Mark J. Bennett

Climate Law Practice Leader, Miller Canfield, Detroit

DB: Where are you?

MB: In Phoenix, at the CoreNet Global Summit, where it’s 110 degrees.

DB: What types of professionals are there?

MB: There are more than 1,500 attendees. The group includes corporate real estate executives who represent major corporations, many from Michigan and our automotive industry. There are also brokers, financial analysts, and a whole collection of experts in design and space planning.

DB: What’s the mood, given the limited demand for commercial real estate?

MB: The overall theme is “space matters.” The commercial real estate industry has been under stress the last two years, so the presentations are focused on the innovators and survivors. Even though everyone is mobile now, physical space plays a very important role in terms of inspiring creativity and collaboration. There’s more emphasis on design and space that fosters creativity, while adding value (to a property).

DB: What trends are you seeing in green workspaces?

MB: We need better synergy between historic preservation and certification efforts like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). There was an excellent presentation on the redevelopment of a historic office building in Lansing called the Christman Building. It actually is the first property in the country to garner two platinum LEED awards. It was a great case study on reducing energy costs, boosting employee efficiency, and providing for a more enriching work environment.

DB: What other changes are you seeing?

MB: It used to be that companies were very bricks-and-mortar-driven. They would key in on a building or a project, and then approach the government about any available incentives. Now companies are going right to the government and asking them what projects are available that offer tax credits, job creation, and economic development incentives.

DB: Any updates on potential climate legislation?

MB: It’s stalled in Congress, but the states are really keying in on renewable energy programs like wind and solar.