildings in the coming years, if they are to maximise returns. These were some of the key messages of the Green Room conference.
Opening the conference Pat Barry, CEO of the Irish Green Building Council said: “The number of green buildings has increased significantly in Ireland over the last 5 years. There are substantial social and economic impacts of choosing green. These buildings create a more productive workplace for occupants and can help with mitigation of climate change. Green Buildings also see benefits for corporate reputation and the building itself has lower volatility in market value”.
Addressing over 150 senior building professionals, Louise Ellison, Head of Sustainability of the UK retail property specialists Hammerson explained why her organisation has adopted a net positive sustainability strategy. “Net Positive is an ambitious target and industry leaders like Hammerson have to raise the bar in this way if we are to tackle the risks presented by climate change.” In Ireland, Hammerson owns Dundrum, the Illac Centre and Swords Pavilions. They are also an investor in Kildare village and are currently developing a new urban quarter on O’Connell St, Dublin.
Reacting to these comments, Charles Van Thiel of the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) said: “The majority of large commercial portfolio owners, including some based in Ireland, are now benchmarking the sustainability of their holdings. Investors expect usable good quality data on the sustainability performance of the portfolios that they are investing in”.
Beyond Corporate Social Responsibility, legislation is also driving demand for more sustainable commercial buildings. Orla Coyle of SEAI said: “Making our buildings more energy efficient is critical in reaching Ireland’s climate targets. The nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB) standard will come into force on the 1st January 2019 for all new commercial development. Regulations are also moving towards the deeper retrofit of our existing building stock”.