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Going Green Pays Off in Commercial Property Management

The Goal: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification
LEED is the rating system set by the U.S. Green Building Council. Points in this rating system are awarded in a variety of areas, based in part on how energy efficient the building is. The total score results in a building"s environmental ranking. The building can be new or retrofit, and does not receive LEED certification unless a certain threshold of points is obtained. Points are awarded in the following areas: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy, materials/resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation/design process. Some buildings are certified at the platinum level, the highest level of certification that can occur when 75 percent of the possible score is achieved. Silver and gold levels also exist, to represent above-average sustainability.
Is the Extra Expense Worth the Return?
Adobe, the big software corporation in San Jose, California, retrofitted their three office towers in San Jose to meet LEED requirements. Within one year of certification, Adobe received utility and state reimbursements totaling $389,000, and had trimmed down their operating budget by over one million dollars. According to the Journal of Property Management, this savings represents a whopping 121 percent return on their initial investment. By becoming LEED qualified, they increased the value of their property and improved their competitive position. Legislation will someday enforce higher environmental standards, so Adobe is staying way ahead of the curve.
Green Options
Some specific ways to green the property include retrofitting water-saving features, like low-flow toilets and faucets. If landscape irrigation is necessary, only microclimate-specific controllers should be used. Improving HVAC systems often yields a fast payback, as does replacing old, single glazed windows. Updating the ventilation system to operate on an "on demand- system saves energy, and green cleaning methods can provide a healthier indoor environment for people by reducing chemical sensitivities and allergens. Motion detectors can be installed to determine when people are in a room so that lights and air conditioning turn off automatically if the room is unoccupied.
The U.S. Green Building Council can assist in taking you through the LEED process. Go to for more information.
Going green costs less than you think. (2008, January). Journal of Property Management, 73(1), 7. 
Retrieved February 9, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Global database. (Document ID: 1566880151).

By Rita Henry
Get Property Management Jobs, Contributing Editor

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