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5 Ways to Save Money on Commercial Property While Going Green

Owning commercial property can be a very expensive proposition. Even though fairly good money is realized from the rents paid by tenants a large portion of that is taken away due to maintenance, leaving behind a very thin net profit. It can be even tougher if not all the space in the building is rented out. Landlords are always looking for ways to either cut or contain maintenance costs. Very few look to green alternatives for cost control and that is unfortunate. Going green is not necessarily a hippie Woodstock way of managing things. In fact, it is entirely possible for a landlord to reduce his or her carbon footprint and save money at the same time. There are a number of possible strategies and here are just a few:

1. Conduct an energy audit. Most commercial buildings are not designed to make use of the current solar panel technology, but that doesn't mean that these structures cannot be energy efficient. Public utilities are quite willing to do an energy audit that will give the owner an indication of how much energy is being used, and provide suggestions as to how to save money by efficiently decreasing energy use (e.g. not having the air- conditioning on in offices 24/7).

2. Routine furnace and duct inspections. The furnace and heating systems of the building are major energy users. The ducts may become clogged over time and block heat from coming out into office surfaces, or spring leaks that drain heated air into unused space. Routine inspections assure that the furnace is operating efficiently and the ducts are clear and not leaking necessary heat.

3. Consider using compact fluorescent lights. This particular idea does have an upfront cost, because compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs, cost more than the ordinary light bulbs. However, they use considerably less energy and the lifecycle of a CFL is far longer than that of an ordinary light bulb. The bottom line is that a CFL will more than pay for its initial cost with more efficient use of energy over a longer period of time.

4. Make use of low flow faucets and toilets. These use less water than the standard plumbing apparatus.

5. Investigate all government and public utility incentives and programs. It may sound odd to some people, but public utilities are increasingly more disposed to helping people make their properties greener. The same is true for government at all levels. A few phone calls and e-mails will alert any commercial property owner to initiatives and cost incentives that will not only leave a smaller carbon footprint, but also help the owner save money on energy use and maintenance costs.

Commercial property owners can also pare down energy costs by a program of routinely educating business tenants on the benefits of going green in the office area. Incentives can be offered to the tenants such as a reduction in rent if the tenant has been able to cut energy costs with green strategies. Going green is a way in which a property owner can help protect the environment and reduce the negative impact of carbon use. It can also be a way that the same landlord can be more efficient and save money. Green is definitely a smart and cost efficient business strategy, and commercial property owners can use green techniques and strategies to make their buildings even more profitable.


Jared Diamond writes on topics ranging from real estate investments to environmental sustainability. Contributions to this article were made with the expertise of the Cleveland Commercial Real Estate firm Chelm Properties