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Revamping Older Commercial Spaces for a Green Market

Contemporary trends point toward green buildings, which includes taking older spaces and revamping them for modern usage. However, investors must look at more than just renovating an older commercial structure and modernizing it. Those who want to see less waste also want green features in their buildings.

The market for green commercial spaces is growing rapidly. About 35 percent of clients looking to lease or buy commercial space want green space. Recent growth in the green building market is at about 20 percent and expected to increase both in the United States and around the globe in the next few years.

If you’d like to invest in an older commercial space and turn it into modern, green space, here are seven things you should keep in mind.

1. Some clients look for LEED certification

A LEED-certified building meets specific requirements for lower energy usage and better indoor air quality. In one survey, about 55 percent of people said they would pay extra for products and services from a company that made positive strides to reduce its impact on the environment. On the labor side, another study showed nearly 95% of Gen Z places value on potential employers’ environmental commitments.

You may have to jump through some hoops to secure LEED certification, but you’ll also attract more buyers or tenants, depending upon whether you plan to sell or rent the office space.

2. Recommission systems

One of the first steps in revamping an older commercial space should be to install the best and most current Energy Star rated equipment possible. Recommissioning means overhauling the HVAC system to ensure it works efficiently and keeps everyone comfortable, looks at electrical components — see more about this topic below under “alternative energy” ideas — and even takes a glance at plumbing and how that functions in the building.

3. Seek out alternative energy

If you want to create a commercial space that is truly green, look at ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Commercial real estate uses about 18. 7 percent of all energy and creates 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, as well as using 88 percent of potable water in the US. If you want to make a real impact in this area, look at ways to create sustainable energy for your company to run on.

This might include updating the electrical system in an old building and adding solar panels to the roof. Wind turbines create another backup source of energy. Reduce water usage in any little way possible. Alternative energy sources help the building have a minimal impact on the environment, something those interested in the green market will appreciate.

4. Understand policies and regulations

Regulations for green buildings and certification vary from location to location and even depending upon what type of green certification you seek — LEED, ASHRAE, etc. You will likely need a permit to install solar panels or wind turbines, so check with your local municipality to see what their requirements are. However, most areas also offer rewards for companies that want to go green, so you may also find it worth the tax incentives to do so.

5. Make small changes

If you have older commercial space but want it to be greener, small changes can make a significant impact. Even simply turning off the lights when a building is empty can help you save on energy usage. One university study showed that simple operational changes like turning off lights in a vacant building could save between 5 and 30 percent on the energy usage of a typical structure.

Even swapping out bulbs for LED bulbs saves a bit of money. There are likely a lot of operational changes that can save even more, such as turning the thermostat up or down when the building is empty. You may also install lights in bathrooms that only illuminate when someone enters the room, rather than staying on throughout the workday.

6. Overcome challenges of revamping interior space

Turning an old commercial building into a modern space is sometimes challenging. For example, if you’re converting a factory into office space, you have to figure out exactly what the needs of tenants might be. Do you need a common area? Will the office space be made up of individual offices, cubicles or open space? You might even want a combination of all of the above.

Load bearing walls can’t easily be moved, and you may run into thousands of dollars of renovations to install beams and move those walls. Revamping an older building requires the creativity of interior architects and the knowledge of building engineers to ensure the finished space is safe for workers and efficient for the needs of businesses.

However, even though the cost is at times prohibitive — and you may need to change your initial plans a few times — the charm and interest of remodeling an older building are likely to attract tenants to your space.

7. Jump in on a growing trend

Green office space is a growing trend, as people realize that small adjustments make a significant impact on the environment and contribute to preserving the beauty of the world for future generations. If you're trying to decide between a property that is brand new and revamping and greening up a current property, consider that you may attract new clients simply by creating something more sustainable that makes use of existing materials, rather than needing new ones.

The green building market is expected to see a 13 percent increase by the year 2020. Now is the time to get in on the trend and start your own remodeling project to create an eco-friendly old building modernized for today’s business needs.

Revamped spaces

Consider the clients in your area and the types of buildings they’re looking for. Is there an unused, older commercial space that you could adapt to suit their needs? If so, then revamping an older building is worth a second look. On the other hand, if a lack of inventory prevails in your area, you may have no choice but to build new. However, there is no rule that you can’t reuse materials from other buildings that have been torn down to make the new building as green as possible.

A delicate balance between new and old is what most business people need in a space. To be as friendly to the environment as possible in this endeavor, either revamp an older space to have modern conveniences or use older materials to decorate and give a new space character.