What Happened to Green Real Estate?

Whatever happened to Green Real Estate?


When the North American economy was in full force, and the Vancouver real estate market was fully blooming Green building technologies were hot.  Developers were promoting the latest Green additions to their projects, Green marketing was “in”, and consumers found a way to justify higher prices for these qualities.  Since then, whatever happened to Green buildings? Was it a fad or did people actually value these additions to new developments and were willing to pay the price?

This fall, my experience with Downtown Vancouver condo and loft buyers has been disappointing in regards to Green value-adds.  With a target audience of people who appreciate architecture, new technology, and new design, the Green demand has simply been forgotten.  I believe this past 2009 economy has made our consumers very price conscious.  People pay closer attention to what they are paying for and the short term returns.   Even in our past 5 months of true sales and price recoveries, people are shopping with more short term intentions.  Since March 2009, we have seen similar activity to the most active months in 2007 in regards to sales figures and price increases.  (Read last month’s market report)  But people are not acting the same when it comes to buying property.   

Recently while promoting the environmental advantages of one of Vancouver’s few Green buildings “Pomaria,” (See below) a LEED tower in Downtown Vancouver, in more than one case, my clients would not consider the Green advantages while comparing prices to similar properties in the area.  I felt disappointed, and slightly concerned.  I brought up this issue amongst a few people in the industry, and they experienced similar feedback from other clients.  Does this mean, now that the bottom line is “more important than ever,” people are forgetting about Green technology, and the long-term effects on the environment?

While attending a UDI (Urban Development Institute) development course last week, I spoke to other professionals within the industry about the possibilities of new Green initiatives being implemented by developers for upcoming projects, they quickly responded with the answer “no”.  As expected, they asked if I have had experienced any demand or requests for these types of features from consumers.  You can imagine where this conversation led...

My point of this article is that I hope that the Green initiatives can once again be absorbed and demanded by consumers. 
At this time I believe the pressure will have to come from government and planning departments.  If there were tax advantages with certain Green guidelines for new developments this could cause some very positive energy.  The reality is very few people are willing to pay the price up-front.  Developers are not willing to add Green features if consumers are not willing to pay extra.       

Pomaria 1455 Howe St – LEEDE residential condo tower
1455 Howe outside Pomaria 23

Pomaria is a 30 storey residential tower located in False Creek North in Downtown Vancouver.  It was developed in 2007 by Qualex-Landmark and designed by Rafii Architects and Robert Ledingham.   Pomaria was amongst the first and only developments to pursue LEED.  This building has been designed to enhance living while considering some Green technologies including: a unique ventilation system, geothermal/geoexchange heating and cooling system, storm water management system, specially selected materials, and low volume/consumption appliances and fixtures.  All these systems are designed to lower its impact and increase its long term sustainability.    http://www.pomaria.com/

Written by Paul Albrighton.- also posted at http://www.albrighton.ca/blog.html