Date of Award

12-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Planning, Design, and the Built Environment

Advisor

Worzala, Elaine

Committee Member

Baldwin , Elizabeth

Committee Member

Ellis , Cliff

Committee Member

Klotz , Leidy

Abstract

Sustainable real estate is a growing sector within the commercial real estate industry, yet there is still a lack of consistency among the multitude of sustainability performance measurements and reporting requirements around the world. As a result of this confusion, stakeholders have developed different strategies and requirements for sustainability, which in turn makes it difficult to communicate with other stakeholders about sustainability in real estate. Without the ability to communicate with other stakeholders about sustainability efforts, comparison of sustainable real estate becomes a challenge, thus impeding progress towards a competitive sustainable real estate market.
This study presents the results of a Delphi study that was completed in the United States in 2011-12. A modified Delphi Method was used to investigate the nature of performance measurements and reporting requirements used in the sustainable real estate market, as well as their impact on the related decision-making process used by each of the major stakeholders in the real estate process. For the purpose of this study, the real estate stakeholders include: public and private real estate investors, corporate users, tenants and developers in the United States. The first round of the Delphi was conducted as in-depth interviews with fourteen expert panelists that represent each of the stakeholder groups to gain a deeper insight into the sustainability thought processes and decision-making strategies that have been used by these experts. Interviews were then transcribed and coded using MaxQDA software. The second round consisted of follow-up conversations, either by phone or email, related to specific topics that had emerged during the first round of interviews. During this round Delphi panelists were also given the opportunity to vet the information from the first round of interviews. Experts were able to make additional comments to clarify statements that they perceived had come from their own first interviews and comments on topics that emerged in other interviews but had not initially been discussed in their interview. The third round of the Delphi process utilized an e-questionnaire to clarify the findings and highlight the areas in which the U.S. real estate industry has begun to align on sustainability issues, as well as those areas of disconnect which still make comparison of sustainable real estate a challenge, in an effort to improve communication among stakeholders - and ultimately competition in the sustainable real estate market.
Building on the four generations of sustainability presented by Simons, Slob and Holswilder (2001), results from this research suggest that the U.S. real estate market has turned a corner with respect to sustainability in real estate and has entered a new, post-recession generation of sustainability. However, there are still areas of miscommunication among the stakeholders, and inconsistency with regard to specific performance measurements being used to track and report sustainability efforts.

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