Go Green, Earn Green: 8 Effortless Ways to Make Commercial Real Estate More Sustainable
Commercial real estate often conjures images of towering skyscrapers and sprawling business parks. But as climate change accelerates, these structures face a reckoning. The pressure to adapt isn’t just about saving the planet — it’s about preserving the value of these investments.
The commercial real estate sector is catching up in practicing sustainability, realizing that green practices aren’t just good for the Earth — they’re good for business.
Here are some ways property owners and developers are turning the tide, making their spaces both sustainable and profitable.
- Harnessing Renewable Energy Systems
Renewable energy systems, especially solar panels, have rapidly become a cornerstone of sustainable commercial real estate.
Commercial properties, which account for nearly 35% of electricity consumption in the U.S., can significantly reduce their carbon footprint by integrating Photovoltaic (P.V.) rooftop solar panels.
These panels don’t just cut down on emissions— they also present a cost-effective solution.
Over the past decade, the solar installation cost has dropped by more than 70%, making it an increasingly affordable energy source. Businesses are recognizing this dual benefit.
The roofing choice for commercial buildings is also pivotal in energy efficiency. Metal roofs, for instance, have reflective properties that can protect against the sun’s rays, preventing excessive heat absorption.
This natural temperature regulation reduces the need for air conditioning, leading to substantial energy savings. Their durability also means less frequent replacements. They are also highly reusable and can be repurposed for different uses.
- Harvesting Rainwater
Half the world’s population experiences extreme water scarcity at least one month per year. Rainwater harvesting emerges as a practical solution to this challenge.
Commercial properties that collect and store rainwater can reduce their reliance on groundwater reserves by up to 50%. This leads to significant cost savings and alleviates the strain on city water supplies.
Moreover, rainwater is an excellent source for landscaping, reducing the demand for treated water. The financial benefits can be substantial for properties located in areas with water tariffs.
- Using Eco-friendly Materials
The construction industry accounts for about 39% of global carbon emissions in the world. To combat this, the industry is shifting towards sustainable materials.
Fiber cement panels are now one of the top choices for sustainable construction materials. Made using reclaimed water, these panels offer dual benefits— reduced water consumption and durable material for construction.
They are also designed to withstand extreme weather conditions, from scorching heat to freezing cold. This means reduced maintenance costs and a longer building life.
Incorporating such materials into commercial real estate projects is an eco-friendly move and a smart business decision.
- Going Modular
The construction industry is notorious for waste, but modular construction is changing the game.
Instead of building from scratch on-site, modular construction involves creating structural components in a controlled factory environment. This approach not only ensures precision but also significantly reduces waste.
Modular construction can accelerate construction by up to 50% and boost a project’s financial returns by 20%. By repurposing unused or recycled materials in the factory setting, emissions related to waste disposal decrease.
Additionally, the increased use of dry materials in modular construction means fewer emissions from wet processes like concrete curing.
- Retrofitting for Energy Efficiency
Retrofitting or updating older buildings with modern energy-efficient technologies is becoming a necessity these days.
In cities like London, for instance, the urgency is palpable. With regulations on the energy performance of buildings set to tighten in 2030, property owners are racing against the clock.
With retrofitting, owners can enhance the overall value of their property, making it more attractive to potential tenants or buyers who prioritize sustainability.
- Practicing Sustainable Construction
Sustainable construction is the way to go if you are building from the ground up. Green buildings, on average, have a seven percent increase in asset value compared to traditional buildings.
Land developers are recognizing the value of integrating sustainable construction methods from the outset. It benefits the environment and positively impacts the bottom line.
It also positions the property as a leader in sustainability, attracting eco-conscious tenants and buyers.
- Promoting Green Landscaping and Urban Farming
Landscaping significantly impacts the sustainability of commercial properties. When properties choose native plants, they often consume less water.
Native plants can reduce water use by up to 50% when adapted to local conditions. Moreover, these plants naturally resist local pests and diseases, decreasing reliance on harmful chemical pesticides.
Urban farming, especially on rooftops and underutilized spaces, offers multiple benefits. It can supply food to city dwellers, emphasizing the role of local produce in reducing transportation-related carbon emissions.
Furthermore, green spaces, such as rooftop gardens, mitigate the heat island effect and reduce temperatures up to 30 to 40 degrees.
Commercial properties integrating green landscaping and urban farming bolster their sustainability credentials and boost their aesthetic value. Such features also draw in tenants who prioritize environmental responsibility.
- Introducing Green Leasing Practices
Green leasing, often referred to as an energy-aligned lease, represents a growing trend in the commercial real estate sector.
This type of lease establishes a mutual agreement between landlords and tenants to prioritize energy efficiency and adopt sustainable practices within their spaces.
Buildings with green leases can save up to 22% in utility costs compared to their counterparts. These savings stem from clauses often in such leases, such as using energy-efficient appliances, adopting advanced HVAC systems and integrating smart building technologies.
Furthermore, green leases often stipulate shared responsibilities between landlords and tenants to achieve specific energy savings targets.
For instance, a landlord might ensure the building’s common areas meet certain energy standards. At the same time, tenants might be tasked with maintaining energy-efficient practices within their spaces.
Regular audits play a crucial role in these agreements. Green leases often mandate these audits to ensure both parties adhere to their commitments and achieve the desired energy savings.
Properties with green leases also often see higher occupancy rates and increased tenant satisfaction. This is because tenants, especially those in the corporate sector, are increasingly seeking spaces that align with their own sustainability goals.
Sustainable Shifts in Real Estate
The urgency to transform commercial real estate into sustainable hubs is palpable. Climate change isn’t a distant threat—it’s here and its effects are increasingly evident. But with challenge comes opportunity.
Property owners and developers have a pivotal role in shaping a greener future. Adopting these strategies can significantly reduce their carbon footprint and gain from increased property value, cost savings and a positive brand image.
For those passionate about the environment, these measures offer a concrete way to contribute to a more sustainable world. The journey towards green commercial real estate is both a responsibility and an opportunity and the time to act is now.