Sustainable building means, first of all, to design, realise and manage a building in a way that is environmentally-friendly, cost-reducing and providing the best possible work conditions. It is important to note that this ideology also influences the way the building is being exploited. The group, which has to actively pit against green ideology are the object’s administrators.
Is it worth it to be „green”?
Does sustainable building and management pay off? Experts argue that yes. Applying “green” solutions influences most of all the mood of the employees, which directly translates to their efficiency and effectiveness. In consequence, the tenants pay close attention to the conditions found in building they want to lease. They are becoming more and more aware that optimum conditions in the offices mean less sick leaves for the employees. According to the Green Outlook 2011 report, made by McGraw-Hill company, the effectiveness of the employees in a “green” building is 42% higher. The tenants also do not forget the costs of running an office. Modern solutions are energy-saving, which means that they lessen costs of electricity and water usage. International corporations and smaller, aware companies also notice the prestige connected to having their office in an ecological building. It stresses company’s concern with pro-ecological actions and with caring for the employee’s comfort.
Proper management is important
The key to good results in energy-saving and efficiency of the systems, used in the object, is proper management of the building. This is why the role of the manager is so important in green office buildings. What should the manager take into consideration?
First of all, it is important to analyse the usage of electricity in the building, as well as proper administration of water . The manager is also responsible for the administration of the waste and for the proper functioning of the systems installed in the object. It is important to stress, that management run in accordance with the idea of sustainable building is not only valid in the case of new buildings, having LEED or BREEAM certificates. In older buildings, proper management and renovating them so that the new technologies can be used can lead to greater comfort for their users and lesser operating costs.
First things first – energy and water
The level of electricity consumed is an important factor influencing the operating costs. The base for proper energy management is a restrictive control of its usage. The newest publication of Colliers International, Zielony Poradnik dla Najemców, presents a few ways to control media usage, based on operational plan. It anticipates creating a description of proper usage of all the systems in the building, mechanical and electric ones; setting precise guidelines for the schedule of using the appliances in weekday, weekend and seasonal cycle; analysis and optimisation the schedule of lighting usage.
The administrator, to efficiently lessen energy usage needs not only prepare previously described operational plan. A BMS (Building Management System) also needs to be installed, as it helps to monitor and control the media. Additionally, regular maintenance of mechanisms and appliances needs to be done, and contact with providers of renewable energy has to be established.
An issue, directly connected to the media is the management of water resources of the company. The administrator should install the meters and monitor and analyse the water usage. As Colliers experts note, it is important to immediately react when a leakage is found or other problems arise. Water usage can also be lessened by installing modern solutions, such as photocell-controlled washbasin, systems of greywater recycling, waterless urinals, dual flush cisterns. In sustainable object it is important to use green elements, such as flowers, however, it is worth to invest in plants which do not require frequent watering.
The next step – the waste
Effective management of waste can also influence the level of savings. It is important to note garbage segregation. The administrator can make segregation containers available to the tenants. Subcontractors can also be helpful, as they will inform us how much trash is being collected and segregated.
The issue of waste is directly connected to the cleaning, done in the object. The administrator can check the products, used by a cleaning company. As Colliers’ publication advises, the cleaning company can be asked to use only natural products, which do not contain solvents, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, pesticides and hydrocarbons. It is favourable if the products used had been environmentally certified.
Inform the tenant
The role of the administrator does not end with proper, environmentally-friendly actions. It is also important to, at the same time, educate tenants of the place and inform them how they can lessen operating costs, improve their employees’ comfort and care for the environment. The administrator’s task is also to care for the cleanliness and availability of parking spaces for bicycles, and of changing rooms and showers for their users. If the object does not have such commodities, it is worth showing the tenants how does the city transport work and where the nearest stops are located.
While concerned about working conditions, it is necessary to care about air quality. It is not enough only to provide working air-conditioning and ventilation systems. The administrator should also ban smoking in the building’s area and its surroundings and provide special places for the people smoking.
When will introducing sustainable ideology work? Especially when the administrators’ actions will be consistent. It is not enough for the building to have energy-saving solutions and water-saving toilets in order to be called “green”. For the process to work properly, an involvement of the tenants is needed, however, they often do not use these types of buildings accordingly.