Benefits from having Rooftop Ecologies

There are numerous benefits of having a rooftop ecology on your building. They are identical to the reasons that the building industry has to change.  Moving the building industry in Japan to realise these changes is part of the reason for existence.

The listed benefits are with a few exceptions as outlined in the Rocky Mountain Institute paper Green Development: Integrating Ecology and Real Estate (1998), which was summarized in the seminal work on ecology and economy” The Natural Advantage of Nations” by The Natural Edge Project of Australia.

The advantages as listed in chapter 18 of the Natural Advantage of Nations are as follows..

Economic

Product differentiation

Market niche (health and productivity, green investment)

Streamlined design costs.

Reduced capital costs

Reduced operating costs

Increased market value (value premium) for the developer

Faster leasing (absorption/occupancy rate) with increased rents for the building manager

Customer mortgage and rebate incentives (reducing the up front capital costs means reduced pay back period)

Public relations, word of mouth and referrals (being green comes with societal perception benefits)

New business oppportunities

Social

Indoor health

Higher work productivity  for business occupants

Reduced Costs over the life of the building

Employee/Tenant satisfaction from doing the right thing

Improved Company-Society linkages (CSR on the cheap)

Environmental

Improved resource use

Reduced carbon footprint

Institutional

Streamlined approvals

Reduced liability risks

Partnership and funded research opportunities

Keeping ahead of industry regulations and market advances

Some other things not mentioned in the book that I can think of.

Reduced Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions

Improved waste management processes

Reduced load on city services

Reduced Heat Island effect

Increased air and water filtering and purification

Improved Company-Society linkages (CSR on the cheap)

Improved cash flow opportunities

Ecology savings help pay for further efficiency improvements

1. Product Differentiation.

When you have the only rooftop ecology in the area people notice. Especially in an area where people are looking down on your roof from higher buildings. However as an enterprise Rooftop Ecology is seeking ways in which to construct businss to community connections (where the most vulnerable members of the local community tend to the ecology for a share of the numerous benefits, mainly the food produced). The effect of this  means that your ecology will draw public attention (both in the media and in the local community) for essentially zero cost. A company assisting in a triple bottom line endeavor such as this i.e pursuing not merely the bottom line of profits but ecological and societal benefits sets itself apart from the herd. Just think of Anita Roddick, the founder of the Body Shop.

2. Market Niche (Health and productivity,  green investment)

Having a company or real estate agency association with rooftop ecology is essentially generating money for nothing. Building owners lease space for free to Rooftop Ecology and benefit in a multitude of ways,  all at no cost either in terms of capital or administrative load increases. It’s not like they’re using their roof anyway.

3. Streamlined design costs (arising out of having the ecology do a lot of the work for you)

If you are required by law or by competition to perform a building upgrade, would you have the know how to do that? How much would it cost to bring in consultants who only work for a fee and walk away after handing out their words of wisdom? Rooftop Ecology takes something you’re not using and designs in features that will help your company meet the regulations that would require you to spend money on upgrading the building.

4. Reduced capital cost (If the ecology is keeping your building cool in summer and warm in winter you can cut back on equipment)

This is more of an issue in a new building, however if a rooftop ecology is included from the beginning then it changes the operating parameters of your building for the better such that you AC/heating systems can be reduced in size, cost and complexity, all of which translates into capital cost reductions. However most architects are clueless about this.

On the other hand, roof maintenance is an expensive proposition. A rooftop ecology by virtue of its intercepting UV radiation and acting as a thermal barrier on the roof has the potential to  greatly extend the lifespan of your existing roof. As a small or medium sized businessman this means you don’t have to go cap in hand to the bank asking for a loan to do it.

5. Reduced operating costs (If you don’t put the machines in you don’t pay to operate them)

Electricity and gas bills for heating and cooling are reduced.  Additionally costs because of phantom load,  all those machines on standgy are reduced.  Nothing reduces phantom load better than getting rid of equipment because it’s un-necessary.

6. Increased market value (value premium for the developer from the eco-cachet)

Eco-design features on your building differentiate your building from others. Differentiation means it’s worth more,though as can easily be appreciated there are other reasons why a building with a rooftop ecology would be worth more – it’s just a more efficient building.

7. Faster leasing (absorption/occupancy rate) with increased rents for the building manager

This is by virtue of a building’s desirability. If clients come to the building and say Wow because of what’s on the roof you can bet they’d pay extra and jump at an opportunity to become an occupant and be loathe to leave when they do.

8. Customer mortgage and rebate incentives

I take this to mean that when your green actions improve efficiency and reduce costs then you can pay back mortgages faster using the increased cashflow.

9. Public relations, word of mouth and referrals

When you’re doing something triple botttom line ie profits, environment and society all improve, then word gets around.

Social

10. Indoor health (though admittedly this means cycling plants off the roof into the building)

11. Higher work productivity (plants in the building reduces VOC (volatile organic compounds) in the workplace)

12. Reduced Costs over the life of the building (from reduced sick leave, mortgage payments, utility bills etc)

13 Employee/Tenant satisfaction (from doing the right thing)

Environmental

Improved resource use

Reduced carbon footprint

Reduced Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions

Improved waste management processes

Reduced load on city services

Reduced Heat Island effect

Increased air and water filtering and purification

Institutional

Streamlined approvals

Reduced liability risks

Partnership and funded research opportunities

Keeping ahead of industry regulations and market advances

Seen in this way the question is not why should we have a rooftop ecology on our building but how crazy would we be not to have an ecology on our roof.

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