Step 1: Establish Vision and Obtain Commitments

To ensure alignment between all stakeholders, owners should ascertain why they want to implement sustainability measures in their buildings and create a clear sustainability vision statement. They should also work with the building management team to assess feasibility and cultivate commitment among the building management team and tenants. (If the building is part of a portfolio, it’s possible the sustainability vision was established at the corporate and/or portfolio level and should be adopted by the building management team.)

Consider the following criteria while developing a vision statement and obtaining commitments for the building sustainability effort.

Determine the end game.

The Ownership Team should identify, focus on and communicate specifics about what they intend to achieve and why they are launching the sustainability initiative. Many building owners engage in green initiatives in order to: 

  • Lower electricity and operating costs
  • Market the building as “green” space to potential tenants
  • Find deep energy cost savings of 30–40% – which requires taking a whole-building approach
  • Reduce the net impact the building has on community resources
  • Attain a LEED® certification and/or ENERGY STAR® label. Click here to learn more about building certification programs.
  • Reduce water, gas, and solid waste

Address common sustainability program constraints.

Before finalizing the vision, preemptively address the issues that might prevent the sustainability initiative from being successful. Answering the following questions should help to set attainable expectations:

  • How much capital is available for implementing specific measures?
  • What are the owners’ financial expectations?

o  What payback period is required?

o  Is the owner willing to accept longer payback in return for greater long-term annual savings through a whole-building approach? Or do the investments need to show immediate benefits?

  • Are financial incentives or financing support available for the right opportunities?

Address common sustainability program constraints.

  • Does the Building Management Team have the time, capacity and/or incentive to implement this initiative in addition to what they are already doing?
  • What is the overall timing or duration of this effort? 

o  Do investments need to be fully paid back before an anticipated future building sales date?

o  Does the money for investments need to come out of a particular year’s budget?

  • What contractors, such as engineers or financial analysts, are available to support the effort?
  • How should the owner involve existing and prospective tenants in the initiative?

Draft and validate the vision.

Once the Ownership Team is clear on why it is embarking on a sustainability effort and has addressed some of the common issues, it can create a simple vision or set of guidelines to define the effort and gain commitment from the building management leadership team. Here’s an example of a vision statement for an individual property:

We will adopt sustainable business policies, processes and equipment investments that will enable us to achieve LEED Silver status. By doing so, we will increase the value of our building, improve our tenant experience, reduce our net operating costs by at least 5% per year and reduce the impact our building has on the environment and our shared resources.

To validate the vision, the owner (who might be represented by the building’s Asset Manager), should review it with the Building Management Team and key tenants to gain buy-in, and, if needed, appropriately revise it.

Next: Engage your building team >