Green Buildings are the Places to Be

By doing a portion of the above, tenants will see improvements in both operating costs and worker productivity that will outweigh the expense of implementation. 

Did you know that in the U.S., buildings account for:

    36% of total energy use
    65% of electricity consumption
    30% of greenhouse gas emissions
    30% of raw materials use
    30% of waste output (136 million tons annually)
    12% of potable water consumption

As these figures suggest, we have passed the tipping point – being “green”, or energy efficient in office buildings is not just about conservation but about a higher standard for buildings.  In the near future, occupants will demand sustainability in their real estate to control costs, with environmental benefits being a secondary benefit.  Businesses’ top two expenses frequently are human resources and energy (and if not the top two, real estate costs are another major expense).  Just as a poor location can have a negative impact on productivity, energy-efficient locations not only cut costs but can boost productivity.  Occupancy in a “green” building is good business practice by not just saving money but improving overall health and well-being for the inhabitants by providing natural air and light, fewer toxins and climate control While slightly more expensive to build (an estimated <1%-4% additional for commercial buildings), environmental-friendly and energy efficient-systems can pay for themselves very quickly (11-36 months) as they are up to 20% less costly to operate. Among the corporate adherents of the “green” building movement are institutions such as Adobe, Bank of America, Citigroup, Genzyme, IBM, Microsoft, PNC, Toyota, General Motors, Ford, Honda, Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot. Although New York City currently lags behind cities such as Seattle, Portland, Pittsburgh, Washington D.C. and Boston in adopting and implementing environmental standards in new construction, the following properties represent the “green” elite in New York City:

    One Bryant Place/Bank of America Building – 42nd Street & Sixth Avenue (Currently under construction)
        $115/rsf asking rent
        Tenants will include:
            Bank of America
            Marathon Asset Management
            Elie Tahari
    300 West 57th Street/The Hearst Building – 57th Street & Eighth Avenue(Owned and fully-occupied by The Hearst Corporation)
    7 World Trade Center – Vesey & Greenwich Streets
        $70/rsf asking rent
        Tenants include:
            Moody’s Corporation
            Darby & Darby
    4 Times Square - 42nd Street & Broadway
        Fully-leased to Conde Nast and Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom

But if you’re unable to cough up triple-digit rents to get into a “green” building, what can the average midtown office tenant do to improve its carbon footprint before New York City suffers another blackout?  Here are suggestions for commercial tenants:

    For tenants in existing spaces with long-term commitments:
        Actively recycle paper, metal, glass
        Turn off the lights at night
        Purchase a scanner to conserve paper
        Stop printing emails (ditto)
        Purchase supplies locally
        Modify layout to take advantage of existing natural light
        Use mirrors to reflect existing lighting
        Open the windows
        Collect rainwater for plant irrigation
        Use cacti for landscape plants
    For tenants planning a relocation to a leased-facility:
        Hire a “green” architect
        Design a bright, open-plan layout
        Install motion sensors for any artificial lighting
        Install low-flow waterless or water-efficient bathroom fixtures
        Purchase refurbished and pre-owned furniture and workstations
        Use linoleum, not vinyl flooring
        Install LED-illuminated signage
        Use recyclable construction materials, such as:
            Recycled steel
            Recycled carpeting (carpet backing has 20,000 year landfill life)
            Recycled ceiling tiles
            Non-formaldehyde particle board
            Consider alternative insulation (Habitat for Humanity utilizes recycled blue jeans and Styrofoam)
            “Green” paint selection
    For tenants planning a relocation to an owned-facility
        Select site and design for sustainability
        Employ and enable reusable energy sources
        Install skylights
        Install roof garden or “green” roof
        Install sensors to monitor HVAC
        Install “green” refrigeration systems
        Use sustainable construction materials
        Reduce operation of parking garage exhaust fans
        Use porous paving materials in parking lots

By doing a portion of the above, tenants will see improvements in both operating costs and worker productivity that will outweigh the expense of implementation.