Sustainability requires the attention of commercial building owners
Sustainability is increasingly seen as a standard feature for high-quality commercial real estate. Commercial building owners need to be aware that non-sustainable buildings will soon no longer be market leaders; on the contrary, buildings with a strong environmental base will be more attractive to occupiers and investors. Non-sustainable buildings will soon become less desirable to own and rent, and the lack of demand will drive down their value.
In order to maintain a good reputation, keep customers interested or attract good employees, tenants will also increasingly think about the environmental impact of their business activities. Last but not least, operating cost savings play an important role for tenants.
What is a green lease?
There is no legal definition of the term "green lease". A green lease is a standard lease with additional clauses aimed at improving the environment and the environmental performance of the building. As a general rule, leases can be classified as green leases if they meet certain requirements to improve the energy efficiency of the leased premises.
Green clauses can be used to negotiate environmental rules or commitments, for example in the areas of: (i) energy consumption (reducing or improving the efficiency of energy consumption, including the selection of alternative energy sources with a lower environmental impact), (ii) water consumption and discharge (reducing or improving the efficiency of water consumption or discharge), (iii) waste generation and management (reducing the generation of waste, improving the rate or efficiency of waste recycling or reuse of resources), (iv) generation or emission of greenhouse gases (reducing the generation or emission of greenhouse gases), (v) other negative environmental impacts of the use of the building.
In an environmentally efficient building, it is preferable to install only elements made of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly materials. Installation of energy-saving devices, e.g. lighting, toilet facilities, provisions for compliance with environmental regulations when carrying out work activities, provision of facilities for cyclists (e.g. bike storage, showers and changing rooms), providing shuttle services to connect to public transport hubs, creating suitable habitats to support local flora and fauna are just some of the many ideas for presenting a space as 'green' and following the so-called ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria, which are also an increasingly popular way of evaluating companies.
It will not be long before green leases are considered an asset rather than a liability. With increasing environmental legislation and the growing importance of sustainability and corporate social responsibility reporting, it is becoming increasingly important to identify opportunities to improve environmental performance, set targets and follow through. Of course, green leases do not automatically lead to environmental efficiency; real progress also requires a commitment to green obligations.