Understanding Your Tenant’s Sustainability Needs (and how you can help!) by Stephen Bushnell
As a building owner your reasons for going green are pretty obvious; reducing expenses and improving ROI, increasing the value of your property, ensuring that your building is competitive, managing your environmental foot print and making the property more attractive to tenants. But, have you take the time to understand why your tenants want to be in a green building and how you can help them realize their green objectives?
Controlling the costs of energy and water are two important issues for any business. Tenants pay as much attention to this aspect of green and sustainability as do building owners. There are a variety of ways that owners and tenants share energy and water costs, many of which are spelled out in the lease or, especially for residential buildings, determined by how the building is metered. No matter how the costs are allocated both owner and tenant(s) have a vested financial interest in reducing overall energy and water use.
Another green practice with bottom line impacts is waste management. Recycling and reducing waste bound for landfills are key goals of many tenants. Building owners can help by making the building recycling friendly with convenient areas for recycling inside and outside the building. However, remember that many recyclables are flammable. Exterior storage and pick up sites should be away from the building so any accidental fires will be confined to the container.
A growing number of cities require or incent restaurants to compost their food waste. Building owners with restaurant tenants should consider adding pest resistant compost facilities for food waste.
A fundamental element of LEED is the reduction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the interior of the building. Combined with occupant friendly ventilation, reduced VOCs can result in a healthier indoor environment. Green buildings can result in improved employee health and wellbeing and reduced absenteeism. “Daylighting” is another hallmark of green buildings. Design of the interior space, wall placement, windows and full – spectrum lighting systems create more efficient and comfortable environments like AGPOM Member Douglas Emmett’s lobby pictured here.
These features can result in one of the most significant benefits for tenants, improved employee productivity. People working in green buildings are healthier, happier, and more productive. In a recent DOE study, it was shown that worker productivity in a green building increased by 15%. In another study by The Rocky Mountain Institute, air quality improvements fostered increased productivity of up to 20% and reduced absenteeism by up to 25%.
Improved health is important for your residential tenants as well. Who wants to live in a poorly ventilated box full of a toxic stew when there are alternatives? Our own experience backed by several studies reveals that parents are motivated by issues impacting the health of their children.
Finally, many commercial and residential tenants have a strong desire to make the world a greener place. Whether driven by personal values or corporate sustainability programs, tenants take a very big step to realize this goal by leasing green space. Supporting your tenants as they green their space is a win for both of you. Taking a little time to understand their plans and how you can support them goes a long way to realizing your green and sustainable goals.