Sustainable Performance: Key Performance Indicators Property Managers and Operators Should Evaluate

October 12, 2021 | By: Owen Kavanagh

With maintenance and operation costs on the rise, sustainability is becoming more important everyday. Sustainable options exist in nearly every commercial real estate market, but what are some of the ways sustainable performance can be measured? Why even go for sustainable options? Property managers and operators are at the forefront of these issues,and this article can help.

Going Green

Leasing is the bread and butter of commercial real estate and keeping sustainable options at the forefront of your mind can bring in more clients. When comparing two buildings, what do you think of first ? Location? Appearance? Amenities? When a tenant compares two extremely similar buildings, what is there left to look at? Cost. Sustainable options can aid in reducing building operations costs. Consider the humble toilet. The toilets in building A use five gallons per flush, while those in building B use three gallons. A difference of two gallons does not seem enormous, but when you consider the number of toilets and amount used each day over a year, the difference between the two can grow monumentally. Choosing building B over A would save two gallons per flush, and at an average of 2.6 flushes a day (per the Pacific Institute),assuming 250 workdays in a year, that is an estimated water savings of 1,300 gallons per employee per year, and that’s just one toilet! Sustainable options are not only cost effective;they are marketable and quantifiable. The sustainability of your building is an excellent tool for getting new tenants in the door, and the benchmarking, energy use data, and certifications are a necessity for many prospects.

Performance Indicators

Some of the clearest indicators are water and energy efficiency. Just like with the example earlier, you can track your water usage and find the best ways to save. Saving water will be incremental, but even small savings add up over the course of multiple years. Installing low-flow fixtures can save millions of gallons over the years and switching early will always save more in the long run. Energy efficiency is another major way to save. From lighting to HVAC, all your energy consumption can be tracked, and the ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager is an excellent option for benchmarking your building’s energy data. This dashboard uses the Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey(CBECS) for scoring, so that you can compare your building to comparable buildings to improve your ENERGY STAR®score.

Sustainable Solutions

Benchmarking your energy consumption is just the first step. After a year of benchmarking, you can receive your ENERGY STAR®score.This score can be used in the BOMA 360 Performance Program, orif the score is 75 or higher, you can apply for a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.If your market does not prioritize these certifications, or you are worried about keeping up with them, you can still follow their guidelines without applying. LEED, BOMA 360, and ENERGY STAR®are all excellent programs, and following their guidelines will reap benefits without having to apply for them, though these certifications are extremely helpful to have. ENERGY STAR®in particular is a great place to start, the ENERGY STAR®Portfolio Manager will give tips on how and where your building can save.Sustainability is highly quantifiable, and tracking it is easier than ever.

Lighting, water, and HVAC use are the easiest factors to track, but tracking is just the start. “Look for synergistic solutions,” explained David Vences, SMA®, SMT®, LEED®, Green Associate, the Manager of Facilities Operations at Highwoods Properties. “Operators and managers should look at synergistic solutions,” Vences said. “LED lighting is an excellent example.It lowers overall cost through its energy efficiency, the diodes inside are highly recyclable, they are easy to replace, and the increased brightness compared to fluorescent can aid in security.”

Synergistic solutions will aid in your building’s performance. Upgrading to newer and more efficient chillers or improving HVAC systems can save in energy costs and provide a more comfortable environment for tenants. Switching to sustainable lighting such as LEDs can drastically improve lighting quality for less energy and waste. Switching to sustainable options, use tracking, and synergistic solutions all coalesce into one thing, saving you money. All three of these can help your bottom line and more.Why wait until outside forces encourage you? Get ahead of the pack and invest in your bottom line.

See the entire library of ENERGY STAR® videos and articles in our 2021 ENERGY STAR® Content Guide.


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•Insight and Expertise David Vences, SMA®, SMT®, LEED®, Green Associate, Manager of Facilities Operations at Highwoods Properties

•Details of Commercial and Industrial Assumptions, by End Use, Appendix D. Pacific Institute

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