Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Sustainability Policy For Green Real Estate Management

With continuing changes to regulations governing energy use and sustainability in buildings, both owners and occupiers should expect increasing focus on green real estate management, but how do you know if your property is being managed with green, sustainable considerations in mind?

There are two factors to consider, firstly does the property management company have an up to date and relevant Sustainability Policy and have they developed an individual Sustainability Policy for your building?

A Sustainability Policy is a written statement that outlines the company's objectives and commitments towards targets and performance improvements in the area of sustainability.

It is important because unless a company knows what it wants to achieve and has an idea of how that will happen, it is unlikely to be able to make improvements.

There are a number of elements to a Sustainability Policy, including:

  • General sustainability aims and objectives

  • An agreement that the policy is actively supported by management and will by implemented by staff

  • A way of communicating sustainability targets and objectives to employees, customers and suppliers.

Ultimately the Sustainability Policy should become a central part of the business strategy.

A Sustainability Policy specific to each building is also important because every property will be different and will have different challenges and opportunities. It is unrealistic to expect a one size fits all policy to be appropriate although this does not mean it is necessary to reinvent a policy for each property. Instead your property manager should look at what elements are common across all properties and what specific items can be adopted and configured to suit specific properties.

One target for a property may be to work towards a carbon neutral building but for some properties this may not be achievable, or not at a sensible cost, which will be particularly likely for older buildings. Where this is not possible an alternative is to assess the current carbon footprint attributable to a property and set targets to reduce this.

Other things to consider include are the environmental impact of the day to day running of a property and in particular energy efficiency (how can changes be made to improve energy efficiency) and the types of energy that is used.

There are a number of reasons why developing Sustainability Policies makes sense both for good business and good property management reasons but as legal requirements increase these will become even more important. One final benefit should be as a marketing tool for empty properties. Use your Sustainability Policies to set your property apart from other less environmentally focused properties, particularly when marketing to green aware tenants and it starts to make real business sense.

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