Sustainability and the property industry
Posted March 19, 2012, by Aziza Green
The dynamic property industry has a wealth of opportunities for anyone who is driven to succeed. The industry now also provides opportunities to make a lasting difference to the planet for future generations. With sustainability becoming the buzzword of our times, professionals from architects to property managers are championing the cause of environmental responsibility.
An appreciation of how finite our natural resources are has prompted national and international focus on reducing waste and unnecessary damage to the environment. By focusing on moderating the consumption of natural resources, professionals in the real estate industry can make a difference to the environment as well as align their organisations with the message of sustainability, creating a positive profile in the process.
Specialists in every facet of the property industry can incorporate sustainability into their approach. Sustainability can be integrated into the design of commercial and residential buildings, reducing waste and lowering the consumption of natural resources such as energy and water.
Green design and development
One of the most radical initiatives introduced to help develop a sustainable property industry in Australia was the establishment of the Green Building Council. With 2012 being the ten-year anniversary since its launch, the Green Building Council has driven the adoption of green building practices in the property industry through market-based solutions.
The Green Building Council developed a Green Star environment rating system for buildings in 2003. The Green Star rating tools are designed to help businesses reduce the environmental impact of buildings, improve occupant health and productivity, and achieve real cost savings. This tool can be used in a variety of sectors, including commercial offices (through their design, construction and interior fit-outs), retail centres, schools and universities, multi-unit residential dwellings, industrial facilities and public buildings. The Green Building Council has reached a landmark of 400 certified Green Star building projects since the program began in 2004.
Green lease agreements are another development to facilitate sustainability in the property industry. Property managers and landlords can use green leases to work with tenants to maximise the sustainable elements of the building that they live or work in. Property managers and tenants can negotiate an agreement whereby the tenant agrees to use energy-rated major electrical equipment, reduce electricity and water consumption, and recycle and manage other waste responsibly. In exchange, the property manager agrees to manage the building’s mechanical systems to conserve energy, install water fixtures to reduce water consumption, operate an effective recycling program and more. The combined efforts of the tenant and the owner or property manager not only reduce the impact of everyday living and working on the environment, but can also represent cost savings on water and electricity for the tenant.
The property industry has an important role to play in environmental sustainability. It can significantly reduce the negative impact that a new building has on the environment over time by integrating sustainable features into the design and construction of new buildings. Retrofitting existing buildings with green features is another way that sustainability can be implemented.
With constant development in the area of sustainability in property, architecture and development, it is now possible to integrate your desire to make a difference in the world with your passion for buildings.