Sustainability has evolved from a passing trend or niche preference into an undeniable, growing driver of the real estate market. This is particularly true as millennials comprise an increasing proportion of the workforce, home-buying population, and individuals influencing the future of real estate development in the United States.
If anything illustrates the significance of younger generations’ increasing interest in sustainability, it is the Global Climate Strike that drew participation of many thousands of young people, with 2,500 events scheduled in over 150 countries. In New York City, 1.1 million public school students were excused from school to join the strike in an event planned to precede the UN Summit, which itself was intended to push countries toward a commitment to faster transition to renewable energy and stricter climate targets. While both policymakers and citizens of previous generations have been split on their willingness to address global climate change with urgency, younger generations are feeling a stronger sense of responsibility for curbing the world’s trajectory towards a climate catastrophe, which will be inherited by them and their children. This has manifested in action that promotes awareness of and political action with respect to these issues—such as the Global Climate Strike—as well as evolving habits and preferences in both consumer goods and real estate.
In recent years, real estate developers have recognized that there is a market for “greener” developments that reduce annual expenditures on buildings, whether it be through small spaces requiring less electricity and promoting energy efficiency, or through renewable energy options such as solar photovoltaic power. Some real estate developers have chosen to install these options themselves, while others seek out sustainable financing options to cover the costs of renewable energy. If installing renewable energy is too costly, real estate developers will seek out more cost-effective locations for their brick-and-mortar operations.