A real estate development firm with an eye for environmental sustainability is tapping into Atlanta’s appetite for international business and green initiatives.

Josh Knoefler, president of San Diego-based Knoefler Enterprises Inc., has been spending about half his time in the Georgia capital, he told GlobalAtlanta.

That’s mainly because he’s realized the importance of expanding the international component of his business, and Atlanta provides the right arena for building necessary relationships, he said.

“We’ve identified Atlanta as a global hub,” Mr. Knoefler said.

He cited the city’s airport, thriving consular community and bi-national chambers of commerce.

Since he started this outreach, Mr. Knoefler has joined the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, the Korea-Southeast U.S. chamber, the Brazilian-American and the German-American chambers in Atlanta.

Knoefler Enterprises is a branch of a family company launched in the early 1980s by Mr. Knoefler’s father in Indiana.  It initially focused on luxury custom home building and real estate development, Mr. Knoefler said.

As the company has expanded, it has added new takes on specialized real estate development in markets across the U.S.  

A civil engineer by training, Mr. Knoefler has worked on rebuilding projects in Brazil and helped manage the building of a power plant in Croatia.

When he returned to the U.S., he decided to focus on sustainable development. 

California’s governmental structures for environmental issues are “light years ahead” of the U.S. in general and other states, he said.

Mr. Knoefler has led the charge to build a “Green Village,” a fully carbon-neutral mixed-use facility in San Diego, which is on hold due to the downturn in the real estate market.

The eight-acre development would have 1,100 housing units as well as retail and commercial facilities.  It would also have technology to recycle water and use alternative energy sources for power.

Mr. Knoefler said he’s targeted specific international communities in Georgia because of their countries’ experience with various renewable energy sources—Germans for wind, Japanese for solar and Brazilians for biofuels.

The presence of these communities in Georgia, the state’s drought and the growing demand for energy associated with economic development have brought sustainability to the forefront in Atlanta, he said.

“Georgia is going to be faced with the same energy problems that exist in California over the next several years,” he said, another reason Mr. Knoefler wants to be present here.

As with many developers in Atlanta, a city he calls “overbuilt” with office buildings, Mr. Knoefler has a vacant 10,000-square-foot office space in Stockbridge he’s looking to fill. 

He’d like to lease it to an international company, possibly a freight forwarder because of its proximity to Interstate 75 and close access to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

For more information, visit www.knoeflerenterprises.com

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...