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Green Offices: What to Consider When Buying a New Working Space

How to Buy a Green Office That meets Your Needs.

Many of us are familiar with the paperless office, but that’s just one of the many aspects of a green office. And not only in terms of interior design and décor, the term green today refers to the spirit of eco-friendliness, and perhaps a health-friendly environment. Some known pros of a paperless working area is its cost-effectiveness and eco-friendliness—which it achieves by eliminating paper and streamlining processes. Now, the green home or office seeks to achieve the same, but at a better level. No wonder more office ownersare shifting to green properties as environmental conservation and cost saving becomes a priority. There’s been remarkable growth and progress in the US green real estate market over the past decade. And if you have been tweeting lately, you must have come across quite number of hash tags advocating for green working places and homes. We may as well say green properties are today’s trend. However, before you exit your current premise to move to an eco-friendly office, you must consider a few things. First, you have to come to terms with the reality that most green eco-friendly offices are slightly costlier than other properties. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say green is trending Studies show that approximately, three-quarters of property buyers today begin a search with a strong focus on green designs, even if their knowledge about green housing is fuzzy. Though many buyers focus on an energy-efficient building, only half care to go green. As a result, green housing has been used by tricksters to market non-eco-friendly property as eco-friendly. So it’s advisable to be wary when buying. You can’t just decide you need a green office or home –out of the blues— before asking yourself questions like; • What’s in it for you? • Why not any standard office? • What features are you looking for? • What do you intend to enjoy from the green office that your normal working space isn’t offering? This is important, because many times a property buyer can mean four different things when they come looking for a green property. Even though the implications may overlap, we can’t ignore the discrepancies.

Whatdoes Green really Mean? - 4 ways to define it.

To some buyers, green may simply mean saving on energy costs. Are you looking for on energy-saving office equipment, proper insulation and all-weather windows? On the other hand, some buyers characterize green in terms of personal health. Do you want an office relies on non-toxic material because of certain health effects triggered by existing equipment? The third group of buyers sees green as a factor that contributes to sustainable development. Are you an environmentalist? Do you want an office built using the locally available equipment? And the last group is all about design and looks. Vegetation hanging on walls, aquatic presence and so on. So what does green mean to you? One, a specific combination or all of the above?

Which type of agent should you look for?

If you are out to invest in a serious green working space, it’s advisable to work with an agent who specializes in selling green offices. Having been in the business for some time, they will put you in a better position to see the smallest details of a green property. You can visit nearby local companies and discuss with an expert in green real estate. If you have to seek the services of a broker or real estate agent, make sure they have something to prove they qualify for the job. Ask for a certification or license—though it’s important to remember that there are very few standardized certifications for green properties. There are plenty of brokers with years of experience in green housing who have don't any credentials to show. Therefore, it’s only wise to use your wits to establishing which agent to work with. Don’t be deceived by the certificate, the mere presence of a paper doesn't necessarily mean the agent is an expert.

Consider the Following before Buying a Green Property.

So what are some of the factors to consider when looking to purchase a green property? Well, what to look for may differ from one company to another based on its priorities, needs, employee base and the purpose of the office. That being said, don’t forget to look into these elements before entering any deal. 1.

Look for the features of a green Office.

Most property buyers can tell quite a bit about a property just by the first glimpse at the appliances. The aspect of energy-efficiency is a vital factor. Next, they focus on the windows, are they double pane? If yes, they move to one last feature, the heating system and air-conditioning of the property. If you stop your inspection at that, you will miss out on the important aspects of a green working space. You want to design an office that will satisfy your definition of a green property. So you want to create a checklist in advance. And it must be comprehensive with qualities like the paperless focused office, tech-enabled yet energy efficient. It must also consider staff operations, movement around the office, and how all these will happen in a green eco-friendly manner. Its general layout and design must fit your definition of green—which may change depending on your industry and priorities. Insulation is also very important. This is usually significant in approximating the overall utility bill. You really want to save some dollars when sorting utility bills therefore if this doesn’t work to your advantage then there’s no sense in buying the property. The only way to get to the bottom of the matter is to seek for an energy audit of the property. It will cost you about $500. While the audit is supposed to reflect the energy efficiency, we can’t ignore the aspect of human behavior and how it can largely affect the bill. The culture of the previous property owner might contribute to a higher or lower bill, still having a hint about it could help you do a comparison and weigh options. You want the best working space therefore do not hesitate to ask questions concerning the quality of the green features. Ask for documentation to help you determine the worth of what you are buying. Nevertheless, don’t forget that the certification process for most green features have not yet been standardized. But if you can get your hands on these papers, make sure you have a good look. 2.

Does itaccommodate a Paperless Culture?

Many office owners think the physical design of an office has nothing to do with going paperless but that isn’t true. A paperless office seeks to cut the use of paper based document and move to tech-enabled methods of documentation. In a paper-free office, paper documents are converted into a computer-readable format and then stored as electronic records. One of the technologies that help in managing electronic documents are scanners that rely on image technology. The data in paper form is changed to digital format and stored in multiple media like tape, disk, microfilm, tape, disk, etc. The fact that you’re ditching papers means a lot when it comes to office design because, for example, you won’t really need huge file cabinets occupying you already small green office. Instead you’re after a digital office design built to accommodate a paperless team while also considering workers’ health with ergonomically-friendly furniture with features like sit-stand solutions. That way, you can help keep your workers fit because—with everything in digital format—there’s little movement in a paperless office. You don’t also need space for things like printers and fax machines which is why you should insist on a new minimalist layout that will smooth operations in a paperless environment. 3.

