5 Ways Commercial Properties Can Become More Environmentally Friendly
It’s 2020, and we’ve come a long way as a society with so many advances in engineering, technology and medicine. As areas continue to develop, cities become more inhabited, buildings get larger and energy output increases. While this a great thing for our generation, one thing has also surfaced to the top of crisis monitoring; sustainability.
As business leaders, it’s important to play a part in helping create a landscape for future generations. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, residential and commercial real estate sectors accounted for nearly 40% of total U.S. energy consumption in 2018. The Urban Land Institute also notes that commercial buildings account for 39% of global carbon emissions. While the Department of Energy has established national efficiency standards for a number of products such as appliances, equipment and lighting, these guidelines don’t necessarily account for buildings themselves. It’s up to building owners and developers to help continue the green effort and offset energy consumption.
If you’re not building a new development, what are some opportunities to make your building eco-friendly? There are several easy renovations that can be done to help your output while also adding cost savings in the long run. Here are 5 easy tips to consider when building or upgrading your property.
- Switch to LED Lighting – LED lighting emits little heat and is extremely energy efficient. It also comes with a cost savings for owners on energy bills and bulb replacements and usually pays for itself within a year. Lighting can be the largest portion of electricity used in a commercial building. Encourage tenants to help in the efficiency effort by turning lights off in vacant rooms. Installing sensors and timers can be another great way to help reduce unnecessary lighting.
- Use Solar Energy – Luckily, many developers are in line with eco-friendly design options and are doing their part to help the trend, including investing in solar energy options. This effort should be thought of as an investment rather than an expense, as it offers cost savings over time but it also comes with positive social impact. The use of solar energy has been gaining increasing popularity over the last several years for its ability to generate power without giving off carbon emissions. The cost for installing solar panels also continues to drop as this option becomes a more desirable feature in commercial property.
- Install High-Efficiency HVAC Systems – These systems are designed to maximize efficiency, providing both heating and cooling at the same time while potentially decreasing energy consumption by up to 40%, also reducing the amount spent on energy. High-efficiency HVAC systems help determine the amount of ventilation needed in the building to stop overproduction of air and heat. Because these systems are designed to minimize on-and-off cycling, they also experience a longer operating life with less need for repairs.
- Bring In A Dual Plumbing System – Commercial properties put out a large amount of water. The dual plumbing system is designed to conserve water by separating it into 2 types; potable and reclaimed. Potable water can be used for drinking and washing. Reclaimed water is treated and reused for irrigation and toilet flushing.
- Incorporate Recycled Insulation – Proper insulation is necessary to keep your building energy efficient, but there are more options today than the typical pink fiberglass. Try replacing your current insulation with insulation made of recycled materials, including fibers from old denim. Reusing old materials is a great way to save money, too.
For help in becoming more eco-friendly, as well as achieving sustainability recognition, participate in programs offered by organizations such as the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). IREM awards a Certified Sustainable Property (CSP) certification after specific requirements are met according to the type of property.
As “going green” becomes more of a focus on individuals worldwide, incorporating energy efficient solutions into commercial properties positions developers and owners to be leaders in value-added assets as well as having buildings more attractive to potential owners and tenants.