Buyers will pay more for properties in eco friendly and nature based developments. Today’s buyers, millennials in particular, have an increased interest in healthy lifestyles and environments. It is entirely possible to meet the needs of the present without compromising the future, and it does not necessarily have to be a scenario of economy vs ecology.

Terms such as “endangered species, wetlands, and clean water act 404” may send Realtors and developers alike running for cover, but development design using nature as the backbone can actually cost less in the short term and the long term. Consider the potential expense of a complete system of storm sewers vs a natural restored prairie wetland. Consider also that less infrastructure can mean less time for entitlement and permitting processes. And we all know that in the development business, like so many others, time is money!

Among the steps required to determine whether this approach will benefit your development buyer is to engage an ecological services company whose job it is to come up with sustainable solutions. Some of the steps involved in this process will include site analysis, project design and revenue management. Another alternative to analyzing a predetermined property would be to identify other appropriate sites that could benefit from this approach, perhaps to avoid what could be considered a future environmental issue. Putting degraded nature back to work is actually more financially viable than most people realize. Nature is far more productive by itself than farm land. One acre of balanced ecosystem has more market value than one productive acre of farm land does.

It may be possible to analyze local real estate offerings to find ecological project opportunities and create environmental profit center programs, salable environmental products/values and significantly increase the profit margins by taking advantage of wetland mitigation banking and the placement of conservation easements on portions of completed projects with salable tax credits available.

By decreasing the environmental impact of a development with less paving, concrete and grading, etc., you can increase the bottom line profit and create a more more marketable and therefore a higher end inventory.

Kem Winternitz, ALC
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