Building Renewal Series #6: Marketing a High-Performance Building


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Sensitivity to energy and the environment, along with consumer demand, has pushed the commercial real estate market to focus on energy-efficient, high-performance buildings. In turn, real estate professionals must quickly become familiar with these changes, including how to successfully market properties to potential investors and occupants. Integrating accurate messaging throughout your organization’s marketing and communications is critical—regardless of platform.

Why You Should Market Your Building
Reducing energy and carbon emissions has emerged as a leading component of sustainability and represents the most direct path to increasing bottom-line benefits. The value of energy efficiency is rapidly increasing, as is the risk of inaction. Marketing your high-performance building can help maximize the potential value of your investment and increase your competitive advantage. To market effectively, you need to understand who your audience is, where to reach them, and how to position the benefits of your high-performance building.

Audience Motivators
It is important to understand what drives your potential investors and tenants. Is it strictly financial, or do other benefits—including non-energy impacts such as enhanced worker productivity, improved thermal control, tenant comfort, and better lighting quality—factor into their decision? Some benefits may not be as tangible; however, they should not be overlooked, as they may lead to financial paybacks. Understanding these needs along with evolving societal expectations, and market trends that may impact occupancy and productivity will help you create and tailor messaging that will resonate and attract interested prospects.

Communicate the Benefits
When meeting with potential investors or tenants, tailor your messaging to your audience. Not all investors have the same interests or concerns, and the same goes for tenants. Find out what their needs are and directly address them. For some, energy efficiency ties in with their corporate image and policies, employee benefits, and community relationships. Others may only be interested in reducing costs associated with operating the building. When a company truly embraces energy efficiency and the benefits it provides, the practice becomes ingrained in the organization rather than merely being a box to check. The more the efforts are aligned with the overall values of a company, the more attractive and effective the appeal will be.

Connect with your audience on a personal level by telling stories using analogies, equivalents, and verifiable numbers—but remember, less is more. Too many numbers can be overwhelming, so limit them to high-level points such as cost per sq. ft. and savings as they relate to energy efficiency upgrades. Tell your audience why something is of value to help clarify your pitch and speak to the benefits of energy efficiency upgrades or retrofits, not their technical features.

Keep messages consistent in verbal and visual marketing communications to avoid misleading consumers about the environmental practices of a company—also known as greenwashing. Specifically, avoid messaging that misleads, overstates, or provides contradictory information. With so many people trying to market “green” buildings, provide specifics and support, and qualify terms. Go beyond stating claims such as “energy efficient,” “carbon neutral,” and “sustainable,” which can be vague and uncompelling when not accompanied by supportive documentation. Integrating this thinking across your marketing efforts is key.

Redefining “Value”
The financial indicators and value placed on the human and environmental side of the equation are only getting stronger. This is an investment business with expected outcomes, so highlight the financial returns, potential savings, and the increased market value high-performance buildings provide. Position these rewards as realistic and obtainable, while using the language of the industry.

Incremental costs for a high-performance building can be recouped through savings on energy costs. Discuss the potential for better ROI, higher net operating income, and internal rate of return. These can help maximize the potential value of your investment and increase your competitive advantage. The financial benefits of a high-performance building should not be judged based on initial costs alone. It is just as important to communicate the cumulative savings of the less tangible and/or non-energy benefits, as mentioned above.

Other communication strategies to consider:

  • Use metaphors, analogies, and stories. There are many issues and hot-button items that dominate the emotional space of real estate professionals. Linking or equating energy efficiency to these issues can raise awareness.
  • Speak to the experience the building can deliver to occupants compared to others in the market, such as increased comfort due to an upgraded HVAC system and/or windows, improved indoor air quality, and dynamic, networked lighting.
  • Position energy efficiency or energy-use reduction as positive in terms of functionality and operation of buildings and in terms of tenant experience—never an area of sacrifice.
  • Maintain message consistency. Does your sales pitch get translated correctly between the owner, the leasing broker, the tenant representative, and the tenant? If a flyer focuses on locations, the website focuses on views, and the broker focuses on sustainability, potential tenants can lose focus.
  • Identify where tenants find properties—such as through representative brokers, listing services, word-of-mouth, news, and personal experiences—and target those information sources.

Additional Resources
Check out the Building Renewal Series on BetterBricks.com to learn more about this important, comprehensive process:

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