distribution warehouse building

Why Would An Industrial Building Owner Consider Green Building Certification?

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There’s an exploding number of green building certifications. You’re probably familiar with LEED®, but there’s also WELL (which focuses on healthy indoor spaces), BREEAM (which comes from the UK and is the most popular green building certification worldwide), ENERGY STAR® (which offers a popular tool for rating building energy consumption), and many others. All of these are ways to compare or rate the “green-ness” of buildings, and it seems like there’s a new one every day!

But rather than bore you with the details of each rating system, which you can find elsewhere, I’d like to ask what I think is an important question: why would a building owner, particularly an industrial building owner, operating distribution warehouses and factories, even consider a green building certification? After all, it’s not required and it’s a lot of work. So why take it on?

To find out more, I spoke to one of the largest developers and owners of industrial properties, Liberty Property Trust, and their head of corporate sustainability, Billy Grayson. Liberty Property Trust owns 103 million square feet of space throughout the United States and the United Kingdom.

It’s really pretty simple. Based on his extensive experience working with industrial tenants and facility managers, Billy broke down the industrial market’s interest in green building rating like this:

  • 25% see multiple benefits in a LEED®-certified distribution warehouse: reduced operational costs, healthier buildings, better for the planet, tenant attractiveness, and marketing advantages
  • 50% think it’s sort of cool, but wouldn’t pay extra or make a big deal of it
  • 25% see sustainability requirements, green cleaning, no smoking, etc., as a burden. However, some (but not all) of these owners and facility managers come around once they see the reduced operational costs.

Still, even for those opposed, he pointed out that there are elements of a rated building that work for all customers. Most notably, taking a building through a green rating process generally means improved energy and water efficiency, which translates to lower operating expenses. And the additional requirements, including commissioning the building envelope and HVAC systems, can mean enhanced durability, resilience, and a reduction in maintenance issues. There can even be an advantage in the required building operations manual, which becomes a useful resource for those running the building.

To sum up, a significant segment of the industrial marketplace will respond to the marketing and operational value of LEED®, ENERGY STAR®, and other certifications. Rating a building under these programs may also help meet corporate sustainability goals, which is especially important if the building is part of the supply chain for a large retailer with published sustainability mission statements, such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, or Target. Improved employee health and wellness, an area of increased focus for many industrial customers, can also be a benefit.

So while the business case for rating an industrial warehouse isn’t always a slam dunk, the combination of tenant marketing benefits, telling a better story to the supply chain, and operational cost reductions mean it makes sense in more and more situations. For the professional roofing contractor, programs like GAF’s Zero Waste Jobsite roof recycling program, as well as energy-efficiency improvements possible with added insulation and cool roofing, will likely add to the attractiveness of your bid when calling on industrial property owners and managers interested in sustainability.


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