Facing a down economy, shrinking budgets and significant pressures to outperform the year’s commitments, how do you find time for sustainability? Let’s face it, if there is no payback within the current year, it’s unlikely you can get capital or modify your operating budget to make any kind of significant difference toward a green program, right? Wrong!
In a recessionary environment there’s more than one way to cut costs and leverage those savings to support other initiatives. In addition to pure cost savings, a little bit of planning and adjustment of current policies can yield results with little or no additional expense.
Our approach at the Greater Phoenix Chapter of IFMA, beginning in August 2008, was to establish a Facility Managers’ Green Peer Group (FMGPG) to foster open information exchange and provide a forum for sharing best practices.
What FMGPG has done is to create the environment for the peer group to be successful. A facilitator who is familiar with the subject matter is the primary pivot point; we manage and develop the agenda, secure the location and communicate through the FMGPG to the group members. The facilitator then leads the meeting and keeps the group focused on the agenda and future goals.
The initial goal of the peer group was to educate the members on the five major categories of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) as they related to the Existing Building Operations and Maintenance structure, or EBOM.
The LEED-EB system focuses on building maintenance and operations. Unlike the other LEED standards, points are awarded for established programs and policies with measured results over time. Metrics are taken during a performance period lasting from three to 12 months.
As with the LEED for new construction products, points are awarded in six categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor air quality, and innovation in operations
There are 92 available points, with a minimum of 34 required for the lowest level of certification. Most organizations nationwide appear to be striving for Silver or Gold certification based on the initial condition of the building.
We established a yearlong program that was based on the following formula:
General Discussion and Checklist Review + Facility Examples and Benchmarking + Site Visit = A Solid Foundation of Understanding.
So, what’s the bottom line on the benefits of the peer group:
One LEED case study, managed by an IFMA CFM (Certified Facility Manager), has shown the following validated results:
- Effectively reduced electricity use by 35 percent.
- Effectively reduced natural gas use by 41 percent.
- Reduced domestic water use by 22 percent.
- Reduced landscape water use by 76 percent.
- Diverted up to 85 percent of its solid waste.
- Reduced total pollution by 26 percent.
- Reduced CO2 emissions by 17 percent.
A new study by CoStar Group, the commercial equivalent of MLS, has found that sustainable “green” buildings outperform their peer, non-green assets in key areas such as occupancy, sale price and rental rates, sometimes by wide margins.
The results indicate a broader demand by property investors and tenants for buildings that have earned either LEED certification or the Energy Star label, and strengthen the “business case” for green buildings, which proponents have increasingly cast as financially sound investments.
According to the study, LEED buildings command rent premiums of $11.24 per square foot over their non-LEED peers, and have 3.8 percent higher occupancy. Rental rates in Energy Star buildings represent a $2.38 per square foot premium over comparable non-Energy Star buildings, and have 3.6 percent higher occupancy. And, in a trend that could signal greater attention from institutional investors and the C-level, Energy Star buildings are selling for an average of $61 per square foot more than their peers, while LEED buildings command a remarkable $171 more per square foot.
At the end of the day — even in a down economy — you can make a difference, even with little or no budget.