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Building a better environment

The Asia-Pacific region is the world’s fastest growing green building market. Why?
Jane Henley

Building

I recently read a young woman’s blog where she discussed her volunteer work. She wants to be a movie star and felt it was a good way to grab people’s attention. It made me think about the motivations for people to do ‘good’.

Two developers in New Zealand, Ngai Tahu Property and Samson Corporation, have recently achieved the pinnacle of ‘good’ in the building industry with their 6-Green-Star certified buildings (Geyser in Auckland and the Christchurch Civic Building respectively) demonstrating World Leadership under the New Zealand Green Building Council’s Green Star rating scheme.

Like our aspiring actress, their good work has been an effective means of attracting attention but a World Leadership Green Star rating for a building comes with a price tag, so it must mean more to them than an attention-grabbing publicity stunt. It must be good business. In the United States, green-rated buildings sell for an average of 7.5 percent more. In New Zealand several recent sales of large office buildings to international investors required a Green Star rating as part of the sale agreement.

Because developers do not actually occupy their buildings, much of this goodness is passed on to the tenants. Tenants of green buildings benefit from reduced operating costs and, more importantly, from the healthier more productive workspaces that come with an improved indoor environment inherent in a green building. One of the first Green Star certified buildings, the Meridian Building in Wellington, is showing a nine percent improvement in staff productivity. Wages are a business’s biggest expense, so improvements here can dwarf savings in electricity and water from a purely financial perspective.

Choosing the right environment to run a business from could be the most strategic long-term efficiency move a company makes. The building industry has embraced the challenge to build green with more than 38 office, education and industrial buildings rated under the Green Star system springing up in New Zealand in the past three years.

The Asia-Pacific region is the world’s fastest growing green building market, where the value of green building construction is up from $10 billion in 2005 to around $40 billion in 2008. This market will treble by 2013, to over $100 billion growth.

Green building is making many companies look and feel good for doing good, and will leave a legacy that lasts much longer than any movie.