At the rate that we are using the Earth’s resources, experts predict that they will be completely depleted by 2050. Awareness around this issue has caused the world to rally around the ideas of sustainable capitalism and “going green.” While this used to be the cry of a dedicated few, now entire industries are changing their practices to help preserve the world as we know it.
Included in this effort are New York City landlords, who are steadily changing their practices to provide more sustainable green options for the 69% of New York City Residents who rent. In September of 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio committed to reducing greenhouse gas emission by 80% below 2005 by 2050, which means retrofitting every public building in the city and some of the 20,000 private buildings, including multifamily buildings, government-assisted affordable housing, and rent-stabilized buildings.
These plans include the implementation of several changes, some of which are being used by buyers as a competitive edge to attract tenants, and others which are implemented simply in response to the mandates from the city:
Air quality control: Air quality has become a huge selling point in buildings, which are citing better ventilation and filtration thanks to HVAC and other mechanical upgrades. Public institutions such as the Apollo Theater, Barclays, and Carnegie Hall are early movers in these types of retrofits.
Improved energy use: Buildings of over 25,000 square feet will benefit from improved lighting that is less likely to deplete energy than current electrical systems. These buildings will also be required to track and report their energy use to show compliance with energy efficient guidelines. This is beneficial on several levels as it will create 3,500 jobs and will provide an answer to the emissions problem, three-quarters of which is attributed to the energy used to heat, cool, and power buildings.
Better building-tenant relationships: Studies aren’t just focused on the relationships between the buildings and the Earth, they are also looking at the relationships between the building and its tenants—measuring the quality of life based on the satisfaction of people who live there. Known as the WELL Building Standard, these measurements were created after 6 years of collaborative research by medical institutions and the building industry, and take into account ratings in seven sectors—air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort and mind.
Don’t forget LEED: The precursor to The WELL Building Standard, LEED—Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—was devised by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation towards sustainable design. In addition to saving money, LEED certified buildings use less water and energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In its fourth version, according to the website, LEED focuses on several aspects of building, including materials and taking a closer look at their composition to understand the longer term effects on human health and environmental impact. Performance-based, means that LEED standards are becoming more concerned with environmental quality and the effect that has on the comfort of the consumer in the building. Smart grid, places a greater focus on integrating responsive systems into the building and construction process, and final, water efficiency is being implemented to more closely evaluate water use within a building.
As time goes on, fueled by both necessity and consumer desires, more landlords will start to follow suit and abide by the mandates being set by these guidelines. To stay up to date with these trends and others affecting the real estate market.