Tag Archives: LEED

Leasing Green

Retail tenants and their landlords have been slow to think about going green. Retail leasing has been about square footage and location, not sustainable design or building operation. But that’s about to change, thanks to the new Green Retail Guide, developed jointly by the USGBC and Portland, Oregon-based Green Building Services (GBS).

I talked recently to Nina Tallering, Manager of Verification Program Development at GBS, who has overseen the development of the Guide.

Why have retailers gotten interested in sustainability?
Tallering: For some retailers, it goes with their mission of being good stewards. Then they see the benefit of energy or water savings—there have been amazing results. Other retailers feel they’ll be more competitive by doing it. Even though retail has been slower to pick up than commercial, office, or public buildings, once retailers decide to do something, they do it quickly.

How will the Guide help retailers?
Tallering: We recognized for the Guide to be useful, it couldn’t just be about leasing, but about the whole leasing process—the site/lease/building/operations process. There are LEED elements throughout the whole process. It’s a useful tool and provides awareness about the LEED requirements and integrating the sustainable goals of the retailer.

There’s a wide range of retail lease types and situations. Malls, lifestyle, power centers, with triple net, gross, land leases. There are a wide number of variables. This is applicable to all of them.

We hoped to target any retail tenant from the big boxes to the small mom-and-pops. There’s a difference in restaurants and apparel—they have different energy uses. We tried to make it applicable to any tenant.

How is green leasing different from conventional leasing?
Tallering: This is an opportunity for landlords and tenants to develop a different kind of relationship and work toward sustainable goals. It starts to foster better communication. It’s like integrated design—it’s easier to meet your goals. It’s the same in the landlord/tenant relationship. When goals are discussed, before the lease is signed, those conversations are going to foster a willingness to get LEED information into the lease and even to integrate more sustainability into operating practices.

It’s new territory for both sides. With landlords and real estate developers, in looking at tenant requirements that have to do with LEED, tenants aren’t sure how much is okay to ask for and what can make or break a deal. In retail, it’s been about location, location, location. We’re hoping that with more education, both retailer and landlord will recognize that even though location is crucial, other things can be appealing.

Are there other benefits of green leasing?
Tallering: When people see that green isn’t weird or crunchy, that the stores look the same, it goes a long way. When retailers talk to consumers, they educate them. And there’s brand loyalty born of sustainability. Green products or green buildings provide so much potential. When retailers spend time on stores, it makes financial sense.

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Defining Sustainability

Sustainability has multiple meanings. For people interested in commercial buildings, it tends to mean LEED and its standards and energy conservation, whether in energy use or building operations. I used to work for Honeywell’s commercial building business, so I can understand that point of view.

But I like to think of it as more than that. It’s about all the ways the buildings and their components can be reused, recycled and repurposed. Since leaving Honeywell, I’ve been looking at and writing about historic buildings, including Victorian mansions, homey 1920s commercial buildings, mid-century modern houses and offices, and recycled buildings of all kinds—warehouses, factories, and firehouses. I’ve come to feel that preservation is closely intertwined with sustainability.

But I like the new stuff, too. I’m fascinated by new ways to make buildings more energy efficient and sustainable, whether it’s in new ways of heating and cooling, in new materials for building, or in new practices to help a big building sit more lightly on its site. I’m grateful to the people who have created standards for construction and for building operation. I care about best practices, and LEED and GreenSeal are good roadmaps. And I have my eye on alternative energy sources—solar, wind, and geothermal.

So I’ll move around. I’ll write about LEED and HVAC; I’ll write about old buildings that have survived and are still beautiful as well as useful, and I’ll write about the newest in “green gizmos,” too, because they’re part of what makes a commercial building a sustainable one.

I look forward to hearing from my readers. Let me know about projects, or people, or products that have to do with commercial sustainability. A blog is a voracious animal and needs constant feeding to stay healthy.