Sustainability practices have been positively correlated with enhanced purpose alignment, employee motivation, increased shareholder value, and higher competitiveness in the marketplace. The importance of issues falling under the umbrella of sustainability and green building strategies (e.g. energy efficiency, climate change resilience, and workplace health, safety, and productivity) continues to grow, and the real estate sector will undoubtedly be the focus of scrutiny from investors as well as national and regional regulators when it comes to greater transparency in these areas. According to a study by the NRDC, carbon emissions need to be cut by 80% by 2050, and U.S. buildings are responsible for 40% of these carbon emissions. Tenants are responsible for 30-60% of energy use in office buildings – in addition to improving the efficiency of a building’s equipment and operations, engaging the tenants to be educated on and offered simple and low-cost behavior strategies and resources can help them to go about their daily work routines in a more efficient and sustainable way.
A greater push for increased transparency and performance disclosure will influence additional buildings to retrofit their underperforming properties toward higher standards of efficiency and sustainability. One of the main drivers for green building retrofits are the business benefits, as studies have proven that ENERGY STAR and LEED certified buildings are outperforming in the market. The decision to green a building is made in the context of larger asset management issues such as optimal building positioning, available lease terms and concessions, intended hold period, and the highest and best use of a structure.
Greening an asset is not an additive concept but an integral one. Implementing green building strategies and processes may seem a daunting task if starting from ground zero, so here are four questions to get you started on what commercial building owners should ask their engineers, consultants, utilities, and other providers: a) How do we use energy, and how does it relate to how my building works? b) Can we avoid or combine large capital expenditures with energy efficiency improvements? c) Did the building implement load reduction projects and no cost bet management practices in building operations already? d) I want to cut my energy use at least 30% - how can I achieve that?