Sustainability In Commercial Building Construction Essay

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With all the climate discussions that is going on around the world in this 20th Century, more individuals and organizations are becoming very conscious of their contributions to help the climatic debate, with the construction industry also making their presences felt in this movement. The idea of building projects or refurbishing existing projects to meet energy efficiency needs has become the acceptable practice, with most clients investing more money into green projects. The idea of being environmentally friendly and also that fact that these buildings pay for themselves in the long terms have become very appealing to most people in the industry.

The idea of green building is very big in the United States with significant measures taken in the first administration of President Obama to increase the Better Building Initiative. It is estimated that since its conception, 2 billion square foot of commercial space has already been committed to participating including 300 manufacturing facilities and a mobilization of 2 billion dollars in financing (Comstock 2012) for green projects.

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In this part of the world, the idea of green/sustainable buildings is also gaining significant grounds. In the UK, BRE Environmental Assessment Method popularly known as BREEAM has been used to rate commercial properties since its launch in 1990, offering a fertile ground to investigate the economic dynamics of certified buildings under the various types of schemes they have (BREEAM). The government is also putting in legislation which is forcing landlords and tenants to have more efficient buildings. One such policy is EPC’s rating of building from A-G depending on how energy efficient the building is. Individual owners whose building do not meet the requirements or do not have a rating certificate are being fined and advised accordingly (EPC 2010).

With all these measures being undertaken, landlords and tenants are also doing their part to make their building more efficient. In this task, an evaluation of how commercial landlords might promote the concepts of sustainability in a tenancy agreement and the repairing obligation will be discussed. Although the financial benefits of going green takes a long time to materialize, landlords and tenants are still opting for this option because, it improves their the cooperate image as well as providing bottom-line business benefits for both party (Pinsnet 2012)

Green Leases

A green lease is an agreement between the landlord and a tenant with measures set out to be undertaken by both parties to address the issue of sustainability of the building in the areas of energy efficiency measures, waste reduction and water efficiency (Pinsent 2012). It also incorporates clauses with regards to supply, maintenance and operational use of the building (Pinsent 2012).

Some Critical Measures Landlords Can Take to Improve Sustainability

The following are some clauses in a green lease that a commercial landlord and tenant can adopt to promote sustainability;

Energy and Water Efficiency Targets

Data sharing

Alterations and Maintenance

Tenant Handbook Policy

Building Management Committee

Separate Metering

Dispute Resolutions

Energy and Water Efficiency Target

Landlords and tenants should set efficiency targets that could be linked to rating such EPC or DEC ratings. These ratings help establish what kind of measures taken are sustainable or not. Setting a carbon dioxide and energy reduction target can be an example of energy efficiency target. Targets to reduce water usage can also be incorporated into the efficiency target. These targets must also come with financial punishment should the landlord or tenant refuse to meet the targets set. Increase service rent can be issued out to the tenant if he fails to meet the targets and a rent abatement can be issued out to the landlord should he also fail to meet the target (Pinsent 2012).

Data Sharing

To promote sustainability in the tenancy agreement, landlords and tenants are obliged to share energy and water use data. Data coming from energy consumptions together with any maintenance records for major service equipment should be shared between landlords and tenants. This practice will help identify the areas that need attention in terms of sustainability and areas where efficiency targets are being met. Measuring of water usage data should not be left out; the gathering of information should be done in the manner that will produce useful information in the form of identifying water loss through leakages and overflow. The measurement of these data should be done using an approved industry approach on an annual basis and also done in a manner that will produce meaningful and usable data (Bugden, Clarke 2009).

Alteration and Maintenance

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The landlord should make sure that any alterations carried out by the tenant do no alter the sustainable element of the building or have adverse effect on the EPC/DEC ratings of the building (Pinsent 2012). When it comes to maintenance, landlords and tenants must ensure that contractors performing maintenance duties use sustainable materials to avoid affecting the performance of the building. Service equipment should be maintained regularly according to the service manual guides and whenever an equipment needs replacement, the idea of like to like should be avoided but rather, landlords and tenant should research into alternative equipments which are energy efficient (Bugden, Clarke 2009). The use of high efficiency plumbing fixtures and technology can be adapted to minimize water waste. Treated harvested rainwater can be used directly or in the form of irrigation system where potable water is not necessarily needed (Bugden, Clarke 2009). Cleaning contractors for maintaining commercial building should be made to follow the sustainability guidelines i.e. waste management, energy and water conservation policies.

Tenant Handbook Policy

Landlords are obliged to produce and provided tenant with handbooks which contains sustainable initiatives. This handbook can and should include EPC/DEC ratings and recommendations. Management practices regarding energy reduction targets, energy metering and monitoring data should all be contained in this handbook. Also an environmental policy, water performance data and waste strategy details as well any financial support schemes should be highlighted in the handbook (Pinsent 2012).

Building Management Committee

Landlords can incorporate into their lease, the setup of a Building Management Committee. This building management committee should consist of a managing agent, tenant representative, owner’s rep and other third parties that will ensure that sustainability targets are been met. This committee from both sides will meet at least once a year to review the sustainability plans, share information and also develop other new methods of sustaining or enhancing the performance of the building will also help set and review management practices for the building (Pinsent 2012).

Separate Metering

Individual meters should be provided for separate parts of the building especially major consumption areas (i.e. cooling towers, bathrooms) as well as for individual tenants if the building houses a multi-let system. These separate meters can help collect energy consumption data which will be very useful to landlords, tenants and the building management committee in creating efficiency targets for the building (Bugden, Clarke 2009).

Dispute Solution Measures

Landlords should not forget to incorporate into the tenancy agreement ways to manage disputes should they arise. This will give both tenants and landlords the assurance and vote of confidence that if any problem is encountered during the tenancy agreement, the proper procedures will be followed to have matters resolved (Bugden, Clarke 2009).

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Summary/Conclusion

Some critical measures that landlords can take to promote sustainability in their tenancy agreement have been highlighted above. Some these measures include adopting efficient management/targets in the areas of energy usage and water consumptions. Sharing of data, installing separate meters for muilti-lets, setting up a building management committee and others are also some ways sustainability can be achieved between landlords and tenants.

One should be aware that in order for the sustainability to be achieved, the cooperation of landlords and tenants is very important. Some measures may require installation of new equipments while others will require re-orienting the behaviors of the tenants to become more efficient. Landlords and tenants should be aware that the not all circumstances will be applicable with the measures discussed as individual cases might be slightly different hence green lease measures must be tailored to meet individual cases in those circumstances.