A developer could build an energy efficient building that also utilises groundwater and rainwater recycling systems and photovoltaic panels, etc.  But the local community is disgruntled because it is leased to national brands that have increased competition for local businesses.  Or vehicular traffic has increased as people come in droves in their cars.  Or the business units sit empty because the building's location is unattractive to businesses.  Is the building sustainable?  Or does a sustainable building include collaboration with end users, the community, and other stakeholders?  In what other ways should a building be sustainability?  What are your views?

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Hi Bonnie and thanks for this. I recommend you send private messages to engage with selected members of the Green Buildings & Sustainability group on CREOpoint like:

- Leanne Tobias
- Helen Banks
- Lisa Michelle Galley
- Chris Davis
- Martha Pascal
- Thad Seligman
- Sven Dekker

Hope that helps, JC
Thanks. It would be great to hear the group members' thoughts and have the opportunity to share on this forum.

I have to commend you on your choice of words - sustainable vs. green.

After reading your comments I sense that you are mixing two related but different concepts - sustainable buildings and sustainability strategies.

A meaningful sustainability strategy must address three systems - social, economic, and environmental. Building a successful strategy requires a stakeholder engagement model. A good model addresses transparency, inclusion, collaboration, and consensus. From here you can bring stakeholders together so that you can define sustainability for each system as it relates to the project.

Hence your scenario is unsustainable because it ignored the stakeholders. Starting with a stakeholder model would have mitigated the issues you pose in your scenario.

The traffic and occupancy issues are mutually shared problems between the develop and tenant. The tenant contributes to this problem through their portfolio planning, site selection process, workplace strategy, and HR policies. The developer contributes through the speculative nature of his business.

Building performance is a factor in determining its sustainability but it is not the only factor. It is also not the most significant factor. If you view the building from a lifecycle perspective, you'll find that developing new space creates a significant environmental debt that takes decades to pay back. Thus the only sustainable building is one that is never built.

This leads to an important question. Why was the building built in the first place? Was there a portfolio plan or workplace strategy that dictated the tenant's need for this building? In reality, this is often the case. Unfortunately portfolio planning and workplace strategies forecast more space than is needed because they do not account for the way people work.

This translates into assigned space being 50% - 70% vacant. Here's another way of looking at this. Occupancy rate = 95% while utilization is 30% - 50%.

From a tenant's perspective, a more sustainable strategy would be to consolidate the portfolio into higher performing building based on utilization. Reduce consumption by changing policies, processes, and practices. Next improve building efficiency. Then invest in alternative energy.

Let me apply these concepts to a real-life project. My team was asked to consolidate a client's regional portfolio. The company had 30 buildings in this portfolio. 28 of these buildings were leased. The company was in a hyper-growth mode.

We created a solution that reduced their portfolio by 12 buildings while accommodating their growth needs. We were able to reduce the environmental footprint of the remaining portfolio by 14% without any initial investment. We were able to reduce the employee footprint by 20%. We increased employee work-life balance and organizational effectives. We also reduced operating costs.

We used a Lean - Six-sigma based process. We started the process by identifying and engaging stakeholders creating a transparent, inclusive, and collaborative process.

The results were astounding. The project was embraced by all the stakeholders. We reduced the project budget by 20%. Reduced the development cycle (start of design to go-live) by 50%. The project received national recognition. We exceeded our environmental sustainability targets with no budget for sustainability.

None of this required any "rocket science". It did require a more holistic way of thinking, an affirmative approach, and thoughtful planning.


George Gosieski
Chair, Corenet Global Sustainability Community
Chair, Sustainable Commercial Real Estate Consortium


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Sustainable buildings - beyond green 3 Replies

Started by Bonnie O. Wong. Last reply by George Gosieski Apr 15, 2010.

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