This is a transcript of an episode of the LeaseSmart Podcast.
Craig: Today, I wanted to speak on something close to my heart. It should be close to everybody’s heart because it will put more money in your pocket and make your business run better: it is called LEED.
L-E-E-D stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It may sound boring at first, but what it really means is that modern buildings with new technologies and building materials and methods, can be way better than older buildings. Especially in terms of indoor air quality, natural lighting, energy efficiency, less cost and less use of resources like water and electricity. Typically a LEED building is more comfortable. Your employees are more productive. It’s a big thing in the industry though there are still some pretty big companies out there that don’t know what it is. What’s interesting about LEED is you can actually go thru a certification process and get LEED ratings. It’s very expensive and it’s a very serious thing. They rate everything about your building and your site and your construction, from top to bottom. It’s actually very expensive to get like a LEED platinum rating. Some companies do it happily, so it’s money well spent. Other companies might follow the LEED recommendations, methods and materials but they don’t want to go through the process, so they may tell their tenants, “Hey, we built this to LEED standards even though it doesn’t have the LEED certification.” That’s fine too.
As a tenant, you would want to ask “How does this building stand regarding LEED certification and standards?”
Here are just a couple examples:
Natural Daylight. In the older buildings, they didn’t care that much about it. You might see somewhat obsolete buildings that have almost no windows in them. That’s crazy! It’s been proven over and over again that people are happier and more productive in spaces that have natural daylight coming in. In fact, I’ve seen studies where Walmart will put in skylights in their stores and people tend to linger in that area longer and buy more stuff. So it’s just irrefutable that natural daylight is a good thing. It’s funny that some people choose building A over building B thinking it’s all about the dollars per foot in rent, but they’re missing the bigger picture which is – “What is the cost of hiring and training and retaining employees, especially your best employees and sometimes they might not even know why they’re not so happy or use more sick days, etc. It’s all about the environment so you might well pay a little bit more for better space and you’ll actually make more money by lower turnover costs and less employee training. You don’t want to let the tail wag the dog and you don’t want to always be thinking about that.
Other LEED features.
With some companies, they’ll go into a LEED building just for the environmental reasons because it’s the right thing to do. You need to know that, and that’s good too. Also, I’ve read studies about mold. You know 99 out of a 100 people can breath a certain amount of mold in the air and have no problem at all, but then there’ll be that 1 person who has a severe reaction to it. Modern LEED buildings take air quality very seriously. They duct in certain amount of fresh air or have windows that actually open when the weather’s right. Also, they use low VOC paints and carpets. VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. In the old days of course when you put in a new carpet you could smell it. Actually there’s nothing good about the smell the new carpet or a new car. That is pure poison. For that new car’s smell it may be better to park it out in the sun, roll the windows down and as soon as possible get that smell out of there or at lease drive around with your outdoor air on. Anyway, indoor air quality is huge in buildings, as is lighting and efficiency.
Some of these LEED buildings for instance, they collect their rain water and use it to flush toilets, use to irrigate landscaping, and of course they use landscaping that is more natural and easy to maintain.
Natalie: Oh yeah zero-scaping.
C: Exactly! It’s really the modern way of doing things. It is a better way. People should be aware of it if they care about their own health and the health of their employees.
So that’s what LEED is. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and you should ask about it and see what the landlord says.
N: Yeah! I bet you can give a pretty good approximation to your clients as they’re looking and comparing building A with building B. This one might be $20,000 more but you could give them an estimate of how much they’re actually going be saving against that $20,000.
C: It could be done. I’ve never gotten that far. Frankly, that’s out of my area of expertise. The company knows its own cost of hiring and retaining and training top quality employees. I guess they call them knowledge workers nowadays and there’s a short supply of those.
By the way, I didn’t mention another big thing which I’ve always thought was odd: When you build a building and all 4 sides are identical, that’s not actually practical in terms of heat-gain and energy efficiency. The sun rises and sets slightly south to the horizon whether you’re north of the equator, and the way sunlight and heat enter the building is entirely different from north, south, east and west exposures. So if you want to build an efficient building, pay attention to the world around you. You would base your building on some passive solar design. I have a building I built this way and my biggest glass windows face directly south. They have just the right overhang so that in the summer, no sun comes into the windows but in the winter when the sun is lower to the horizon, all kinds of sun and heat come into the windows. We call that heat gain and it’s a beautiful thing. You can walk into the building and even thought it’s freezing out, the building’s warm and you haven’t even turn the heat on.
N: Oh nice!
C: Yeah! That type of thing should be done in all buildings. Pay attention to which direction is north, south , east, and west. Obviously views are important too, just don’t forget to take advantage of the rising and setting sun. Then, insulation is also a part of LEED.
LEED is an important feature in picking one space over another. This is mostly worker space like office space but also in retail as I mentioned. Natural lighting and skylights can help your sales, so check it out.