Sunday, November 23, 2008

Enviro-friendly projects may have funding edge

Anthony Sblendorio, chief executive officer of Ecological Development LLC, at a site in Basking Ridge, NJ, where his company plans to build 12 eco-friendly homes and include some existing agriculture in the development. [Photo: Steven J. Dundas]

As the credit crunch makes it harder than ever to obtain financing from lenders, some real estate players say an environmentally friendly portfolio may offer builders an advantage in securing funds to develop new projects.

That's the theme of a story appearing in today's online edition of NJBIZ.

“In general, financing anything is really difficult, given the credit crunch,” said Robert Politzer, president of Greenstreet Construction Inc., a New York-based builder with a New Jersey office in Princeton. But given the growing popularity of green building, developers who do not have green projects are at a competitive disadvantage, he said. “It would be easier these days to interest a potential funding group, whether a bank or private equity, in building a state-of-the-art green building than a conventional building project.”

Because of the benefits of green building, such as energy efficiency and reduced operating and maintenance costs, “you’re going to see increased tenant demand,” said Jim Lutz, senior vice president of development at Liberty Property Trust, a Malvern, Pa.-based commercial real estate developer that recently completed its first LEED-certified New Jersey project in Mount Laurel. LEED, short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, establishes criteria for the design, construction and operation of sustainable buildings under the U.S. Green Building Council.

Higher demand means higher occupancy rates at green buildings as compared to conventional buildings, so “a lender who’s concerned with making sure that the loan gets paid back is going to see it as a less-risky investment,” Lutz said.

To read the entire story, click here.
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