Category Archives: Environment

Atlanta Secures #4 Spot for Green Building 

Atlanta is moving up, and now ranks fourth in the 2015 Green Building Adoption Index, an initiative to quantify and understand green building in the top 30 US markets [1]. The US uses the Energy Star ranking and LEED certification to identify sustainable building in commercial real estate.  Of Atlanta’s office space, 57.9 percent is considered “green” where the national average is only 38.7 percent. 

Both inside and out, green buildings positively impact the environment by using resources such as water and energy more efficiently and thereby reducing waste and pollution. Developers also incorporate sustainable building materials with minimal product emissions, which protect workers’ health and ultimately improves employee productivity. Additionally, landscaping and native plant selection for outdoor spaces help reduce water usage and increase greenspace in urban areas. 

This increase in green building is applauded for its obvious environmental benefits, however its economic impact is also becoming more widely realized.  Initially, green building was assumed to be more costly and time consuming. However, with the right research, evaluation and planning, many green products and materials cost the same or less than conventional ones. Energy efficient design can often result in the use of smaller HVAC equipment which provides additional savings. What’s more, there are federal tax credits for specific energy efficient building and states are establishing tax benefits as well. 

Read our other recent blog posts for more information on environmental initiatives in commercial real estate including brownfield redevelopment and green cleaning



Brownfield Redevelopment Benefits in Georgia

Brownfields are property with a determined contaminate, hazardous material or pollutant which makes it difficult to be redeveloped for public or private use. A brownfield in a successful business or residential community has the obvious attraction of location but liability and cleanup costs most often deter potential developers from pursuing such properties.  

By limiting liability to a new owner, as well as providing tax incentives, Federal and state programs now make the cleanup task more appealing, which produces both environmental and economic benefits. The Georgia Brownfield program removes the future environmental liability from a new owner/developer and provides tax incentives to help recover costs for the investigation and the cleanup by “freezing” the assessed value of the property for up to ten years[1] or until costs have been recovered. So as the property value increases, the owner benefits in tax savings. 

Turning an unused property into a thriving business helps the economic vitality of the community as well. For example, in 2012, McWhirter Realty Partners purchased an abandoned convenient store in Athens, Georgia, that had been vacant for ten years due to a tremendous amount of contamination. The location, within the 5-Points neighborhood of Athens and less than a half-mile from the University of Georgia campus, was redeveloped following a plan successfully approved by Athens-Clarke County and the State’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD). Today, the site is home to Grindhouse Killer Burgers. 

Another example of a successful brownfield project is the former City of Norcross landfill. In the 1970’s the City of Norcross closed its landfill located on Reps Miller Road in the heart of Peachtree Corners. A partnership, led by McWhirter Realty Partners, acquired the 9 acre property for a future industrial development. After holding the land for many years, the company turned its focus to redeveloping the property for residential. With cooperation from the State EDP and geotechnical and environmental consultants, McWhirter Realty Partners removed all of the landfill and successfully rezoned the property for 90 townhome units. Greenwood Townhomes continues to thrive on the property today.  

What’s more, an EPA study found that residential property values increased by up to 12 percent within a one-mile radius of a brownfield assessment or cleanup[2]. And removing abandoned property can also reduce the prevalence of crime, loitering and vandalism. 

For more information on brownfield redevelopment in Georgia visit the EPD of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. 

[1] Georgia Brownfields Program


Green Cleaning Programs in Commercial Properties

“Environmentally friendly” and “green programs” are promoted in our homes and our businesses and commercial property management is not exempt. Property managers and owners alike are making environmentally conscious decisions through water conservation, onsite recycling and energy efficient building systems. Yet, more than any other practice, green cleaning is growing to the top of the list of priorities. 

An effective green cleaning program can: 

  • Reduce health hazards: An obvious benefit to using green cleaning products is that it reduces the use of chemicals found in industrial cleaning supplies that can be dangerous if they come in contact with the skin or are inhaled. However there are less obvious tactics such as using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. A HEPA vacuum will capture more than 99%[i] of microscopic air contaminants leaving a room cleaner and significantly eliminating allergens. 
  • Protect the environment: Switching to green cleaning products will reduce air pollution, water pollution and the use of nonrenewable natural resources. Using chlorine free paper products or ones made from post-consumer recycled fibers will save trees as well as decrease water and energy waste. 
  • Save money: The availability of green cleaning products and services is growing making them comparable in cost to conventional ones. However, investing in green practices also reduces the impact on human health which results in fewer sick days, injuries and potential worker’s compensation claims and directly benefits a company’s bottom line.

[i] Building Operating Management, March 2015

Adaptive Reuse Preserves Environment and Atlanta’s History

Regardless of whether you live in the city or suburbs, there is a certain sense of pride residents have for their neighborhood and surrounding area. Throughout Atlanta, communities work tirelessly to maintain greenspace, reduce pollution and keep the historical charm of the city they call home.

Adaptive reuse is a growing trend that positively impacts the community in many ways by preserving historical buildings. Developers seek buildings that no longer serve their original intended use and renovate for a new business or residential purpose. Neighborhood residents applaud these efforts, as this method aims to preserve the architectural charm and creates an economical boost to the community. Inman Park’s Krog Street Market exemplifies adaptive reuse. This renovated 1920’s warehouse is now ranked by Fodor as one of the “Ten Best Food Halls in the US.”

Adapting an existing building to serve a new purpose helps the environment too. Construction and demolition materials account for nearly 50 percent of landfill waste according to the EPA. Converting an old building uses less construction materials, reduces waste and allows for the implementation of new greener technologies.

McWhirter Realty Partners is well-informed of laws regarding sustainable development in the metro Atlanta area and properties available for adaptive reuse. Contact us today or visit our listing page for more information on our current opportunities.

McWhirter Realty Partners focuses on brokerage, property management and development services with expertise in industrial, self-storage, office, retail, medical and land sales throughout the United States. The company consistently ranks as a Top Ten Producer as recognized by the Atlanta Commercial Board of REALTORS. McWhirter Realty Partners is located at 300 Galleria Parkway, Suite 300, Atlanta, Georgia 30339.