High Performace Office Space Tenant Improvements – Who Pays?

Did you know that commercial office buildings account for over 41% of the Nation’s energy consumption and 40% of carbon pollution?  Additionally, tenant spaces are responsible for half of an office buildings total energy use.  If buildings owners and tenants could reduce energy consumption by 30% the U.S would save $6 billion in energy costs each year.

While there are processes and tools in place to change how we design. construct, maintain, and operate whole buildings such as Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), there are no active solutions to guide, control, and monitor the energy consumption of tenants that actually occupy the spaces within those buildings.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is trying to change that.  They have launched a project to collect energy usage from tenants and compare that against other tenants in the same office building.  They also believe that by changing how tenants select, design, build, and occupy office space operational and energy costs could be substantially reduced.

My Thoughts

I’m all for reducing energy consumption and carbon pollution by changing how tenants choose, design, and build out office spaces, however I wonder who will be responsible for the additional costs to do this and who benefits?

  1. Obviously our environment benefits
  2. The Nation’s energy consumption can be reduced
  3. Building owners benefit by saving money on operational and energy costs for their buildings
  4. Tenants will be seen as socially responsible however end up spending more money on tenant improvements from which buildings owners will benefit by having lower operation costs.

Typically when a tenant leases office space they are given a tenant improvement allowance to build out their space and landlords will do their best to give as little as possible.  To incent tenants to spend more money on tenant improvements to reduce energy consumption and costs I think landlords should pony up and share in these additional costs since they stand to financially benefit.

If building owners achieve 30% to 50% savings because of a tenants willingness to be socially responsible by building out green office spaces then the building owners should share these savings with their tenants.  

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