Building a greener future for our office spaces
It's not just our planet, however, that is suffering from the environmental impact of our buildings. As regulations tighten around the sustainability credentials of commercial properties, offices face becoming unlettable if they fail to meet the new environmental standards. Moreover, with 75% of office tenants looking to embrace ESG, a building which boats eco-friendly measures will become increasingly more attractive in our sustainability-conscious world. So how can we ensure our commercial properties meet these environmental goals?
There's no easy set of instructions for building operators looking to improve their property's environmental credentials. The fact is that, as new technology arises and a new research emerges, the best approach to sustainability will develop in tandem. To stay current with developments and standards, and to foster a sense of accountability, buildings should engage in regular assessments and reflection on their environmental impact. Only through collecting up-to-date data on energy and water consumption, carbon emissions, and recycling levels, can building operators fully understand their effect on our planet and develop strategies to mitigate this. In particular, accreditations such as BREEAM, PlanetMark and the B Corporation Certification offer a benchmark for sustainability practices, against which building operators can measure their own properties.
In my own experience at Office Space in Town (OSiT), I've seen first-hand how our journey towards these certifications has helped us to reflect on how we address ESG and improve our approach towards sustainability. By collecting data on our own performance and taking guidance from external auditors and organisations, we have been able to set realistic targets for OSiT's environmental progress and hold ourselves accountable to these goals.
To improve the sustainability of their business practices, building operators should first understand the threats posed by properties to our planet today. Office space providers must make sure that everybody across their team, from senior management down, is well-educated in sustainability practices by offering regular training sessions and events. To ensure that a workspace is as green as it can be, all of the occupants - employees and tenants - should put their best foot forward to reduce their carbon footprint. At OSiT, for example, we provide our tenants with the opportunity to take part in 30-minute educational sessions, which offer advice on how to promote sustainability in their own lives and in the running of their businesses.
Key to achieving continuous environmental progress is the implementation of data-driven, realistic targets, developed by building operators and administered across the board by building managers. For those operators that own their property portfolio, consistent and comprehensive progress relies on maintaining a regular, transparent dialogue with the teams involved in the daily running of the offices. For those who lease their buildings, a strong relationship with the property landlord is vital when developing new initiatives and setting out sustainability goals. It may be a fallacy that the grass is always greener on the other side, but this shouldn’t mean that the future can’t always be that little bit more verdant. It isn’t enough for offices to set out certain environmental goals and meet them: building operators should continue to challenge themselves to reach new levels of sustainability and go even further in our collective move towards net zero.