Aug 24, 2015

The Intersection of Productivity and Sustainability

By Don Catalano



Your company can benefit greatly by making sustainability a core part of its commercial real estate strategy. Greener buildings and spaces can help your company improve recruitment and retention, increase productivity, lower costs and even make it easier to find clients and re-tenant your spaces. Along the way, you will also be doing the right thing from both a public relations and a global perspective.

Recruitment, Retention and Productivity

The largest portion of the American work force cares about sustainability. Generation Y grew up with the environmental movement. For them, Earth Day has always been a part of their calendar, and they want to work in green spaces for companies that care about their impact on the globe. Your Millennial workers want to see bike racks, rain water catchment systems, energy efficient lighting and recycled building components.

Green spaces don't just help you recruit, though. They're an important part of making your employees happy enough to stay. Along the way, the improved natural light and higher indoor air quality that comes with LEED-certified spaces, lead to greater employee productivity. They also improve your worker's health, reducing absenteeism and the risk of employees leaving to work somewhere that is more compatible with their healthy life style.

LEED Certified Buildings: The Savvy Tenant's Choice


Lower Costs

While it's true that green space costs more to build than a traditional building, the cost delta is less than it might seem. The US Green Building Council estimates that a green building costs just 2 percent more than an equivalent property that does not take sustainability into account. Given that the cost savings that come with sustainable property are significant, you can quickly recoup any additional cost in a LEED-certified building or build-out.

Cost savings from sustainability come in a range of different areas. Energy costs are lower. Encouraging your employees to bike to work can reduce your parking subsidy costs. Given an efficient build out, you might even be able to make do with less space -- and less rental expense.

At the same time, once you wind sustainability throughout your organization, you can save even more. Paperless office projects can reduce paper, toner and energy usage. Moving your servers to the cloud could reduce your IT energy usage by 70 percent or more, according to Google.

Deeper Impacts of Green Space

Green space is becoming more and more important in the economy as a whole. Don't be surprised if you see customers choose to work with you in part due to your commitment to sustainability -- or ruling you out if you aren't adequately bought in to the importance of being ecologically sensitive.

Making sustainability a part of your CRE strategy also gives you some protection if you ever need to re-lease your spaces. More and more tenants -- frequently led by government agencies -- are only looking at green spaces. Occupying sustainable space means that you may have an easier time finding tenants to take it over for you. Given that environmental consciousness continues to grow, this is likely to become even more important in the future than it is today.

Ultimately, though, building your CRE strategy around sustainability is simply the right thing to do. It makes good business sense, but it also allows your company to play a wider role in helping to keep the planet safe for human life -- and human commerce.


Other great Green Commercial Real Estate articles:

Going Green in Retail Commercial Real Estate

Our Top 5 Green Commercial Real Estate Predictions

The Intersection of Productivity and Sustainability


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Don Catalano

Don Catalano