If your organization is considering moving or retrofitting its existing offices, why not "go green"? As the environmental impact of buildings becomes more apparent, a new field called "green building" is gaining momentum. Building a green or sustainable building or retrofitting existing space is basically the practice of creating and using healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation and maintenance. Green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact on human health and the environment by protecting human health (lower levels of volatile organic compounds are used, more natural light is included) and to allow for the efficient use of energy, water and other resources. Other intangible benefits of green or sustainable buildings are greater employee satisfaction, increased productivity and reduced sick days.
Additional benefits in moving to or converting existing space into green space may be lower operating expenses, less potable water use, improved indoor environmental quality and potential tax credits. For these reasons, organizations should consider going green. Whether you are building your own building, renting space from a landlord in a yet-to-be-built office or negotiating with your landlord to retrofit existing space, consider incorporating some or all of the following into your space: reflective roofs, green roofs, geothermal wells, wind and solar power, interior bio walls, radiant floor heating, sunshades, and the use of recycled materials.
While green buildings often have increased construction costs, these costs can be recouped through operation and maintenance savings incurred over the life of the building. While the intricacies of actually drafting and negotiating a "green lease" may be the subject of another article, keep the idea in mind when you are considering new space or retrofitting existing space.