Real Estate Round-up
Roger Staubach says it's easy being "green"
Roger Staubach used to be the best quarterback to play football in the state of Texas. Known as “Roger the Dodger” because he could run as well as he could throw, Staubach led the Dallas Cowboys to the Super Bowl four times.
Now he plays a different game — corporate real estate.
Staubach, executive chairman of the Jones Lang LaSalle international real estate firm, spends much of his time talking to CEOs and company presidents.
So what does he hear from all of these corporate leaders? Sure, they want to know about the cost of renting office space. And CEOs are always trying to find smart ways expand and build new factories.
But Roger is hearing a new refrain these days: “How can my buildings be more green?”
CEOs care about having a sustainable operation for their company, Staubach says. A company that has a reputation as an environmentally responsible firm has a better public image and can attract better employees.
The corporate “buy-in” for green ideals is substantial and the demand for green buildings has exploded, says Staubach, who recently sat down for an interview at the Houstonian hotel.
“People are looking at buildings differently. Companies really are into it,” Staubach says.
Before we go teary-eyed thinking about eco-conscious corporations, I might add a word about the other green — money. Companies can save a lot of money by being in a green building with great energy efficiency. Developers can get bigger rents – and make more money – by building properties that are considered green and energy efficient.
Slap on the Label
You can’t identify a green building by looking at it from the curb. So, naturally, a system for rating green properties was developed. The one you hear the most about is “LEED Certified.” Think of this as the Energy Star label you might find slapped on the side of your new washing machine.
LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” and it is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council. Since the LEED program began in 1998, thousands of projects – over 1 billion square feet of properties – have been LEED certified.
There are levels of certification – silver, gold and platinum – depending on what improvements and modifications are made to a building. It’s not just use of electricity and energy efficiency standards that must be met, the standards also cover water usage, indoor air quality and much more. Does the building have proper storage for bicycles? Were recycled materials used in constructing the building?
Newly built structures can be LEED certified before completion and older buildings can be retrofitted to gain LEED certification honors.
Houston’s Green Towers
In late November, two of Houston’s most prominent skyscrapers announced that they have been LEED certified.
In the Galleria area, the 64-story Williams Tower, still known by many Houstonians as the Transco Tower, earned LEED Gold certification by accomplishing a lot more than energy efficiency. The building gained points by having water saving restroom fixtures, using environmentally sensitive cleaning products and other technical modifications that make sense to experts in the field. The Williams Tower houses headquarters of Hines, the large real estate company that also manages the building.
The 56-story Bank of America, 700 Louisiana in downtown Houston, also just received LEED Gold certification. The distinctive building, wrapped in red granite, has a steeply pitched gabled roofline topped with spires – in addition to being green.
Houston’s new office projects are also deep into the quest for green. Trammell Crow Company’s 30-story Discovery Tower, which is under construction at 1501 McKinney in the eastern part of downtown, is “precertified” as LEED Gold. The building will be topped with wind turbines to generate electricity.
The green movement has established deep roots in American real estate. This is no passing fad. And Roger Staubach isn’t passing on the green thing, either.
Ralph Bivins, former president of the National Association of Real Estate Editors, is editor-in-chief ofRealtyNewsReport.com.