Achieving sustainability goals in a multi-tenant office building

Ever met a child who didn’t want to win a competition, or even just be the best at something they love? That winner-driven mentality has stuck with most adults you see around you – possibly yourself included. Our competitive instincts can be traced back to our early ancestors, who had to compete for food, shelter and everything needed to survive. You could say that the desire to win runs in our DNA.

When we win, we produce more dopamine; the feel-good hormone that makes us believe we’re on top of the world – even if just for a moment. When we feel it once, we want to feel it again.

What does this have to do with our buildings? More than you think. 

Using a community-based approach to sustainability

We all want (and need) sustainable buildings. But even if we implement all the necessary improvements, we partially depend on the cooperative spirit of our occupiers. If they leave the radiators burning hot during the weekends, energy will go wasted, no matter how many renewable resources we have. Multi-let office buildings often have occupiers with varying priorities, energy consumption patterns and operational practices. This diversity is logical and unavoidable, but it can make implementing sustainable practices uniformly throughout the building difficult.

And that’s where that dopamine-triggered desire to win comes in – and how adapting a community-based approach becomes both interesting and possible.

Strategies for success

There are quite a few strategies that will help us achieve sustainability goals in multi-let office buildings. Offering incentives to occupiers actively participating in sustainability initiatives, such as helping them reduce their costs, promoting ESG activities, aligning with their own ESG goals (such as a low-energy office), or sharing their progress in magazines, will offer the needed external motivation. Surely the marketing department will be delighted.

When we implement building monitoring systems that allow us to track individual tenant energy usage and identify waste areas, this information can help everyone discover areas for improvement. Allowing occupiers to compare and benchmark their own energy performance against their neighbours will help to highlight best practices, flag issues, provide much-needed context for their data, and, maybe most motivating, keep their heads in the race. Adding some healthy competition (is KPN leading the Sustainability Challenge this month, or has Adecco taken the lead?) will continue to drive the efforts without too much involvement.

Reaping the benefits of a community-based approach

Feeling part of a larger effort to reduce environmental impact might influence how occupiers feel about their office. And let’s be honest: a sustainable office is a comfortable one. Working as a community towards a Grade-A sustainable building can reduce energy consumption – and increase overall building value in the long run.

Achieving sustainability goals in multi-let office buildings may present challenges, but the benefits outweigh the difficulties. It doesn’t just contribute to a greener future: it also just makes good business sense.