Incorporating Energy Efficiency into Leases
REPORT PREPARED BY ENERGY STAR
If you are leasing space, incorporate energy efficiency into your tenancy from the beginning. Adopt “green lease” language as a standard practice to ensure that building energy and environmental performance will be maintained over time. The BOMA Green Lease Guide is one resource; work with your attorneys to adapt it to your needs. If you are considering renewing your lease, leverage this to get the building owner to commit to enhancing the building’s performance. During negotiations, understand how “pass-through” costs might affect your total cost of occupancy as the owner invests in building upgrades over time. If you’re going to share the costs of upgrades, structure your lease so you can share in the benefits as well in the form of reduced occupancy costs.
Look for property management staff expertise. This is typically correlated with energy performance and can directly affect your operating costs. In fact, good operations and maintenance is a better determining factor of energy performance than the building’s age and technology. Ask current staff how long they have been at the property and about their level of experience in the field. Find out if the property management firm is an ENERGY STAR partner and whether they have won awards for superior energy management programs. Another indication of commitment to energy efficiency is whether the owner or management firm has taken the ENERGY STAR Challenge, a national call-to-action to improve the energy efficiency of America’s commercial and industrial buildings by 10 percent or more. Also, look for firms that have signed on to BOMA’s 7-Point Challenge, part of their Market Transformation Energy Plan.
You may also be able to enhance the process by working with a broker that is up to speed on sustainability issues. For example, look for brokers participating in green education or certification programs such as the Certified Green Broker Designation from the Commercial Brokers Association and the Cascadia Green Building Council.
Engage the building owner and property management firm in your efforts, sharing ideas and partnering with them to find ways to improve energy efficiency, which will ultimately lead to cost savings and an improved environmental image. Request a meeting to discuss their energy management strategies. If they have not already done so, encourage them to partner with ENERGY STAR and benchmark the building.
Many building owners and managers are only waiting to get the “go-ahead” from their tenants to invest in energy performance. Communicate your interest by pointing the owner and manager to the ENERGY STAR Building Upgrade Manual, which contains practical information for implementing profitable upgrades.