What Is the True Value of a Vacant or Abandoned Building?

Bronzeville Abandoned Building

The building above may look nondescript, but is actually in a highly favorable location across the street from Shops and Lofts on 47 in the Bronzeville area of Chicago’s Near South Side. Photo Credit: Audrey F. Henderson, all rights reserved.

Any real estate agent or Realtor can tell you that the three most important factors in determining the potential value of a particular parcel of real estate are, in order: location, location, location. Location can trump other aspects of a structure, including whether it is occupied and its state of (dis)repair. In fact, location plays a large role in determining whether a decrepit building is worthy of the financial investment necessary to reclaim it for productive use, assuming of course that it is structurally sound.

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Facades+ Lands in Chicago July 24 and 25

Inland Steel Building North Elevation

The Inland Steel building, completed in 1958, is one Chicago’s most iconic Modernist buildings. Its stainlesss steel facade, although beautiful, presents challenges for environmentally-efficient retrofitting, due in large part to its landmark status.  Photo Credit: Audrey F. Henderson, all rights reserved.

Over two days, Thursday July 24 and Friday July 25, thought leaders from architecture, design and engineering will come together in the heart of downtown for the 2014 Façades+ Chicago Conference to share their insights on the exteriors that shape our first impressions of buildings. The 2014 Chicago conference was organized by The Architect’s Newspaper and Enclos, with YKK-AP serving as the 2014 Conference chair. Luke Smith of Enclos and Edward Peck of Thornton Tomasetti are serving as co-chairs for the Chicago conference, the eighth in the series.

Since 2012, the Façades+ Conference has established itself as the premier conference on high performance building enclosures. Making its launch in New York City, the Façades+ conference has since added Chicago to its lineup. In October 2014 Façades+ will add Dallas to its roster; Los Angeles will join the list of Façades+ sites in 2015.

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“Going Green” With Building and Maintenance Can Put Your Company in the Black

Many companies have adopted the idea of “going green” in conducting their internal affairs or as an overall focus for doing business. As a result, these companies often significantly minimize their environmental impact. In addition, companies that employ green building and maintenance practices enjoy a number of advantages, ranging from an enhanced public image to improved employee working conditions and a more robust bottom line.

Improved customer image

Customers are influenced in their purchasing decisions by whether a business shows environmental consciousness. For instance, Environmental Leader reported in 2007 that 72 percent of rental customers wanted hybrid vehicles included among rental car options. Nearly half of all cell phone customers consider a mobile carrier provider’s “green” credentials.   In a tough housing market, 70 percent of potential home buyers were more inclined to purchase homes with “green” features, according a 2008 Green SmartMarket Report.  Customers also tend to remain loyal to “green” companies during economic downturns.

Enhanced worker productivity

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines “sick building syndrome” to refer to health-related complaints by workers that cannot be attributed to a particular cause but which are present in an indoor environment.   A similar condition, “building related illness,” applies to health-related complaints directly related to airborne contaminants. Symptoms of “sick building syndrome” and “building related illness” include respiratory distress, headache, fatigue and dizziness, according to the EPA.   A survey of 100 office workers conducted by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) revealed that 23 percent suffered symptoms related to “sick building syndrome.”

City Hall Green Roof

In this photo from 2009, the Chicago City Hall side of this building utilizes a green roof, while the Cook County side does not. The Cook County side has since adopted a white roof.  
Photo Credit: Audrey F. Henderson — all rights reserved

The nationwide cost in lost productivity related to “sick building syndrome” amounts to 2 percent annually, according to New York Real Estate Journal. Increasing indoor ventilation and reducing the indoor concentration of carbon dioxide to meet the standards established by LEED V3 diminishes complaints related to “sick building syndrome,” according to research conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.  LEED V3 standards for indoor ventilation call for a 30 percent increase above the 2007 ASHRAE 62.1 ventilation standard of 20 cubic feet per minute (CFM) per person. Substituting nontoxic building materials, cleaning supplies and office equipment that do not emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) greatly reduces airborne contaminants related to “building related illness.” Read the rest of this entry »