Earth Month is a great opportunity for facility managers to evaluate their properties’ sustainability. While many sustainable options are readily available to property managers and owners, they’re not always taken advantage of.
The fact is that focusing on your properties’ sustainability does more than just help the earth. It also saves you and your tenants money, promotes sustainable living from your residents, and makes your space more marketable in the future.
But how exactly can you reduce your natural resource use? While it may seem overwhelming when starting this plan, there are actually many simple things you can do to make your properties more sustainable. CTG Real Estate Services is here to help you with it all — from finding a space that best serves sustainability, to suggesting modifications to save resource use, to overseeing the implementation of those changes. Our founder and CEO Chris Gardner has a great deal of experience in this topic and can offer several services to make your properties as sustainable as possible.
Here are a few of the tips he might suggest to you:
Reducing Water Use
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, commercial buildings account for 88 percent of potable water consumption in the United States. That’s a huge number — but simple changes to your property’s facilities and management processes can bring down your environmental impact.
- Rain gardens and rain barrels: Most commercial real estate spaces live in a concrete jungle. Unfortunately, a lack of water-absorbent landscaping can lead to wasted water opportunities. Chris and his team can help you create a landscape that captures rainwater and diverts that water to necessary sprinklers and other systems that require this resource.
- Permeable pavement: On the same note, typical concrete paving forces water runoff. Runoff water collects all kinds of pollutants on its way out of a commercial real estate space. To minimize this impact, managers can implement permeable pavement, which allows water to seep into gravel and soil below.
- Efficient fixtures and appliances: It’s also important to focus on consumption of water inside your commercial spaces. Installing low-flow toilets and ensuring that faucets don’t leak are easy first steps to reducing your water waste. Put up signage to remind employees not to waste water, and water lawns only when it’s smart to do so with your weather schedule.
Reducing Electricity Use
Commercial buildings account for 18.7 percent of energy usage in the United States, and it’s no wonder why. Certain lights are kept on all night long, security systems must run constantly, and employees often work on computers all day long. But, there are some solutions for reducing your electricity use:
- Tree cover: Trees provide shade in the summer and block the wind in the winter — reducing the amount of energy your building needs to maintain a comfortable inside temperature. Bonus: They can also help collect rainwater and offset a little bit of your carbon emissions.
- Solar panels: Using renewable energy can help cut down on your electricity costs and environmental impact. Consider installing solar panels on your properties’ roofs to harness the energy of the sun.
- Strategic lighting in layout plan: Lighting can play a huge part in your properties’ energy uses. If possible, design commercial real estate layouts to hit that sweet spot of just enough light — but not too much that it will overheat the space in the summer. Relying on natural light instead of overhead lighting will help cut down on your electricity costs.
Reducing Carbon Emissions
Commercial real estate spaces are also notoriously bad for producing carbon emissions. In fact, commercial buildings account for 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. These lead to greenhouse gases, which cause more temperature extremes, which require more energy from buildings — you can see how the cycle continues.
But, you can break the cycle by reducing your carbon footprint with these steps:
- Green roof: A traditional concrete roof is a heat-magnet and often leaves equipment exposed to the elements. On the other hand, facility managers can implement a green roof — on which plants and grasses cover the top of the building. Not only does a green roof help maintain temperature in the building, but it also reduces storm water runoff, promotes urban biodiversity, and increases the longevity of the roofing membranes.
- Efficient HVAC systems: HVAC systems comprise 40 percent of all carbon emissions, so making sure you have an efficient HVAC system in your property is of critical importance. A facility manager should take into account the tenants’ heating and cooling needs and work with the area climate to be as sustainable as possible.
- Renewable energy and recycled materials: Using virgin energy and materials is perhaps the worst offender to the environment. Simply taking the extra step to incorporate renewable and recyclable materials into your properties will go a long way. As mentioned, try out solar panels for energy, or use recycled building materials when adding renovations onto existing buildings.
Taking the initiative to be more sustainable in your resource use will do more than help the earth — it will help your tenants and your business, too. For more tips on how to reduce your natural energy use in your properties, please schedule a consultation with CTG Real Estate Services today.