In my home state of Georgia, daffodils shine bright yellow in the morning sun like little heads looking around announcing the beginning of spring until old dogwoods and azaleas explode into whites and pinks in mature stately landscapes, our country offers some of the most beautiful sights on the planet.
Keeping our country beautiful is not a passive pursuit. Actions must take place to sustain our planet and our property managers and owners, are always searching for new ways to protect our environment and reduce the impact the built environment has on our beautiful state. One of these options is through third party programs where properties can become certified for green or healthy building practices. These third-party certifications identify companies practicing sustainability programs such as LEED and BOMA 360 and creating healthier buildings for their prospective tenants utilizing principles from WELL and Fitwell.
“It gives people confidence in how the buildings operating that they are working at in a good environment where the ownership cares.” Explains Chris Lelle, portfolio chief engineer at Lincoln Properties. “They can be healthy, and they can be more productive in the building. It really does demonstrate that you are doing the right things in the building. We should always be good stewards of our environment and efficiency.”
“It’s not just a marketing thing for our leasing agents, but a lot of customers are really jumping on the sustainability bandwagon and even here very recently I’ve had several customers reach out to me because they’re implementing their own new sustainability practices and they’re looking at Portman to guide them in that direction,” says Michael Knox, chief engineer at Portman Management. “They want to know what other customers are doing and the building, in terms of sustainability and how can they be a part of it?”
“I think the big thing that I’m seeing right now is the customer drive towards sustainability. The companies are becoming more involved and are looking for answers from management and building owners to see what they can do and what the property owners are going to allow them to do, within their own spaces at the properties. I think that is the big driver right now.” Knox continues.
Charlie Cichetti, CEO with Green Building Education Services (GBES) explains further, “The reason you go for a LEED certification, for some of my clients, is to get that 3rd party validation that this is a Green Building and that is going to help us with our valuation, it is going to force us to reduce our operating costs, it may be more attractive to certain tenants and I know a lot of Fortune 500 companies will only lease space in a Green Building.”
”While LEED is all about how your building’s impacts the environment, WELL certification is focused on your building’s impact on the people in the building.” Cichetti explains. “For example, the lights in the room, if it is a LEED project, we want to make sure they are energy efficient, and we reduce our carbon emissions. But if it is a WELL project, those lights can affect how we sleep tonight and circadian rhythms. A WELL certification ensures that this is a healthy space. It answers, is this a healthy building or not?” WELL philosophy would have buildings lighting systems dim as the evening hours progress to naturally help the body prepare for winding down from the day and prepare for sleep.”
“Then you have BOMA 360, which compliments these other certifications. It is well rounded. BOMA 360 is a good place for a building to start in exploring different certifications.” Cichetti adds.
While these certifications have become a big part of our built environment conversations in Atlanta, these designations are not as easy as signing off on a few improvements. It will take effort and most importantly, it will take a whole team doing their part. Everyone will have a unique role to play from the building owners, managers, to the engineers, tenants, and the vendors who support management team at properties.
“Everybody has to buy in to it. Everyone has to buy in to the goal. And part of what we have to do to achieve that goal is to fully understand the timeline for achieving the goal.” Knox explains. “Everyone must be aware of what resources are we going to have to pull from to ensure we meet that deadline. It is a lot of information that has to be collected and everyone has to understand their role.”
“Teamwork is critical to making sure that any data and information is flowing in the right direction. There needs to be a gatekeeper. Somebody who collects all the data from all the different teams and forwards that information to the certification entity. Teamwork is essential in anything we do in Property Management is and this is no different.” Says Knox.
Lelle explains the importance of teamwork for achieving building certifications. “The certifications are really multi-faceted. They involve many disciplines to accomplish. Property management and engineering alike. Property managers work directly with the janitorial companies so you have to understand where they are getting their paper supplies, what type of paper supplies are you using. That can help just as tracking your waste and understanding if they are recycling properly. They need to look at what chemicals are being utilized to clean and ensuring HEPA filters are being used on the vacuums.” Lelle says.
This is where working with trusted vendors will help with understanding the products and chemicals that may affect air quality and cleaning efficacy.
Join me next week as I discuss building an environment of excellence and how you can find the right certification for your CRE property.
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