The practice of retrofitting buildings with environmentally friendly technology like more-efficient boilers and better-quality windows has been around for years, but it is right now when a growing numbers of businesses are implementing green retrofits to improve their bottom line and obtain environmental and employee health benefits.

Contrary to the conception that a green retrofit costs more than a conventional, and the expected ROI will not be substantial – research indicates, “there is no significant difference in average costs for green buildings as compared to non-green building” (Cost of Green Revisit, David Langdon, 2007) hence investments in the sustainability of commercial buildings are economically viable.

I know, you might be thinking that most environmental services charge a premium – this is true if you only look the capital costs, there is a cost premium for green, but when you extend your definition of the value added, such as productivity increases and better retention, you will find that it’s actually cheaper to go green.

Indeed, companies that have received either LEED-EB or LEED-CI certification corroborate that even though the main benefits expected from the green retrofit were reducing overhead costs of energy and increasing energy efficiency – a number of others benefits unrelated to real estate and facilities costs have been derived.

For example, enhanced reputation benefits, corporate social responsibility, greater indoor and environmental quality, higher employee productivity, higher occupancy rates, greater overall building value, and a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) liability have been some of the innumerable benefits that come from building retrofits with sustainable practices.  These facilities have also experienced the direct savings in operational costs from the tax credit exemptions and other regulatory incentives as well as the credit or reduction in insurance premium for a LEED certified building.

So, I would say that the implementation of green building practices has transformed from a specialty market sector to one that is being deemed across every building market – green retrofits are really coming into the mainstream fairly quickly. Especially now that many more facility managers recognize  the benefits of LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance (LEED-EBOM) certification.

There’s a huge buy-in from the industry and, as more and more tenants demand energy and water efficiency in clean, healthy buildings that have plenty of natural daylight, today’s “conventional” buildings certainly become tomorrow’s obsolete ones. I believe that timing for going green is important since it is a point of competitive differentiation. Indeed, LEED-certified buildings are becoming “Tenants’ Preferred Choice”.

Smart companies are finding that greening their businesses can help them develop a competitive advantage as energy costs rise and consumer demand for all things green grows. From a business point of view, a focus on the environment is no longer optional. Virtually every company and every industry face environmental issues that are business imperatives.

So what are you waiting for greening your business – do you plan to incorporate green elements into your future projects? If so, the first step is to establish a baseline assessing existing processes and conducting an audit to obtain the metrics to implement profitable green practices in the areas of energy usage; water usage; waste water generated; and materials usage and waste minimization. Second, your team needs to specify the methods to be implemented to reduce resources consumed, and waste generated and increase efficiencies.  Why not start with what many in the industry refers to as “the low hanging fruit” (HVAC, water flow systems (low-flush toilets), recycling containers and green cleaning) – the paybacks generally are very fast.

Let us know what kind of integrated green initiatives is your company executing into its corporate structure to obtain environmental and employee health benefits!

Post by Diana Esparza