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Why are LOHAS interested in green buildings?

by Wolfgang Speer

How green building increases the attractiveness of office properties

The term “green building” is a hot topic in the construction and real estate industry, but with different meanings depending on the perspective.

For whom are green buildings being built?

Awareness of and interest in sustainable lifestyles continues to grow in our modern knowledge society. More and more people interested in sustainable, green consumption practices are joining the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) movement. Today, almost 30% of consumers in Germany consider themselves part of the core LOHAS movement or are affiliated with the movement in some way with more people joining every day.

This consumer group is highly sought after in the marketing world. Why? Because LOHAS are a hybrid target group that combines conservative values with status-based consumption. In other words, they want an electric car, but with attractive design and high-quality performance.

LOHAS represent a highly attractive group of individuals not only as consumers, but also as employees. They tend to have above-average education and, in many cases, aspire to executive positions. By making their company headquarters or branch office a green building, companies are putting their professed concern with sustainability into practice in their real estate as well, providing LOHAS something with which they can identify.

Is the term “green building” just a marketing slogan?

No, it’s much more than that. Under the Paris Agreement governments and companies have made a commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 25%. That is why globally active companies are already requesting green building certification as a minimum standard in the leases they sign, making sure that they have access to measurable values they can use in their reduction targets. The term “green building” has already begun to shift from a marketing slogan to a factor that plays a key role in economic targets and climate protection.

As a result, green building certification is not only attractive for LOHAS but can mean added value for companies as well. Green buildings offer numerous hard and soft benefits for everyone.

Advantages for companies (tenants):
  • Lower operating expenses: reduced consumption of electricity, water and energy.
  • Satisfaction and productivity: Studies show that employees who work in green buildings perform better and are happier, particularly if the corporate culture is effective as well.
  • Your office is your calling card: Having a green building gives potential business partners and applicants a positive image of your company.
  • Compliance with climate protection requirements: Green buildings can help companies achieve their Paris Agreement targets.
  • Coveted target groups: attracts LOHAS as potential employees and customers.
Advantages for owners (landlords):
  • Higher rental income: Studies conducted in the U.S. show that green buildings generate around 6% higher rental income on average
  • Lasting value: Certified green buildings go for higher purchase prices.
  • Added value for occupiers: Certification can be used to effectively attract potential tenants.
Advantages for the construction and real estate industry:
  • Construction companies are interested in building green buildings, because they add a further property development incentive, promote sustainable building materials and the application of high-quality building standards creates a sustainable quality standard.
Advantages for everyone:
  • Everyone benefits because green building encourages the use of healthy materials and a sustainable lifestyle around the world. Green buildings reduce toxins and carbon footprints. They also serve as attractive workspaces.

When it comes to evaluating green building certificates, researchers and consultants in the real estate market particularly look at their direct impact on people. We refer to this as the MAI factor (people, workplace, property). Looking at these aspects shows us that a purely technical certification does not make a building attractive per se. If only the infrastructure and the building envelope are “green,” the property does not stand out significantly from conventional office buildings.

It is therefore in the common interest of property developers, investors and occupiers to interpret the term green building as holistically as possible. The workplace landscape and well-being of employees are decisive factors that determine the material and immaterial value of a green building.

Hard facts: who decides what makes a building green?

A green building is officially defined as a building characterized by high resource efficiency in terms of materials and consumption, while reducing harmful effects on health and the environment. Ideally, these standards are maintained throughout the building’s life cycle, from property development, design and construction to operation, maintenance and demolition. In addition to environmental concerns, green buildings often focus on social and economic aspects by including a daycare center (social aspect) and minimizing life-cycle costs (economic aspect).

In order for a building to officially be labeled green, it needs to have the right certification. The most well-known green building certificates are BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method), LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council).

 

 

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