Managing a building sustainably

Managing a building sustainably

Commercial Buildings - A Sustainable Approach

The ability to make a difference within the built environment is actually huge.  Buildings are directly responsible for 40% of energy use in Ireland, and an estimated 1.5 million homes in Ireland need retrofitting. Apart from ‘doing the right thing’, there are now very compelling financial reasons to want to ‘Go Green’.

The benefits of “greener buildings” are obvious to us all if we actually think about it. Study after study has shown that greener buildings are better for our health, and increase our performance at work.  They say that 90% of our lives are spent indoors, and so the quality of our homes and workplaces has an obvious lasting impact on our health.

The concept of ‘WELL’ buildings are part of the second ‘wave’ of sustainability - part of the health and wellbeing initiative.  Health and Wellbeing has been described as the next 'trillion dollar industry' by Mckinsey. Research on health and wellbeing has been increasing over the last few years and has given rise to the WELL Building Standard - launched in 2013 in the US and 2015 in the UK. With positive impacts on asset values in real estate, shopping revenues in retail, patient recovery in healthcare and student performance in education, designing for health and wellbeing is becoming more and more important.  Astonishingly, 90% of a typical companies costs are actually on their staffs salaries, with only about 1% typically spent on energy.

The work of the World Green Building Council has produced several report that outline the benefits of ‘green’ buildings to increase staff performance by 8% and reduce absenteeism by 35%. They also found that office workers with windows at their desks typically sleep for 46 mins more a night than those who don’t!

A low-carbon building has a low carbon footprint and a big carbon handprint.

carbon footprint analysis covers a building’s entire life cycle. It includes the manufacture and transportation of the products used in a construction project, the worksite, the use and maintenance of the building, its demolition, and recycling.

carbon handprint analysis incorporates the net benefits of climate impact that would not arise if there were no construction project. These might be the building’s carbon storages and sinks, the extra renewable energy produced during the building’s life cycle, and the benefits gained from the reuse and recycling of the construction products.

The Finish Ministry of the Environment published a roadmap to low-carbon construction, which describes a method employed in Finland for the whole life carbon assessment of buildings. The method is based on the European Commission’s Level(s) method and European Standards. The method is intended to be used for the assessment of the carbon footprint and carbon handprint of new buildings and buildings undergoing extensive repairs.

Read the full report here.

The EPD Ireland programme allows manufacturers of construction products to provide 3rd party verified transparent information on the environmental impacts of their products. It provides a platform for specifiers to source products with Environmental Product Declarations and other information such as responsible procurement or declaration of healthy ingredients.

Find out more at

Benefits for Commercial Sustainability

For the landlord:
• Asset value is maintained.
• Increased rental returns due to lower building operating costs.
• Enhances the appeal of buildings to high calibre tenants.
• Trend towards Green Securitisation.

For the tenant:
• Framework to lower building operating costs.
• Sharing the investment cost, to reach energy efficiency
• Sustainable workplaces increase productivity and satisfaction.
• Encourages a relationship of collaboration, to meet corporate
social responsibility objectives.

Irish Goals and Progress

Ireland is part of a collective EU pledge to this Agreement
The EU has committed to reducing GHG’s (on 1990 levels) by:-
1. 20% by 2020 (we have failed to meet this)
2. 40% by 2030, and
3. Between 80-95% by 2050

The energy intensity per square meter of the global buildings sector needs to improve on average by 30% by 2030 (compared to 2015) to be on track to meet global climate ambitions set forth in the Paris Agreement.

In Ireland, over the period 2000 to 2014 there was a 19.4% improvement in energy efficiency in the overall economy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Green Leases are now seen as a critical element in sustainable development.

In very broad terms, they are leases which contain specific provisions in relation to the future sustainable operation of property and buildings.

These can include measures relating to energy efficiency, waste reduction, waste management, water efficiency and so on, as well as social and ethical issues.

They are used for leases on commercial or public buildings, whether new, newly refurbished or existing, and typically include obligations for both landlords and tenants.

Basically a Green Lease contains the traditional landlord/tenant obligations plus additional clauses to create, protect or enhance the property Energy Performance Rating.

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