Check the Office’s orientation on the land- and location too.

More often than not, buyers going for green ignore the aspect of orientation and location. The green office is not just a green construction; it's a property that should make the best use of the land on which it stands. Looking into some aspects like its orientation in relation to direction can tell a lot more about the competence of a green property. Wondering how? Well, orientation will determine the level of exposure to sunrays. This will, in turn affect heating and definitely, the air-conditioning. Similarly, it's an added advantage to understand the direction of the prevailing winds. Knowledge in wind direction is important as winds do affect the internal temperature of a building. When surveying the exterior, be keen on the landscaping. Ensure the vegetation around can survive the surrounding conditions. Most of the plants should be native, if the surrounding dominated by non-native vegetation; you should begin considering other options. You don’t want a front yard full of withered flowers; it takes away a lot from the curb appeal of a property. Another challenge with non-native plants is that they will increase your maintenance costs, especially if the office is located in an area where water is a scarce resource. Therefore non-native vegetation will make going green even harder. Sustainable landscaping requires a deep understanding on the type of plants and trees to pick. Make sure the plants don't require as much maintenance as a lawn. On location, of course you want a strategic location for your office so check for factors like nearness to the town center. But don’t hesitate to move to remote areas if such environments are the most appropriate for your company. Also, drive around to see if the neighborhood supports green living. 4.

Is the seller green-minded?

Real recognize real! And if you really care about green, you should look for a seller who thinks and lives green. It’s not difficult to find tell. Just by engaging the agent or seller in a talk about the features of a green building; you can figure out how much they know about going green. Keep asking questions about green- the more you ask, the more likely you are to figure out if the office is indeed green or just a green wash. To be in a better position to tell the difference, carry out a research before embarking on the search for an office. The internet is well supplied with short lists on how to tell if anoffice is green without much effort. In case you realize the seller has not made an effort to make updates of the features in your checklists, there’s a chance the property is a green wash. On the other hand sellers or agents who are passionate about green are usually have well informed about their properties. 5.

Think about the mortgage.

Since green properties are a new trend, buyers find it difficult to get lenders to recognize the “true” value of a green properties. Most lenders have not been quick to go green—maybe not as quick as buyers have been. This is because there are only a few green buildings around; no lender wants to give out thousands of dollars without seeing a comparable. The good news is; because of the low utility cost and eco-friendly material used in green designs, currently there are optional forms for buyers that will help the appraiser consider you. These factors will work to your advantage—while the appraiser determines the value of your property—as they are likely to approve your mortgage application. 6.

Size matters- smaller is better.

Bigger is known to be better, but in green real estate, smaller is better. While this could be difficult to accept and understand from a layman’s point of view, a green mind can easily interpret it in terms of energy efficiency. Your aim is to cut down on utility bills; therefore you don’t want a weirdly large office that will require too much energy to sustain. A reasonably small office constructed to with eco-friendliness in mindwill cause only a small negative impact on the environment compared to a large premise. Cooling a large building requires too much heat. In doing so,you’ll have missed the whole meaning of going green. Therefore, when shopping for a green premise, be keen to look into its size. Ensure it is manageable and cost effective. Even the compound should not be too large. You don’t want to spend in the clouds justto maintaining the plants around. 7.

The painting matters- avoid the VOCs and toxic fungicides.

We can’t ignore the aesthetic significance of painting in the interior of a building. If the property was been repainted before being staged for sale, it’s important to know the type of paint used. Let the seller be clear on this. Most paints are manufactured with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are a threat to your health. These paints produce gases for weeks, and this has been linked to nausea, eye complications, respiratory ailments and cancer. To make it worse, these paints also contain poisonous biocides and fungicides that can last in the atmosphere for several years. Oil-based paints are “notorious” for VOCs (40 - 60 %). Water-based paints contain 5-10 % lesser. Therefore you should check for the best-and most eco-friendly paints; those that contain terpenes (plant-based VOCs) and make use natural pigments. Another healthy option is the milk paint which is made of casein- which is a milk protein.

The Bottom Line

Though it is a known fact all over the US that green real estate is a growing industry, there’s still few legislation to protect buyers. Therefore it is still a target for thorny agents who are looking for naïve consumers to exploit. Whatever property you choose at the end of the long search will determine how green you have gone soon after. Just make sure the office is green and not a green wash. Be vigilant when questioning agents or property sellers. Most of them are out to stage properties that aren’t really green after doing only a few energy-saving renovations. The best approach is to jot down a small list of the things you prioritize and carry it along when going for an inspection.Note them down in a Smartphone and refer to them secretly. Lastly, if you are out to invest in a serious green working space, it’s advisable to work with an agent who specializes in selling green offices. Having been in the business for some time, they will put you in a better position to see the smallest details of a green property. It can be so stressing to realize later that after working tirelessly for a mortgage— which you still have to repay—your green office does not meet half of the things you anticipated when moving in.

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