New Study Shows Growth of “Sharing Economy”


As More People Share Cars, Closets and even Kitchens, Commercial Real Estate Industry Responds

WASHINGTON, D.C. – May 7, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The cultural shift towards what researchers are labeling the “sharing economy,” where people share not only cars, tools and bikes, but also kitchens and common space, has set off a wave of new building designs and features as America’s commercial real estate industry responds to the demand, according to a new white paper released today from the NAIOP Research Foundation.

The white paper can be found here .

John Madden, Director of Sustainability and Engineering Campus + Community Planning, University of British Columbia, the author of the white paper, will host a webinar “Exploring the New Sharing Economy” on June 16.  Register online for the webinar here.

“We are seeing the effects of the sharing economy across the industry, but especially in the office and multi-family sectors.  Rooftop gardens and co-working centers are just two of the more visible ways in which our industry is adapting, but there are many more.  Any developer starting a new project today simply has to factor this phenomena into their planning, because the demand for these features will continue to grow,” said Thomas J. Bisacquino, president and CEO of NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association.

Companies and organizations all over the world are exploring new ways to provide access to goods and services, often through networks of individuals connected via the Internet and mobile apps. These systems enable people to make use of excess capacity while avoiding or minimizing many of the burdens — storage, maintenance and operating costs — associated with ownership.

“Exploring the Sharing Economy,” by John Madden, director of sustainability and engineering, Campus + Community Planning at the University of British Columbia, examines the impacts this nascent economic force is having on transportation, food systems, housing and short-term accommodations, and commercial space.

“The sharing economy is characterized largely by peer-to-peer marketplaces,” Madden notes. “These marketplaces facilitate transactions in which individuals can share products and services directly, based on a foundation of trust.”

Key drivers that have helped catalyze the sharing economy, according to Madden, include the following:

  • The Internet and mobile access.
  • Declining real incomes.
  • Belief in the commons.
  • Trust.

The white paper describes how the sharing economy is affecting personal transportation, explaining how car-, bike- and ride-sharing and ride-hailing platforms like Car2Go, Zipcar, Citi Bike, Uber and others are changing how people travel within urban areas, with potentially huge impacts on land uses. It describes how other elements of the sharing economy, including community gardens and rooftop farms, shared housing and cohousing, and short-term accommodations platforms like Airbnb and Roomarama, also are beginning to have an impact on the broader economy.

Madden also describes the sharing economy’s expansion within the commercial real estate sector. “In some cases,” he notes, “the goal is to make better use of fixed assets that traditionally have been used only for certain periods of the day. The sharing economy makes better use of idle capacity by matching people with spare space. Many forms of shared commercial space use have emerged, including various types of shared office spaces and creative spaces.

“Shared office spaces include the executive suites model (where companies or individuals can rent a turnkey office or space in a shared office on a short- or long-term basis), coworking centers (which offer similar types of workspaces, typically through a membership model, and have a greater focus on community) and an emerging hybrid of the two.”

“The sharing economy has flourished in the absence of government policy drivers, incentives and regulations. It is, however, posing some challenges to local regulators, who must find a balance that protects the public interest without suppressing the potential benefits of new business models. It demonstrates that small-scale entrepreneurism and altruistic attitudes can lead to more rational uses of scarce resources while providing economic, social and environmental benefits,” the white paper concludes.

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About NAIOP: NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, is the leading organization for developers, owners and related professionals in office, industrial, retail and mixed-use real estate. NAIOP comprises 15,000 members in North America. NAIOP advances responsible commercial real estate development and advocates for effective public policy. For more information, visit

Kathryn Hamilton

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