Research Shows How to Make Commercial Buildings More Energy-Efficient
Getting a green building certification is only half the battle when it comes to making commercial buildings more sustainable and energy-efficient. In a newly published paper in the journal Energy Economics titled, “Beyond building certification: The impact of environmental interventions on commercial real estate operations”, researchers show that behaviour-focused “soft interventions” can be as effective as technical building engineering interventions when it comes to lowering energy consumption and making buildings more sustainable.
The paper was co-authored by Avis Devine, Associate Professor at Schulich’s Brookfield Centre in Real Estate & Infrastructure; Jim Clayton, Director and Timothy R. Price Chair at the Brookfield Centre in Real Estate & Infrastructure; and Rogier Holtermans, an Assistant Professor of Real Estate Finance at the University of Guelph. The study was funded through a grant from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) under the U.S. Department of Energy and the Real Estate Research Institute (RERI), as well as by BentallGreenOak, a leading global real estate investment management advisor and provider of real estate services with more $53 billion USD in assets under management.
“In commercial real estate, we often measure environmental building sustainability in terms of green building certification or building energy labels,” said Prof. Devine. “However, as sustainability in the built world advances, so too do our tools. Today, sustainable buildings utilize a number of environmental interventions – both ‘hard’, or technical, interventions such as building certifications and environmentally-focused capital expenditures, and ‘soft’ behavioral interventions such as monitoring software and tenant engagement programs. To understand the impact of environmental interventions on building operations, we have to move past certifications to include other intervention types as well.”
The study analyzed ten years of asset-level operating statement and electricity consumption data in Canadian and U.S. office buildings, measuring both the initial impact of such interventions as well as any adjustments observed over time.