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ULI panelist laments high costs of energy-efficient buildings

Energy-efficient, or “green,” buildings seem to be all the rage these days.

But high rents in energy-efficient buildings can make them unattractive to tenants.

A panelist at the Urban Land Institute’s spring conference, which was held at the Charlotte Convention Center from Tuesday through Thursday, expressed that last thought.

“We are constantly thinking of what we can do to help make affordable, multifamily developments sustainable,” Caroline Blakely, vice president of multifamily risk for Fannie Mae, said during a panel discussion Tuesday. “We are really trying to provide enough financing to make apartment buildings as healthy and sustainable as possible.”

There’s a limit to how much tenants are willing to pay to be in an energy-efficient building, she said, adding that such buildings tend to have higher rents than older buildings that aren’t as
energy-efficient.

“Maybe we should send the energy savings to the tenants instead of the building owner,” she said. “But that’s a hot topic when you’re talking to building owners.”

Featured speakers at the conference included Carol Browner, a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and adviser to President Barack Obama; Erskine Bowles, former co-chairman of Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform; Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy;  Peter Pappas, president of Pappas Properties; and Charles Teal, CEO of Saussy Burbank.

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