PROVADA, the Real Estate Meeting Point, took place this week in Amsterdam at the RAI conference center, from June 16-18. Over a period of three days the event drew a wide range of representatives from institutional investment funds, banks, building contractors, housing corporations, municipalities, property developers, architects, real estate agents, government organizations, and tenants and end users. This year with the PROVADA Green Forum the event placed increasing emphasis on the importance of sustainability in global property markets.
By Bernd Struben, Senior Editor, Real Estate Publishers
Co-sponsored by the Dutch Green Building Council, Triodos Bank, and SenterNovem, the PROVADA Green Forum offered a large area of floor space for various innovative companies pursuing sustainable 'green' agendas and providing novel technologies and methods to reduce the impact of the built environment on the world. Methods ranged from superior construction (or renovation) methods to improving occupant behavior. On the development side recycled concrete, heat pumps, roof gardens, smart climate control systems, solar and wind energy, lake source cooling, and double façades were among the concepts being touted to eventually reach a goal of producing zero-consumption buildings. On the occupier side a large part depends on educating the tenants, and perhaps passing the costs of poor use on to them. Occupiers can help by properly setting thermostats, turning off the lights, and limiting water use.
A number of informative presentations were offered each day by keynote speakers including Professor Piet Eicholtz, University of Maastricht, Charles Landry, author of the Art of City Making, Drs. Peter Jagers, Dr. Nils Kok, Dutch Minister Jacqueline Cramer, and Dr. Herman Scheer, Member of German Parliament and Chairman of Eurosolar. (For a complete list of speakers see: http://www.provada.nl/congressen2009_detail.php?congres_id=55. )
Some interesting points and sound-bites:
- Sustainable development costs more money but it also returns that money in time; depending on the level of extras involved payoff time for implementing sustainable improvements can vary from 2 years to 20 years.
- Sustainable property is "on the tipping point" of being in great demand and able to return healthy profits.
- Builders tend to construct right up to the mandated minimal energy conservation standards, but not beyond it.
- Better internal atmosphere increases worker productivity and encourages customers to spend more time in stores.
- Companies desiring a 'green image' are willing to pay substantially more for sustainable office space.
- In well controlled studies in the US, 'green offices' showed 16-17% higher values, 7.5% higher occupancy rates, and rents of 2-3% more than 'non-green' offices. (A smaller US based study showed similar trends in the retail sector.)
- Investors should not only concern themselves with what tenants want today, but with what they will want in 10 years.
- An extensive study on the Dutch residential market showed that homes with well performing energy labels sold for 3.5-5.4% more; for apartments that increased to 4.7-6.6%