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LEED-EBOM Certification: How To Overcome Challenges Of Multi-tenant Facilities

By Casey Laughman, Managing Editor - June 2013 - Green


While LEED-EBOM is never "easy," it becomes more complicated when you add in the demands of multi-tenant facilities. Here's how to overcome the challenges of multi-tenant facilities to earn LEED-EBOM certification.

Once a year, Amanda Madrid goes through other people's trash.

The technical term is a "waste audit," says Madrid, a general manager for Jones Lang LaSalle, who manages Mansell Overlook in Roswell, Ga. During Jones Lang LaSalle's Earth Week activities, her team will collect all the trash from the building one night, spread it out on the floor and go through it to evaluate what's getting thrown away and what could be recycled.

The project is part of a focus on sustainability in general and LEED in particular in the LEED-EBOM Gold-certified building. It can also help sell reluctant tenants on the role they can play in helping the facility maintain its certification and improve its overall performance. Sometimes, Madrid will invite tenants to come see what they're throwing away, as she did for one tenant who wasn't interested in recycling — but did have quite a reaction to seeing her office's waste collected in one spot.

The reaction was, "I can't believe how much Styrofoam we have," Madrid says, but what was most important was the action, not the reaction. "The occupant is now buying cups with biodegradable content," Madrid says. "It made an impact on her to see all her waste in that room."

Madrid's experience shows one of the biggest challenges facing facility managers pursuing LEED-EBOM certification in a multi-tenant building: The No. 1 goal is to keep the building full, so if a tenant says they're not going to cooperate, telling them to hit the road is not the smartest business decision. Different tenants all want different things, as well, which is another complication; then, of course, there's also what the owner of the building wants.

So if a LEED-EBOM project in an owner-occupied or single-tenant facility is herding cats, then in a multi-tenant facility it's herding cats, dogs, chimpanzees, and kangaroos.

"You have to consider that not everybody has the same initiatives," Madrid says. "If you had just one user, it's different, because that company would say 'OK, we are all going to recycle. We are all going to telecommute, or save energy by shutting off our lights at the end of the day. '"

The other variable, of course, is the building owner, says Brad Molotsky, executive vice president and general counsel, Brandywine Realty Trust. As an example of the considerations there, Molotsky points out that as a general rule, the tenant pays its own utility bill (the exception is a "gross lease," under which the owner pays utilities), so efficiency savings may not be as noticeable on the bottom line for the owner, which often leads to one big question.

"If the tenant is not clamoring for it," Molotsky says, "why should the owner/property manager do it, absent a marked increase in net operating income or value for their property?"

Being able to answer that question and balance business with environmental stewardship are key to being successful with LEED-EBOM projects in any setting, and especially in the multi-tenant sector. To accomplish this, those who have successfully achieved LEED-EBOM certifications in multi-tenant facilities say that there are a few key things to remember: Know your tenants; keep both the financial and non-financial considerations in mind; and take advantage of data to sell both tenants and owners on new ideas.





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