• Incorporating nature into building construction plans could save space.
  • There is a big trend toward environment-conscious living or sustainability.
  • Millennials could be more drawn into buying real estate if it had elements of sustainability or green living.

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It’s a forest. It’s a building. It’s — both? That’s how I reacted when I first saw a picture of Bosco Verticale, or “vertical forest.” These luxury skyscraper apartments aren’t fiction — they’re being built right now and will house over 700 trees and 90 species of plants — enough greenery to cover two acres of land.

Designer and architect Stefano Boeri said Bosco Verticale is: “A perfect blend and harmony of people and trees. This is the first time in the world that high buildings enriched urban flora and fauna as it usually happens the opposite. I am very happy for Milan and the Italian culture.”

Wherever space is limited, greenery is often the first thing to go — but this is a shortsighted strategy. Integrating nature into urban settings actually “encourages learning, inquisitiveness and alertness” according to a study done at the University of Washington.

Growing up with a driveway for a lawn or a street instead of a park could be detrimental to children’s psychological, emotional and intellectual development, according to a a scholarly article by Susan Strife and Liam Downey published in Organization and Environment. Being surrounded by too much concrete also discourages interaction between adults.

Some people have gotten so tired of cramped city life that they’ve gone off the grid, as the tiny house trend, solar panels and propane water heaters illustrate. But what about those who love the city and have a good job, yet can’t afford to live in a studio apartment?

It’s a sign that a city needs a space solution — perhaps a vertical one — that works for people who are being priced out of rent and property ownership.

Apartments, condos or office space with an environmentally friendly bent could solve space issues and also draw the attention of millennials, who are known for being green and are also struggling to attain financial security.

The real estate industry has been eyeing millennials for some time, anticipating that flocks of them will migrate out of studio apartments or their parents’ basements to buy homes.

Although there’s a lot of green development going on, a strikingly modern vertical forest of condos or offices that emphasizes its greenness could be a valuable hook to attract this generation into buying real estate.

Businesses could benefit from buying these spaces and luring fresh new talent that shows millennials they’re putting their money where their mouths are — or their environmental values where their desks are, as it were.

And it’s not just millennials who value sustainability. Three out of four respondents to a 2015 Neilsen survey said sustainability influences their spending habits and what company they want to work for.

To answer this desire, city developers and homebuilders could consider adding elements of Bosco Verticale into future building plans — differentiating themselves from the standard LEED certification standards.

Agents can then differentiate themselves by marketing green-minded properties. And appraisers should educate themselves, if they haven’t already, on how to price buildings with advanced green features.

A building like Bosco Verticale poses many possibilities, challenges and benefits to the real estate industry. Professionals should keep their eyes open for new concepts, or they could miss out on a trend that will impact how future homebuyers think about, assess and shop for homes.

Could a vertical forest take root in your city?

Emily Hoffman is the blogging and social media manager for ATS Secured. Follow her on Twitter or connect with her LinkedIn.

Email Emily Hoffman.