Mixed-use development is a wide-ranging concept that has become a great opportunity to leverage multiple practices and drive an increased ROI. For developers, they are also a challenge, given the various regulatory frames, market targets and sustainability needs. How then, can you get the best value from mixed-use?
It goes without saying that in the case of California, a big part of the answer lies on incorporating energy planning as part of the equation.
This is the final installment of our blog series on optimizing development projects in California. Here we will provide some insights on how mixed-use projects add value through a careful, thorough energy planning. If you are just joining us now, the other posts can be of use as well.
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Mixed-use developments: a powerful trend to be aware of
A positive combination of market demand and the easing of zoning regulations has had the powerful effect of making mixed-use a massive trend. For many years, many local government had kept residential and other uses separated, mainly because of antiquated ideas of residential and commercial spaces. In addition to this, energy and sustainability was less of a concern, as we’re sure you can remember.
Today, the situation is different. We want to save energy, to reduce urban sprawl and to increasingly “go local”. Therefore, local governments have opened to projects that get markets and services close to us, minimize travel distances and increase leisure.
But, how can a developer get the most value out of mixed-use projects?
Getting the best value with energy planning
Mixed-use produces mixed value. That is, although you can calculate a flat rate of return, every type of usage is different to the other. So, a project that mixes residential and office use will not get the same return as one that focuses on either, and developers must understand the extent of the differences.
At the same time, mixed-use projects can combine and utilize common features to reduce costs. The associated focus in energy efficiency helps a lot in California.
First, you must develop a strong vision. What will be the anchor of the commercial area? What market segment are you trying to reach? Have you studied local government plans and vision? How does your project fit within the region’s development plans? A tip here is that your project must be a whole proposal and every intended use must be completely approved.
Second, you have to design with flexibility in mind, mainly because commercial space might need to be remodeled in a few years, not so the residential component. The less energy systems need to be changed, the better you can manage any replacement, and the less the cost to do it in the future.
Third, understand all California codes and energy regulations. If you are not a specialist in that field, find a consultant that speaks your architectural and design language, understands societal trends and needs, and is able to suggest efficient solutions for mixed-purposes. Remember that validation, both by experts and regulators, is critical for a project to succeed.
Fourth, think of the non-residential space with the same level of detail and sophistication used for the residential one and plan for it from the pre-design stage. High value commercial clients will be drawn by the fact that their energy systems are as good as residential ones. Besides, energy management will be homogeneous, and operation will run flawlessly.
Finally, embrace competitive, high-performance design for the whole project. This raises the value of the property because all prospective buyers and tenants will feel that each usage perfectly fits their needs. They will also understand that they are part of a high-end experience, regardless of whether they buy or rent.
Energy planning is a must in California, and going above and beyond in this sector is a great opportunity to your ROI in mixed-use projects. Keep in mind that the vision of a mixed-use project must be designed with several added components, and you’re on your way to a successful close-out.