Case Study: Marketing Green Condos to an Eco-Conscious Consumer

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate Editor As the green movement continues to expand and evolve, more and more people are beginning to understand the value of living in a green apartment home. While there may have been some initial hesitation over paying a premium for such a residence, people are now weighing the costs against the benefits—and they are finding that the advantages are greatly outweighing the drawbacks. For multifamily residents, green has taken on a whole new meaning in New York’s Battery Park City, where Garden City, N.Y.-based developer The Albanese Organization accomplished many of the nation’s green “firsts” in its three eco-friendly high-rises.The Albanese Organization has developed three of the greenest residences in Lower Manhattan. All were designed by New Haven, Conn.-based Pelli Clark Pelli Architects with interiors by Stedila Design in New York. The 293-unit Solaire, which achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, was the first green residential high-rise in the nation, and Albanese’s second Battery Park undertaking, the 253-unit Verdesian, became the first residential high-rise to be awarded LEED Platinum certification. Both projects, completed in 2003 and 2006, respectively, are rental communities. Now, the company is at it again with its greenest residential project, The Visionaire, a condominium building, which has also achieved LEED Platinum status.The 35-story, 251-unit Visionaire is currently 52 percent sold, with continued interest in the project in spite of the dismal state of the economy. Jackie Urgo, president of The Marketing Directors, the sales and marketing agent of the Visionaire, reports that approximately 30 to 40 prospects continue to visit the site each week. The Visionaire offers studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom homes. Residences range in size from 605 to 1,884 sq. ft., with prices ranging from $680,000 to $2.6 million.  Urgo notes that residents are willing to pay 10 to 15 percent more to live in a green building than a non-green building. Investing in what mattersSo how do you market a green building with a higher price tag to an eco-conscious consumer? In the case of the Visionaire, Urgo explains that the project’s advertisements feature the motto, “Invest in What Truly Matters,” appealing to prospective residents’ sense that not only are they purchasing a piece of prime real estate but they are doing so in a way that makes the most sense for their futures and that of their children. “I think people are very cognizant of the potential appreciation of those types of offerings, and it is the way of the future,” maintains Urgo. “A lot of people are moving from the Albanese rentals to the Visionaire to have a chance to own the lifestyle,” she notes. She says that these buyers feel that they are investing in their future from both a health and financial point of view.Because of the building’s green features and its location in New York’s Battery Park, Urgo asserts that the condominium is appealing largely to families, specifically to mothers with young children, who are concerned about their indoor air quality in a city known for its congestion. Within the Visionaire, a high-efficiency air filtration system cleanses the air in all residences, and a 24-hour indoor air quality monitoring system is designed to ensure optimal air filtration. In addition, low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, adhesives and sealants were used throughout the building construction and design. While the property is heavily targeted to families, Urgo notes that with the Visionaire’s extensive array of green features appeal to a broad demographic—“anybody who is eco-friendly and forward-thinking buys into the concept of being Platinum LEED.” Perhaps just as important to selling a green building for its health benefits—and its aesthetics—is the payback residents see in the form of energy savings.  In fact, the Visionaire is designed to exceed energy efficiency code requirements by 40 percent with its exterior terracotta and glass curtain wall façade, elevators with regenerative braking technology, Energy Star appliances, LED lighting, and light sensors in all common areas.In addition, the Visionaire utilizes photovoltaic panels to generate electricity, while gas-fired microturbine technology generates electricity and hot water simultaneously. Additionally, dual-flush toilets are provided in all residences, and a greywater system recycles wastewater. The response to Albanese’s Battery Park projects exemplify how important living green has become to today’s multifamily residents. Despite the recession and the higher purchase price, the Visionaire has continued to see steady traffic and interest from those who understand the benefits of living in a Platinum LEED building. Anyone skeptical about selling a luxury green residential product should understand that buyers recognize their green condo homes as investments for the future—and market these projects as such.