Companies that occupy office space around the world consider sustainability a key factor in their space occupancy plans, and half of corporate real estate executives say they will pay extra for space in green buildings, according to the fourth annual Sustainability Survey conducted by CoreNet Global and Jones Lang LaSalle.
Conducted in the fourth quarter of 2010, the survey results reveal a corporate real estate industry in the process of reconciling the focus on reducing environmental impacts of buildings with the need to control costs and support corporate financial performance.
CoreNet Global, the premier association of corporate real estate professionals worldwide, and Jones Lang LaSalle, a leading global commercial real estate services firm, have conducted the survey each year since 2007. Responses come from around the world, with many responses from multi-national corporate executives. Key findings of the survey include:
- Sustainability is a critical business issue today for 64% of respondents and 92% consider sustainability criteria in their location decisions.
- The number of respondents willing to pay more for green leased space jumped from 37% in 2009 to 50% in 2010.
- 31% of corporate executives ranked employee productivity and health as their top sustainability concern, and an additional 11% rated employee satisfaction as the most important factor.
"Corporations increasingly view sustainability strategies as a permanent aspect of their business, and real estate executives are key to implementing those strategies," said Michael Anderson, Manager of Research and the Knowledge Center at CoreNet Global.
"The high percentage of corporate real estate executives worldwide who consider sustainability in making location decisions shows how deeply this issue is engrained in the business community."
"The Sustainability Survey results reflect an evolution that we're seeing in the industry," said Dan Probst, Chairman of Energy and Sustainability Services at Jones Lang LaSalle.
"Five years ago, a corporate real estate executive might have thought sustainability was a costly way to make the company look good to employees. Two years ago, that same executive probably focused on energy management as a way to save money in the short run. Today, he or she may be pursuing green strategies that enhance employee productivity."
CoreNet Global representatives in the EMEA region have expressed support for the findings:
Stuart Bowman, Director of Energy & Sustainability, hurleypalmerflatt and Vice President for Sustainability at CoreNet Global's UK Chapter, comments, "In the UK, there is a great appetite among occupiers to be more proactive in terms of sustainable solutions. However, both the legal and policy compliance implications of the green lease are often very unclear, and this has caused some inertia. For example, concerning the legal ramifications of the green lease, does it refer to the building or to the people occupying it. There is some uncertainty, and this hinders progress.
"When you compare the UK to countries such as Australia, where the public sector has led the way and the private sector followed suit, we're a ways behind. Certainly, the UK's move towards sustainability is an ethical aspiration, although the business case for it is often constrained by funding, and the legal and policy issues are currently still in a state of flux."
Flip Verwaaijen, Managing Director at TNT and also Chairman of CoreNet Global's Benelux chapter, adds, "Based on the input received from our members, we can conclude that 'greening real estate' is no longer hype. Instead, we need to have a mature discussion on the topic of sustainability, corporate social responsibility and sustainable redevelopment of existing real estate. On top of that we have to focus on our personal behavior."
Paying for green space
The jump in the percentage of respondents saying they would pay extra for green leased space may be a reflection of the more stable economic climate today than in the previo