Over the past two decades, green and sustainable construction and property management has evolved from a fringe movement to achieving mainstream status. This day and age, you hear everyone talking about going green. The reality is at some point in time everyone will have to incorporate the green movement into everyday practices. This is because at the rate we are going, the earth is simply not sustainable. That means that over the years, we will begin to run out of certain natural resources that are needed in order for us to survive.
With growing populations and intensified economic activities, the region is increasingly looking for more sustainable ways of constructing and maintaining buildings and cities. There has been a growing focus on the importance of creating properties that are smarter and more energy-efficient, particularly in the case of Dubai. This reality is creating a new generation of property managers who focus on promoting a culture of sustainability by staying on the forefront of sustainable development and management practices. Alongside the traditional expectations to maintain property and remain accountable to owners and tenants, these added responsibilities are becoming part of successful property management. A combination of environmental consciousness and the rising costs of resources have made topics like corporate environmental culture, material recycling, hazardous chemicals regulation, and building energy efficiency important subjects for management. Property Management companies can start by implementing green practices within there operating standards by incorporating the following three initiatives:
Creating a ‘Green Corporate Culture’:
Creating a culture within the property management company is the first step in ensuring sustainable practices throughout the management process. Promoting green practices and following the steps to improve, recycling methods and volatile organic compound used in the office space will show clients and tenants that these initiatives are serious. Running costs are in excess of 10% of revenues today, largely due to energy consumption. At the very least you should keep analyzing your energy data regularly to check that things aren’t getting worse. It’s pretty normal for unwatched properties to become less efficient with time: it’s to be expected that equipment will break down or lose efficiency, and that people will forget the good habits you worked hard to encourage.
Green Lease Agreements:
Green lease agreements are another development to facilitate sustainability in the property industry. Property managers and landlords can use green leases to work with tenants to maximise the sustainable elements of the building that they live or work in. Property managers and tenants can negotiate an agreement whereby the tenant agrees to use energy-rated major electrical equipment, reduce electricity and water consumption, and recycle and manage other waste responsibly. In exchange, the property manager agrees to manage the building’s mechanical systems to conserve energy, install water fixtures to reduce water consumption, operate an effective recycling program and more.
The combined efforts of the tenant and the owner or property manager not only reduce the impact of everyday living and working on the environment, but can also represent cost savings on water and electricity for the tenant.
Carbon Audits: The Key to Sustainability
Property Management Companies need to become pioneers in property environmental analytics. It all starts with implementing an effective environmental policy that is measured through an annual or quarterly carbon audit. Operational efficiency and energy cost reduction doesn’t happen overnight. Energy consumption alone contributes to around 50 % of the overall building running costs in Dubai. Sustainable management requires diligent testing and monitoring, interviews with key stakeholders and keen insight to direct property management companies toward the most economical policies, equipment choices and controls.
The property industry has an important role to play in environmental sustainability. It can significantly reduce the negative impact that a new building has on the environment over time by integrating sustainable features into the design and construction of new buildings. Retrofitting existing buildings with green features is another way that sustainability can be implemented. Demand for green building management is set to rise in the coming years as more environmentally conscious tenants look for green space and public awareness of real estate sustainability rises. Understanding the advantages of green property management practices will help landlords and tenants reduce their operating costs and prolong the building life cycle.
*Fadi Nwilati is the CEO of Kaizen Asset Management Services, who are Property Managers for several commercial properties in the UAE in established commercial areas like Dubai Media City, JLT, DIFC and many more.