Green Buildings:
They’re Kind to Our Planet, They Make Your Employees Healthier and More Productive and They Improve Your Bottom Line

Green buildings have gone mainstream. No longer the province of “tree huggers,” they are embraced by major industries and experts across the political spectrum as an important way to fight global warming. And global warming is no longer a debatable issue; it’s real.

According to United Nations data, occupied buildings account for about 40% of global annual energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Estimates also suggest that 30% of new or renovated buildings suffer from “sick building syndrome,” exposing occupants, employees and customers to unhealthy conditions.

The good news is that more and more evidence suggests that green buildings (now sometimes called “better performing” buildings) deliver economic benefits. It’s not surprising that making a building more energy efficient, improving indoor air quality and saving water are not only good for the environment they also reduce your company’s labor and operating costs by improving worker productivity and reducing sick time.

Less measurable but probably equally important: you don’t have to move the thermostat, alter work processes or make any other active changes to enjoy the benefits. And choosing a “better performing” building enhances your image in the eyes of your customers, suppliers, competitors and the community in general.

To be designated “green,” a building has to meet very specific standards. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System was established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to give companies a benchmark system for improving the performance of their buildings.

LEED has rating systems for New Construction/Major Renovation (LEED-NC/MR), for Existing Buildings Operations & Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) and others; all are economically attainable as well as environmentally responsible and sustainable. LEED contains standards in a range of categories, including energy efficiency, indoor air quality, water conservation, recycling and waste minimization. There are minimum standards that all buildings must meet along with a point system for other criteria. By achieving certain point levels, a building can be LEED-Certified, -Silver, -Gold or –Platinum. Only the USGBC can declare a building LEED certified.

Meeting only LEED’s basic prerequisite energy efficiency standards will typically result in decreased direct fuel use, which will result in a decrease of GHG emissions. Other upgrades, such as a reduction in water use and in waste generation and handling will mean less energy demand, further decreasing fuel usage and GHG emissions.

Clearly, both tenants and landlords will enjoy direct benefits from new or existing buildings that meets LEED standards. According to USGBC, LEED-certified buildings use 30% less energy, 30%-50% less water and generate 50%-90% less waste than their non-LEED-certified counterparts. Thus, over the life of the building, the savings will repay the initial investment and provide lower operating costs. In fact, even upfront costs may be declining, as usage increases and vendors become more competitive.

Anyone who still doubts that powerful forces are joining the battle against global warming should read James Surowiecki’s article in the 10/19/09 New Yorker. Surowiecki notes that a number of companies have resigned from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the Chamber’s opposition to global-warming legislation. Among recent defectors are Apple, Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources and Exelon. Nike resigned from the organization’s board of directors. These companies and others have concluded, says James Surowiecki, that “global warming isn’t just bad for the planet; it’s bad for business.”

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In Orange County, there has never been a better time to rent commercial space. Rents are down because vacancies are up, and even “green” buildings offer tremendous opportunities.

In a nutshell: Of all the major office markets, Orange County is one of the most seriously affected by the downturn. This past year has seen one of the steepest drops ever in rental rates, precipitated, of course, by the large number of businesses that have closed or reduced their usage.

But one company’s loss can be another’s gain. Every sector of commercial real estate — office, medical, industrial, retail and flex — offers potential users the chance to enjoy reduced occupancy costs for years to come.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified buildings are of particular interest. They provide scores of advantages: energy efficiency; better indoor air quality, which means a more productive work environment for employees; sustainability; lower long-term costs; and the prestige of being associated with a property at the forefront of environmental awareness.

Whether or not moving or renting new space has crossed your mind, you owe it to yourself — and your company — to look at what’s out there. We’ll be happy to show you the unprecedented range of available buildings and to explain the unprecedented terms and conditions that are often there for the asking.

I invite you to call me at
(949)759-6661 for more information. Of course, there is no cost and no obligation.