10 Tips to Reduce Environmental Impacts in Commercial Buildings

In today's day and age commercial complexes and buildings are one of the main reasons for carbon emission and energy wastage. It is upon the property and real estate industry to ensure that their tenants comply with energy saving policies to reduce environmental impacts in the buildings they rent commercially.

As developers, designers and owners look for solutions to minimize the operating costs and environmental impacts of structures while increasing their functionality and sale-ability, the concept of green trends is becoming more apparent.

Owners and occupiers do not have adequate time or resources for energy savings activities especially in this complicated economic environment where sustenance is important. So here are some tips that can help in reducing environmental impacts in buildings used for commercial purposes.

Setting up a green committee

1. The best way to ensure collaboration is working jointly towards the cause. So set up a committee with representatives comprising of owners and tenants.

2. Joint efforts will ensure that processes and systems are followed across all platforms and both parties take equal responsibility.

3. Regular information sharing, review of performance, periodic assessment of energy saving policies and improvement of initiatives will help curb environmental impacts that are a problem with commercial buildings.

Leasing with a green thumb

It is a good idea to make a lease agreement that also includes terms of energy saving and environmental friendly usage of resources. This will help set expectations right and manage the aspirations how the owner wishes the occupier to maintain the space and also how the occupier wishes to plan and manage the building according to the requirement.

Signing a Green MoU

1. Owners and tenants can enter a flexible agreement, Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), at any point of time during the lease period.

2. The MoU entails details of what environmental goals both entities would like to accomplish. The agreement takes into account facility managers, engineers, designers along with the owners.

3. The document includes terms wherein the owners have to carry out periodic energy audits, agree on the start up and shut down times of air conditioning system, waste disposal strategy etc.

4. Tenants should also educated employees and encourage flexi timing. This will help them avoid getting stuck during rush hour and as a result reduce the usage of gas.

Performance management

1. A performance management system to ensure that steps to build environmental commercial buildings are followed will be of great help.

2. One of the benefits of having a review system is that it will help measure the impact and output of current processes to understand how best to improve these.

3. The performance management system should be based on a set of parameters that can be used as a yardstick to improve objectives and targets.

Cost reduction initiatives

One of the many advantages of employing environmental friendly techniques is saving energy costs. Contrary to the popular misconception that energy saving system involves investment it actually helps save cost up to 20%. Recalibration of energy system, setting up start and shut down time for equipment, temperature setting during summer and winter are some of the ways to reduce cost.


Auto meter mode

Auto metering is an effective measure to reduce energy consumption and environmental effects in commercial buildings. The technology helps automatically gather consumption and diagnostic data. AMR systems give consumption reading every half-hour which allow for an in-depth review of energy consumption in various parts of the building. Based on these readings the green committee can help decide corrective measures to be taken towards setting up environmental commercial buildings.


Auditing

Measuring data is one half of the green initiative but the other half is to regularly analyse and identify the most effective systems and initiatives. The owner should carry out green auditing once or twice a year and discuss the findings with the green committee and other occupiers. Recommendations by the green committee members should then be examined and implemented if deemed sustainable.


Green sales pitch

A green start to owner and occupier agreement can add to the efforts towards building environmental commercial buildings. Sales agents, brokers and managing agents often act as the liaising agent between the owners and the tenants. Disseminating information about the green initiatives undertaken by the commercial building authority through these agents is both easy and effective. They play a key role in help improve the environmental performance if the green objectives are set right from the beginning.


Retrofitting

Addition of new technology or features to older systems to help improve their efficiency can prove to be a positive step towards reducing the environmental impacts in commercial buildings. Retrofitting however should involve the consent of both the parties to ensure that it is carried out in the right away that will help yield the best results.


Looking ahead

Positive results and achievements should be highlighted and communicated to all the green committee members and tenants to set an example. This will also motivate the owner and occupiers to continue with these initiatives and build on their achievements.

© 2013 Juana Aman

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