Tommy Linstroth is the founder and CEO of Green badgera leading SaaS provider that simplifies sustainability and ESG in the construction industry.
The physical workspace is being radically rethought in real time. Whether companies are distributing their physical spaces by making hybrid or remote work a permanent part of their operations or reconfiguring their on-site offices to meet new workplace demands, few offices will look the same.
According to research by Slack and Economist Impact, 98% of UK business leaders have re-examined their physical spaces or invested in hybrid workspaces, reflecting a broad reconfiguration of business across the world.
When building or buying your next business space, green certification can make it efficient, effective and inviting. For example, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, a popular green building certification system that can be used for both new and existing buildings, allows business leaders to take advantage of their new spaces by analyzing and optimizing green spaces for design, construction, operation and maintenance.
As a LEED Fellow with nearly two decades of industry knowledge and experience on more than 1,000 green building projects, I know that the certification process can be complicated and difficult. However, I have found that the results are worth the effort, and green building certification is a powerful tool for designers and owners. Here are three reasons to consider certification for your next purchase or build.
1. Reduced impact on the environment
New construction can be a significant emitter of planet-warming greenhouse gases, accounting for nearly 40% of global emissions. In addition, construction consumes natural resources, exacerbating climate challenges and undermining sustainability initiatives.
However, certified green projects tend to use fewer resources, leveraging the circular economy, recycling protocols and other initiatives to reduce overall environmental impact. Moreover, LEED-certified projects can be generally more affordable, reducing the amount of carbon, water, energy and waste required to build and maintain the physical workspace.
At the same time, certified buildings can help provide a cleaner indoor environment, improve employee health, increase productivity and reduce sick leave. Simply put, green buildings put less strain on the outside environment while creating a healthier indoor experience.
2. Increased real estate value
Business leaders want to know that their real estate investments will support today’s workforce without compromising tomorrow’s financial flexibility. The certificate can improve the image of the facility and make it more attractive to tenants.
Green buildings are positively perceived in today’s market and can command higher rental prices. According to one study, LEED-certified properties earned about 11% more rent than their non-certified counterparts. Combined with cost savings from lower utility consumption, certification can be an investment that maximizes value across all segments.
With growing demand for green offices, business leaders can leverage certification to create facilities that support their teams, bottom-line investments, and long-term sustainability.
3. Lower operating and maintenance costs
A certified building can also cost less to maintain than a traditional building, which can be attributed to the building’s energy efficiency. Materials used in LEED buildings reduce water and energy consumption and reduce the overall cost of construction operations.
One analysis found that LEED-certified buildings accrued $1.2 billion in energy savings, $715.3 million in maintenance savings, $149.5 million in water savings, and $54.2 million in waste savings. A separate study concluded that operating costs for LEED-certified buildings were 7.43% lower per square foot, a significant indicator that highlights the long-term cost savings associated with LEED certification.
While lower maintenance costs are dependent on effective implementation of LEED certification, the financial benefit makes it a priority worth pursuing.
Start of work
If you are a business leader looking to remodel an existing purchase or build a new certified green building, keep these points in mind.
Certificates as an afterthought rarely produce results. So, regardless of which certification you will be working on, verifying the requirements and registering your project with an oversight agency (the US Green Building Council in the case of LEED) is an obvious early step and an important one.
For example, there are four different levels of LEED certification, from the simplest “Certified” to the comprehensive “Platinum” designation for the most sustainable green buildings. It is best to understand these levels and select those that may be achievable and appropriate for your building early in the process. If you are buying a property, the level of certification can give you insight into the green strategies applied. Other data points, such as a building’s Energy Star score, can also provide you with real-world performance feedback on how the building compares to similar buildings (a higher score is better!).
When assembling a team of qualified architects, engineers, contractors and sustainability consultants with certification experience, make sure you maintain regular communication up and down the chain. Develop a plan for the project that includes specific strategies to achieve certification, such as using sustainable materials, reducing energy and water consumption, and promoting a healthy indoor environment. And make sure the team knows that your sustainability goals are just as important as other project requirements.
Something to consider is the ongoing reporting requirements for building energy and water use. Although not demanding, depending on the date of certification, there may be an ongoing obligation to report utility data.
Additionally, tenants and tenants will likely expect any sustainable operational practices (green cleaning, IAQ monitoring) to continue, so it is also important to maintain consistent property management practices.
Ultimately, business leaders want to create cost-effective and healthy buildings that will last a long time. But I’ve found that loosely incorporating sustainability strategies into assets isn’t enough. A thorough third-party certification process can provide the necessary confirmation and credibility to tenants and the market by proving that sustainability has been properly implemented.
There is no shortage of options for green building certification, including WELL, Fitwel and BREEAM programs. There are now more than 100,000 LEED-certified projects in the US. These certified green buildings help create a healthier and more sustainable planet, as well as bring a host of financial and business benefits to their forward-thinking owners.
There is real-world proof that leaders who reimagine or recreate their physical spaces can improve their business priorities without compromising the planet or their people. It’s a rare win-win-win worth your attention today.
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