Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is the type of company that isn't afraid to try new things. In recent years, it's expanded into the supermarket and pharmacy space, and it will no doubt continue to explore new territory.
Amazon also likes being a company that innovates -- and that extends to its latest office complex that's currently under construction. In fact, the online retail giant is investing in a spiraling rooftop forest for its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.
The question is: Will other companies follow its lead and incorporate more greenery into their designs?
A sustainable approach in commercial real estate
Amazon's new headquarters is centered on sustainability -- a trend that's been gaining traction in the commercial real estate space. Every building in its new office complex will have all-electric central heating and cooling, sourced from a nearby solar farm. Meanwhile, the 2.5-acre campus will feature publicly accessible spaces and landscaping. An amphitheater will host live events and farmers markets. And bike storage facilities will be plentiful in an effort to encourage workers not to drive.
But perhaps the most unique aspect of Amazon's new setup is its 350-foot helix-shaped tree forest -- a feature inspired by DNA and designed to keep workers constantly interacting with nature. While that greenery may serve as a distraction for workers initially, in time, they're apt to appreciate its aesthetic appeal.
Amazon may not be alone in moving toward a more sustainable workplace. These days, there's a general push toward eco-friendliness that companies are likely to embrace for the sake of their reputations. But most probably won't go so far as to construct a spiral tree forest.
A positive sign for real estate investors
The fact that Amazon is sinking money and resources into its new headquarters is also a good sign for real estate investors. In an age when many companies are abandoning their headquarters and making plans to ditch office space altogether, it's encouraging to see Amazon placing value on having a central location for workers to congregate and collaborate.
In fact, Amazon's move could inspire other companies to come back to offices and pursue their own campus plans -- and that could make investors with vacant buildings and unused land a lot wealthier. It also could help solve the big near-term problem of office building vacancies -- a situation some say won't get better for years.
The Millionacres bottom line
The fact that Amazon is pushing for sustainability should also inspire investors to consider upping their own game in that regard. Commercial property owners should look at ways to outfit their buildings with eco-friendly features and consider investing in greenery. They should also consider adding community-friendly features, like courtyards with seating for public use -- though to be fair, Amazon may be playing up the public access angle in its new headquarters in an effort to appease those who don't want it popping up in the neighborhood. Many companies won't experience the same level of backlash if they pursue plans to construct new office space -- especially with a environmentally conscious approach.