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The Push Towards Green Buildings

Making Your Commercial Property More Sustainable

As people return to the office after working from home during the pandemic, property managers have the big task of ensuring building occupants are satisfied in their space. One way is through the push for greener buildings. Even before the pandemic, tenants were demanding more sustainable, safer, and healthier buildings for their employees, but as people begin to return to work, this push has only grown stronger as more people return to office spaces full time.

The Business Case for Green Buildings,” a 2013 report by the World Green Building Council, looks at all the benefits of “greenifying” a building. This 122-page report lays out in great detail why and how a property manager should approach green buildings, including added value for occupants and investors, lower refurbishment costs, and compliance with CSR requirements, among many others.

If you’re a property manager, now is a great time to consider investing in green initiatives to make your property better for tenants, better for investors, and better for your bottom line.

What does a Green Building Look Like?

According to the New Zealand Green Building Council, the definition of a green, or sustainable, building is “one that is designed, built, and operated in ways that reduce or remove any negative impact on the environment and the people using it.” It can mean everything from small incremental green initiatives to fully retrofitting or building a property from the ground up to ensure the highest standards of sustainability.

No matter which category you fall under, some areas that your occupants may be especially concerned with include:

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is normally the first thing companies think of when considering sustainable buildings. This is because energy-efficient buildings are not only great for the environment but can save you and the tenant money, through reduced electricity bills and operating costs.

Simple things like energy-efficiency appliances and motion-activated lights can help, but the real benefits come from double-glazed windows and an energy-efficient heating/cooling system throughout the building.

Renewable Energy

Along the lines of energy efficiency, building occupiers are looking for property management companies that have options available for renewable energy. Global property giants, like JLL, are offering renewable energy solutions as an added incentive for building occupiers.

This might include on-site energy sources such as solar on the rooftops or a microgrid, or off-site energy sources such as access to utility companies that only use renewable energy, a community solar or wind farm, or Renewable Energy Certificates.

Waste Management

Many global companies, including Microsoft and Unilever, are setting waste diversion goals as part of their ongoing sustainability pledges. These efforts have an industry-wide ripple effect and encourage other companies to follow suit. Because of this, current and potential occupiers want to know that there are solutions in place to mitigate landfill waste as much as possible.

For property managers, this means seeking out and establishing a good relationship with waste providers in the area known for their commitment to waste diversion. Tenants may want multiple streams, including several types of recycling, organic waste disposal, and even specialty recycling like e-waste or furniture occasionally. By having those options available, you’ll make your property much more appealing to sustainably-minded businesses who want to drive efficiencies and reduce costs.

BINS 7487 Having a wide range of waste streams can increase landfill diversion.

Sustainable Materials

A core element of any green building is the consideration of the materials used in that space. If working to retrofit or renovate a building, ensure that the materials are sustainably-sourced and have strong lifespans. Using recycled, reclaimed, and natural products, as well as ensuring all materials are non-toxic, will help boost environmental sustainability and wellness.

Architecture firms such as Foster + Partners are leading the way in sustainable building design, utilising carbon-neutral materials and putting pressure on manufacturers to become more sustainable.

Health and Wellness

Green buildings are known to be healthier places for occupants because they consider not just the environmental aspects of sustainability, but the human aspects as well. While some of the improvements made above feed into better health (i.e. better air quality from energy-efficient heating systems and non-toxic materials), it also encompasses other aspects as well. This includes plenty of natural light, green spaces and indoor plants, noise-reduction design, and additional considerations such as end-of-trip facilities for walkers and bike commuters and on-site gyms.

As people return to the office, many are concerned about office conditions after being in a controlled home environment for so long. But green buildings can boost the productivity and well-being of occupants, which is a great incentive for employees.

Tenants are pushing, but it’s on property managers to make the change.

While tenants are often the ones calling for these changes, it’s on the property owners and facility managers to implement the changes. There are many benefits for property managers to invest in sustainable buildings including happier and healthier tenants, decreased operating costs, and higher occupancy rates. It may be costly in the beginning, but over time, owning and operating a green building can save you money.

How are you working to make your property greener?

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