Green leasing for commercial buildings isn't a tough concept to grasp. The challenge is getting owners and tenants to believe that it can work for them, and not just giant properties.
The city of San Francisco and the Business Council on Climate Change are offering a new resource to help get that point across -- and guide building owners and tenants step-by-step through the process of green leasing.
The Green Tenant Toolkit at www.greentenanttoolkit.com is free. And though it was created in San Francisco, the toolkit is designed to be a reference guide for owners and tenants in just about any town.
The online resource is designed to be used by property owners, managers and tenants whether they are new to green leasing or experienced, said Stephanie Rico, Wells Fargo's vice president for environmental affairs, who was part of the working group that helped create the toolkit. Users also can start using the tools at any stage of the leasing process. "We wanted it to be very, very flexible," she said.
Buildings account for almost 40 percent of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Reducing their energy consumption through better efficiency is considered the best bet for shrinking the carbon footprint of the entire built environment.
Studies have shown that market values are higher and vacancies and costs are lower in green commercial buildings. But landlords often see the upfront investments and payback periods for energy and other efficiency projects as outweighing increased market value. Obtaining financing for green upgrades can be challenging. And tenants, though they benefit from lower utility costs and other advantages, can have a difficult time making a case for improvements to office space for which they have no long-term vested interest.
The Green Tenant Toolkit walks users through those challenges and offers ways to craft win-win situations for building owners, property managers and tenants, creators of the platform say.
The toolkit joins a host of other resources that are available online about green leasing. They include guides and programs offered by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Jones Lang LaSalle and a coalition of other businesses focused on commercial buildings.
San Francisco's toolkit can be used alone or in conjunction with the other material. The guide is the latest addition to the city's array of resources for improving the energy efficiency and environmental performance of commercial buildings. Earlier this month, the city launched a PACE program for financing green building improvements for commercial properties.
San Francisco is among the U.S. cities that are pushing hard for the greening of existing commercial buildings and has some of the strongest measures on the books covering building energy performance.
To the chagrin of other towns that also have major sustainability programs, San Francisco topped two green ranking lists this year. A study from Siemens named San Francisco the greenest city in North America. For a second consecutive year, the city scored the highest in the Green Building Opportunity Index, which is compiled by Cushman & Wakefield in collaboration with the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance's BetterBricks initiative.
Image Credits - San Francisco photo CC licensed by Flickr user Kiwanja. Logo courtesy of the Business Council on Climate Change.