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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Inspiration in the face of disaster - Build2Sustain- Must Read!

Well, I didn't think I'd ever find someone with as much passion as me, but James Bedell of Build2Sustain has a very important message that I thought I'd share with you.

Repost: http://www.build2sustain.com/blog/2009/11/22/inspiration-in-the-face-of-disaster.html

When times are good, it’s easy to get wrapped up in maximizing shareholder profit and taking foolish risks for short term gain. This kind of thinking, led to a variety of economic disasters, none of which need rehashing. By now we all know about the housing bubble, if not NPR's This American Life and Planet Money special The Giant Pool of Money, can definitely crystallize it for you.

But the next wave of real estate woe is upon us and it's something we here at Build2Sustain are acutely aware of-commercial real estate is on its way to a crash just as thunderous as the sub-prime crisis. From newgeography:

Lurking around the corner, literally unnoticed by the average American worried about keeping his home, is a similar crisis in commercial real estate. For over a year commercial property values have been plummeting and have not begun to recover. A drive through both major cities and suburbia tells the story. Vacant stores, empty shopping malls, cancelled mixed use developments and eerily empty car lots presage bad things to come. (From my personal blog, vacant store fronts in my neighborhood of Astoria, Queens)

The news is bad...

The FDIC has closed over 100 banks and one good estimate is that they will close around 10% of US banks, 500 to 1,000, before the crisis runs its course. The losses will dwarf the $394 billion of the RTC and may surpass a trillion dollars.

The picture painted for commercial real estate is bleak with banks in such trouble they are unable to continue liquidity in the commercial market....Robert J. Cristiano of newgeography predicts the following....

Like the suddenly quiet auto malls with the empty Pontiac, Saturn and Chrysler dealerships, lesser properties will lose their anchor grocery stores, Targets, and big box users. With the anchors gone, and traffic with it, the mom and pop small businesses cannot survive. There is no future for the marginal Class C shopping center. Tenants will flee to better locations and more affordable lease rates. Class A offices will survive. Well located and attractive Class B properties may muddle through at reduced revenues – if they can survive the refinancing maze. But, the poorly located Class C office will remain a “see-through” for years to come. Old, tired, and mostly vacant Class C office buildings line the crumbling freeways of Detroit, Cleveland, Youngstown, and countless smaller rust belt cities where excess capacity has eliminated the need for new development.

In the face of this crisis an incredible opportunity exists. We can lament the future of the strip mall, or we can endeavor to make it better. What we now know is the status quo simply won’t do. I can no longer put junk real estate on the market. The market has spoken and we have too much real estate on the market. We don’t need more we need better.

For Build2Sustain “better” mean more sustainable, healthier built environments for all businesses not just those in the Fortune 500.

But “better” has to mean more than that. “Better” has to mean a better future.

“Better” means giving American business the competitive advantage of energy efficiency. It means capitalism rising to meet the challenge of a new era, one where simple consumption can no longer be an end unto itself.

As a generation we are born into the crucible of a trying era and shall be branded by it’s fires, not since the Great Depression has an American generation entered into a more difficult economic climate. In short, we are paying down the debts of a century, not just in our literal debts, but the debt we owe the planet for our rapid consumption and the debt we owe each other for not anticipating the needs of our children. We are bearing that load-and we need all hands on deck.

For all the gloom there is good news. We are ready.

We are the best-equipped generation in the history of mankind to deal with these systemic issues. We can, we must, and we will solve the crises that face us. Build2Sustain is going to do its part, by renovating commercial real estate to make for a more sustainable planet, and a more competitive business market. Not only are we going to do that for our clients, we are going to show the rest of the industry how to do it to maximize ROI and develop the business case for a green revolution. We believe it’s time to unite the global warming skeptics and the green hawks around what they share in common, not divide them for what they don’t. This country has big problems to solve and we need serious people to solve them. We had an election all about change, and the “change” candidate won. Now is not the time to sit on our hands and hope that things get better because of the new face in the White House. Now is the time to MAKE things better, for us and for our kids. We can do this. The question is how will YOU get involved.

There are those who believe such thinking is naïve. That there good intentions and good business don’t mix, that our values must be sacrificed to the gods of business. Well that wasn’t true for the founders of Johnson and Johnson who mounted their credo to every one of their buildings (spoiler: their credo isn't about maximizing profits)

It wasn’t true to Henry Ford who valued his workers so he fought to double their normal wages of the day for comparable labor, because he had a vision of affordable mobility for all Americans. What the cynics forget is that the strongest businesses of the 20th century were born during the great depression. They rose in the face of a populace that needed them to succeed, a nation that needed to be thrust full speed into the next great era in history. We stand at a similar starting line and this is a marathon, a marathon to be run at a sprinter’s pace.

America is still the greatest engine for innovation and creation the world has ever known, and within us lies a tradition of overcoming adversity with the power of hard work and dedication. Make no mistake America will overcome this time of trouble, but such a victory isn’t to be won easily. It is to be fought for in the battlefields of our labs, our boardrooms, our offices, our classrooms, our blogs, and our facebook statuses. The tools at our disposal are invaluable, it’s time to use them. When looking for the words to sum up where I’m coming from, I looked at quotes from the past, from past leaders, artists, or thinkers. But in the end I think the words of Gary Vaynerchuk say it best.

Now it's no excuses. Put down the Nintendo Wii paddle, stop watching 'Lost,' it's time to build a brand.

Souce: Inspiration in the face of disaster:


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