A strong collective consciousness is becoming widespread in regards to self-awareness, sustainability, and environmental responsibility. Things that were once labeled as ‘hippie’ such as eating organic foods, using all natural personal products, buying biodegradable goods, and practicing yoga and meditation are becoming mainstream across the U.S.
According to a global Green Industry analysis, 55% of consumers across 60 countries are willing to pay higher prices for goods from environmentally conscious companies. Organic food sales jumped 11% in 2014, while overall food sales grew only 3%. Yoga and meditation practices have also been increasingly embraced by CEO’s, Senior Executives, commercial office buildings, and even Ontario Canada’s police force because these practices sharpen leadership skills, attention, memory, and emotional intelligence.
In commercial real estate (CRE), as a response to the earth’s changing climate and its effects on the environment, the industry is revolutionizing office design and architecture. CRE Tech and Sustainable work-spaces are on the rise and various studies have shown the positive impact of green buildings on our cognitive function.
CRE Tech in Practice
Dogfish Head Brewery demanded an office space that matched their “off centered” and progressive culture. Their office located in Milton, Delaware is efficient in every sense thanks to cre tech: use of material, lighting, water, and energy. Beyond the dynamic green fixtures, the company furniture was also composed of salvaged materials.
Property teams are beginning to react to these trends by adding more amenities to their building that are focused on tenant wellness. For example, Intersect in Irvine is currently enhancing their amenities selection in order to enhance the mental well-being of their tenants with free, onsite yoga classes at lunch time. Studies have shown that being close to plants elevates moods and increases productivity, so the Intersect team is also creating urban gardens for tenants to walk through when they need a break.
In an article titled, “Top 3 Lessons from USAA RealCo’s Sustainability Leadership”, Brenna Walraven, one of the most influential women in cre tech and sustainability, stresses the significance of sustainability strategy for property teams and commercial office owners.
“Just because an organization tracks energy, water, waste data or obtains a few LED certifications doesn’t mean they have a sustainability strategy, it just means they have sustainability practices.” –Brenna Walvern
The Challenge for Property Teams
What Matters is on the Inside.
Being sustainable is not just something to dabble in; you have to be committed for the long term to see and feel the results. So how do property teams and office owners overcome the mistake of using short-term instead of long-term tactics? Simply by creating and implementing how your team would like the building to look in 5 years. Brenna cautions that if you do not allocate resources and balance it with the current financial plan, “Your aspirations to be a leader are stillborn.”
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges for property teams and owners is knowing what tactics to use that will bring fast results. From her almost 20 years of experience, Brenna notes that “One important tactic I’ve seen add immediate value is using sustainability to more deeply engage with tenants.” She highlights that when we become more efficient, it creates more than monetary value-it also allows the building to control temperature and occupant comfort which generates tenant attraction and retention.
Engage with your tenants about why they should care about the building’s sustainability efforts and what the building team is doing to make a difference. Think they don’t care? They do.
Millennials are the largest generation in history and are known to be more environmentally conscious and have a keen sense of social responsibility. By 2025, it is estimated by the U.S. Department of Labor that they will make up 75% of the workforce.
Most notably, they are shaping what environmental sustainability should look like and the market is listening and watching.
A major change that Millennials will bring to the electricity sector is their desire for flexibility, personalization, and sharing. Utility companies are infamous for inflexible, one size fits all pricing and policies and this won’t fly with Millennials. The Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy organization predicts that the consumer habits of Millennials will drive electricity companies to provide more flexibility that will lead to smarter and more efficient energy use.
Big Brother is also listening. Did you know that similarly to your building having the ability to be Energy Star rated, Congress passed a bill in 2015 that enables tenants to become Tenant Star? The challenge is that leased office spaces are not sub or separately metered, so there is no way to obtain specific energy usage per tenant which a large percentage of energy use in office buildings. Building owners are concerned that this is undoing their current efforts to maximize building efficiency.
However, there is an innovative remedy to this nationwide problem called Automated Meter Reading and Billing (AMRB) that tracks the energy costs associated with submeters for supplemental equipment. This product supports Tenant Star requirements because it allows occupants to become aware of their energy usage by providing them with a detailed invoice of where most of their energy is being consumed. This hurts the wallets of companies everywhere and will stimulate tenants to be more conscious of their behavior.
Where energy goes, focus flows. The more conscious we are of our impact on everything around us, the better opportunity we have to correct destructive behavior both to the environment and ourselves. The commercial real estate industry is definitely headed in the right direction and has the potential to be the most energy efficient industry in the world.
Interested in improving your building’s systems efficiency? Schedule a demo today to learn how Genea’s software can streamline your building’s manual processes.