Environmental issues are here, and we need to address them to not only keep operating costs down but to protect and preserve our environment. By no means am I a “Tree Hugger”, but the earth is warming, and severe weather impacts our lives and properties. Managers need to address environmental issues as much as collecting back rents.

Per Energy Star, 30% of commercial building energy consumption is wasted. Buildings are responsible for more than 40% of global energy used, and as much as one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions per the International Standard Organization.

So, looking past the benefits to the environment of smart management/operations, the bottom line is ‘Impact Management” puts dollars in the property owners’ pockets. So, whether you’re a
“Tree Hugger” or a Capitalist, we can reap the rewards of Impact Management ideas and actions.

Little things make a big difference. 

Simple things like making sure that water consumption is being properly monitored. Do the tenants have leaking sinks and toilets? If so, the water bills are higher and costlier to all including the public. Saving water helps with lower operations cost and diverts less water from our river, bays, and estuaries, which helps keep the environment healthy. It can also reduce water and wastewater treatment costs and the amount of energy used to treat, pump, and heat water.

The use of mulch will also lower irrigation costs by greatly reducing your need to water your plants. By breaking up clay and allowing better water and air movement through the soil. Mulch provides nutrients to sandy soil and improves its ability to hold water.

We could spend pages talking about the benefits of LED lighting. In short, LED lighting is cooler, longer lasting, and has lower energy usage which benefits the costs of HVAC system use and maintenance, building maintenance and helps lower energy costs. We encourage tenants to turn off power sources when they aren’t being used in order to cut back on costs and energy.

Keeping HVAC systems service and filters clean. Many tenants could care less about the HVAC systems until the time of failure. Many NNN leases have the tenants responsible for HVAC maintenance and replacement. However, many tenants still fail to live up to maintenance and good HVAC management causing the useful life of the equipment to decline. We suggest that filters and systems be checked by management to enforce or elongate the needs of the systems.  A well-maintained system will cost both tenant and landlord less over time and lower energy costs.

With more people working remotely – or returning to offices in socially-distanced shifts – smart sensors that detect office occupancy can make a critical difference to energy efficiency by optimizing lighting and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC). Sensors in equipment are also helping maintenance teams by triggering alerts before issues require more resources to repair. Managers can track and adjust building systems remotely, ensuring that critical aspects don’t overuse energy, but still run sufficiently to meet compliance standards.

Controlling building temperatures. Can the lobby of an office building in Florida be comfortable at 80 degrees? In our properties we try to maintain a level of control on temperature in common areas at 79 or 80 degrees. Because entries and exits are constantly opening, this higher temp will keep energy and HVAC maintenance costs down. As my parents used to say, “we do not need to cool the outside”.

The motors that run systems such as air-conditioning, fridges, fans and elevators are responsible for large amounts of wasted energy, as well as higher costs.

Energy storage is becoming a vital feature of sustainable buildings. Coupled with renewable energy generation, this not only helps stabilize electrical grids, but provides clean energy at lower costs. The possibilities for energy storage are still emerging. As electric vehicles gain traction, charging infrastructure could also be integrated into building energy systems, enabling parked vehicles to be used as battery storage. Energy storage is a huge opportunity for building owners and investors to increase overall efficiency and the shift to renewable energy, while saving money on energy costs.

Energy-efficient building design often makes use of natural light – and smart glass in the windowpanes enables greater control over daylight, heat, and glare. For instance, some internet-connected glass uses artificial intelligence to automatically tint glass for a more comfortable indoor environment while reducing reliance on lighting and air-conditioning. Smart glass is cloud-based, responding to user commands or the time of day to darken or lighten, maximizing natural light.

Green House Gas emissions cover everything from emissions from combustion equipment and stationary sources to indirect emissions from use of electricity to emissions from day-to-day operations. By benchmarking data, through activities such as collecting utility usage of properties annually, the owner or manager can get a sense of whether greenhouse gas emissions are consistent with their property type or anomalous and need to be addressed. Taking an inventory annually will also help show emission reductions year-over-year or as a comparative tool between facilities and industry competitors.

There are many building certifications such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star, U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Green Building Institute” Green Globes, Certified Sustainability Property from the institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) and National Green Building Standard from the National Association of Home Builders.

Major real estate companies, developers and investors are increasingly aligning projects with energy-efficient building standards. The International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank, predicts that green buildings will be one of the largest global investment opportunities in the coming decade. And as today’s workforce evolves, the values of younger generations are driving demand for sustainable buildings.

There is so much more that we can address in these areas by just thinking outside the box. We need to be conscious of our environment and work a little bit harder to save our clients money to build a better future for our kids and the environment.

We only have one earth, and we have a responsibility to it along with the people who own and occupy the properties we manage. Make an impact with good management principles.


For more information see the following links below: 

Read more on Sustainability on Corporate Agendas

Read more on How facility managers are dealing with empty buildings

Read more on How technology is keeping modern buildings up to form