How to Negotiate a Greener Office

By Laura Tam, Sustainable Development Policy Director
October 25, 2011
Photo courtesy Flickr user kalevkevad

Last week, the Bay Area's Business Council on Climate Change — which SPUR is a part of — released the Green Tenant Toolkit, an online resource for improving the sustainable performance of existing commercial buildings in San Francisco. The toolkit is designed to help commercial tenants, building owners and property managers collaborate to improve the energy efficiency and other sustainability metrics of their buildings. It is divided into three sections:

1. Green leases, including sample leases and key negotiation points in the leasing process;

2. Stakeholder engagement, which defines what the roles can be for owners, tenants and occupants in making buildings more green and outlines best practices in how they can interact and set goals;

3. Check lists, which include questions or metrics for understanding the sustainable performance of an existing building and identifying opportunities for the future. (For example, is electricity sub-metered? Does the building have solar panels?)

The toolkit was inspired by the recommendations of the Mayor’s Task Force on Existing Commercial Buildings (PDF), which completed its work and published a report (SPUR was a participant) in 2009. That report found that while San Francisco's green standards for new construction were high, sustainability performance standards and tools were especially needed for existing buildings because they comprise by far the majority of buildings that will be here in the future. Less than 1 percent of the city's buildings are newly constructed each year, which means it would take more than 60 years to “green” even half of San Francisco's building stock through new construction.

The commercial buildings task force proposed a voluntary goal of reducing the energy use in existing commercial buildings 50 percent by 2030, with an average reduction of 2.5 percent per year. The Green Tenant Toolkit is designed to help improve those spaces that are leased and may not be undergoing major renovations in the near future.

SPUR has also examined the challenges of resource efficiency for existing multi-tenant residential buildings, which are responsible for as much of our city's greenhouse gas emissions as commercial buildings. Multi-tenant residential buildings suffer some of the same challenges as multi-tenant office buildings, although leasing terms, capital improvement financing and regulations, among other things, are different.

The Green Tenant Toolkit is intended to evolve based on user feedback, so check it out and provide yours at www.greentenanttoolkit.com.

Explore the Green Tenant Toolkit >>