What you can do if you're a business with a lease
Your efforts to green your business do not need to be hampered by the fact that your office has a lease.
In fact, the National Green Leasing Policy is one way in which your business can reduce its electricity prices and is available nationally through the Australian, state and territory governments.
This sets out some rules, goals and guidelines for landlords and tenants alike that can help to reduce the building's carbon footprint.
A green lease handbook was created by the Department of Industry in order to help tenants and encourage them to implement more efficient practices into their businesses.
What is a green lease?
A green lease focuses on ecologically sustainable development (ESD) principles that serve the purpose of encouraging both tenant and landlord to achieve energy efficiency and other sustainability goals throughout the lifespan of the lease.
On the other hand, a conventional lease makes no mention of how either party could help to reduce the impact of the building on the environment.
The green lease contract should include information outlining exactly what environmental measures need to be taken under the lease and set out how each party will co-operate to achieve these goals.
This could include improving the NABERS (National Australian Built Environment Rating System) energy rating system grade, retrofitting older buildings and installing meters so tenants can monitor energy and water consumption.
NABERS is most commonly used by landlords with a green lease set up and is used to measure the performance of a building where energy efficiency, waste management, indoor environment quality and water usage are concerned.
Why have a green lease agreement rather than a conventional contract?
Both landlord and tenant can benefit from a relationship that focuses on common vision and mutual benefit rather than on the more traditional adversarial contract between the two parties.
Landlords and tenants can decide to include green leasing concepts into a conventional property lease or can include them as an additional schedule in the lease contract.
Here is how the tenant and landlord can benefit.
What are the advantages of green leasing for tenants?
Those who hold a lease on a building can benefit from cost savings, in particular from lower electricity bills as well as building costs.
Waste management, air conditioning and water usage may be cheaper for these businesses, which certainly makes this kind of lease worth considering.
Plus, by having a green lease, a company can demonstrate it is doing the best thing where the environment, employees and community are concerned.
The improved reputation the company will gain from being more socially responsible could have a follow-on effect with better staff retention rates and improved employee wellbeing. This could result in an improved level of productivity as well as a reduced rate of absenteeism as employees are more content in their jobs.
A green building may also provide you with an incentive to stay in the same location, which will mean you see a reduced cost overall as you may not need to shift offices at the end of your lease term.
What benefits will landlords experience?
Not only will landlords have happier tenants that are willing to remain in the building for a longer stretch of time, but energy efficient changes could have financial benefits.
Green lease buildings often bring with them improved rent, reduced outgoings and lower vacancy numbers.
Since equipment will be used in a green manner, it may require less maintenance and have a longer lifespan.
What other changes can tenants make to reduce their energy use?
On top of the bigger changes made through the green lease, tenants can also alter their behaviour to reduce the amount they spend on electricity prices.
This includes small changes such as turning off all equipment at the wall when they leave the building or using desk lights rather than whole floor lighting.
Here are some other tips to help you see further savings.
Ensure equipment and appliances are switched off if the building is going to be unoccupied for a long stretch of time, for example over the Christmas and summer breaks.
When you are turning these items off - even overnight - flick them off at the wall rather than turning them on standby mode as this will also help you see savings.
Do an electricity comparison as your business might be entitled to a better deal if you switch to another electricity supplier.
If you need to purchase new electrical items, get the most energy efficient ones that will suit your needs as this could also help you save on your electricity prices since they require less power to run.
Posted by Liam Tunney.