Development and Construction
Hidden Natural Capital Development
Land development and construction is a business of big capital spending and risk. Maximizing return on investment (ROI) is top priority for developers and their investors, and it should be because potential profits can be chipped away during every step in the process. At Joule Tree we have a deep understanding of development and the process because we are developers ourselves. We also work on a consulting, investor and partnership basis. We understand the risks and rewards and have the experience and know-how to assemble the team best suited to maximize ROI for each project.
A project’s environmental conditions like streams, wetlands and protected vegetation and species are viewed by most engineering and land development consultants as liabilities to overcome. Turning what some consider liabilities into assets comes from fully understanding all the natural capital associated with a project, and then applying experience, ingenuity and vision. This is Hidden Natural Capital Development. Leveraging it can yield unexpected returns in both development and operations – both to people and the environment.
Obtaining a clear understanding of the vision, goals and objectives for the project is the first step. Identifying natural capital within that vision, and how natural capital can enhance the goals and objectives are part of that process. When preliminary research and due diligence begins, available natural capital can additionally be considered in the determination of what is feasible politically and financially with a project and/or site.
It works best when natural capital identification is a part of the Due Diligence and Feasibility Study before any ground is purchased. Finding hidden natural capital on a site can make the outlook of issues around rezoning, access, floodplain, environment, permits and impact fees look completely different. Revealing hidden natural capital also has the potential for sites that were previously overlooked to be considered.
For example, the development of a new parcel of land may require mitigation to offset impacts because of construction. Scaling appropriate mitigation is cost-effectively accomplished by utilizing the quantification of ecosystem services being provided by the natural capital on site.
Another example is the opportunity to use green infrastructure instead of gray infrastructure for storm water control*. When feasible, green infrastructure has the added benefits of pollutant filtration, providing ecosystem habitat and can cost less to build than gray infrastructure.
Proactively integrating natural capital into your project has benefits beyond value creation and cost savings. The public image of companies embracing natural capital solutions is greater, leading to a more positive social license to operate. Any necessary entitlement processes, site design, and permitting issues are met with less resistance from the regulators when an effective natural capital strategy is adopted. The entitlement process might include annexation, an Environmental Impact Report, general plan amendment, rezoning, planned development permit, conditional use permit, variance or development agreement.
A natural capital approach can also maximize future rights and flexibility, reduce approval and litigation risk, and minimize development constraints. This can result in faster approvals, less risk of denial, higher development densities, larger developable areas, longer vesting of development rights, and lower legal and construction costs.