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Going green in commercial real estate

Darren Currin

With the growth of LEED certification and a desire among building owners, developers and tenants to become better stewards of the environment, green practices have increased significantly over the past decade both nationally and locally in the industry.

In honor of Earth Day, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) has issued its “Top 10 Ways” commercial real estate professionals can make energy efficiency and sustainability a priority on Earth Day and every day. With the office building industry accounting for nearly 20 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, BOMA has committed to helping its members and the industry as a whole improve energy management and sustainability practices.

BOMA International Chair and Chief Elected Officer Joe Markling, managing director of Strategic Accounts with CBRE, said the following about the list:

“These tips offer property professionals effective operational and management strategies for reducing energy consumption and elevating sustainability. As we approach Earth Day, it’s important to remember that making significant energy-efficiency improvements is within the reach of most building owners and managers, and many of the methods are no- or low-cost.”

1. Measure and Manage. Benchmark energy and water consumption through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager.

2. Audit Yourself. Perform regular energy audits to identify opportunities for cost-effective energy reductions. Remember to perform midnight evaluations to make sure lighting and HVAC aren’t running when the building is unoccupied.

3. Get the Word Out. Institute a Tenant Energy Awareness Program – use your company newsletter and/or building announcements to keep tenants informed about energy management goals and how they can help. Provide them with energy savings tips.

4. Become Enlightened. Replace incandescent lights with CFLs, which use less energy, have a longer lamp life and produce less heat.

5. Go Low Flow. Install low-flow/flush fixtures and hands-free fixtures in restrooms.

6. Don’t Forget Electronics. Hold an e-waste day and collect old printers, computers and electronics for recycling.

7. Use Sensors. Install occupancy sensors and photo sensors that monitor daylight. Occupancy sensors also work for HVAC controls.

8. Be Shady. Install solar shades to block heat.

9. Encourage Eco-Friendly Transportation. Install bicycle racks and electronic vehicle chargers.

10. Improve IAQ. Use high-efficiency HVAC filters – and change them often. Use low-VOC paints, sealants and adhesives for building improvements.

To learn more about BOMA’s International’s green initiatives, as well as more tips and strategies for greening buildings, visit www.boma.org/sustainability.

About Darren Currin