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Managers must watch building environment.

Managers must watch building environment

In today's depressed real estate market, property owners must do everything possible to be competitive for new tenants and retain existing tenants. Buildings can no longer rely purely on their location and esthetic appeal. Today's tenant has a major concern with quality of his environment and naturally the cost to operate. Today's managers must be aware of the building's environment, not just providing sufficient heating and cooling but the quality of systems and the costs to provide interior comfort. Sick building syndrome is for real! The typical mid-1970's to early 1980's office tower is the primary candidate for SBS. The causes are both in the design and maintenance of the system. The design standards were geared to energy efficiency: Variable Air Volume distribution systems, double glazed windows and maximum re-circulation of air. As these systems begin to age several factors can lead to sick Building Syndrome:

* VAV boxes lose calibration and shut down completely when temperatures setting are reached. * Bacteria builds up in ductwork and fan plenums. * During summer and winter months fresh air intake is reduced to conserve energy.

When these three factors occur bacteria is allowed to multiply and is distributed by the air system through the tenant space. In addition, due to the lack of fresh air toxin levels given off by carpet, furniture and people begin to increase. Tenants now complain of headaches, sickness and general discomfort. This can all be prevented through proper preventive maintenance of the systems; periodic environmental audits by certified testing companies and purging of the building by operating the systems on 100 percent fresh air several times per month during the winter and summer seasons. Generally this purgering is done during non-business hours, preferably Sunday night. Although there can be many other factors effecting the air quality in a property, if the systems are properly maintained, clean, calibrated and periodic independent tests are performed, we believe Sick Building Syndrome will not exist. The property manager must not turn a deaf ear to tenant complaints of discomfort as this could be the first sign of a problem.


With many of the new office leases requiring the tenant to pay his proportionate share of operating expenses, it is landlord that operating costs be minimized. Con Edison offers us the opportunity to address electric consumption beginning with the tenant initial construction. Whether rebuilding an existing space or constructing new office space, an efficient lighting system pays both long term dividends and immediate relief of capital dollars.

Substantial rebates are provided up to 100 percent cost of the lighting fixtures when old inefficient lighting is replaced. The building manager must be aware that by performing a pre-demolition lighting audit of an existing space a reduction in build-out costs of over $1.00 per square foot can be obtained. By submitting the lighting level of a vacant floor, which most likely was constructed in the late 70's to early 80's, Con Edison will provide a rebate of up to 100 percent of the cost of new energy efficient lighting fixtures when the floor is re-constructed under the new lease. For example, Cushman & Wakefield recently worked with a Fortune 500 company in obtaining a rebate of $135,000 for 100,000 square feet of space. The vacant floors originally constructed in 1970 had 2 feet by 4 feet, four lamp fixtures throughout. The new space has been designed and built with 1-foot-by-4-foot parablic fixtures, standard in today's office. Therefore, without expending additional funds, modifying the tenants design, the maximum lighting rebate was obtained. Seems quite simple! When constructing office space in a new property, Con Edison has developed standard lighting levels, which if the design is below these established levels, the property will recover up to $1.00 per watt saved.

Now couple these new lighting levels with a control system or occupancy sensors, and the rebate grows. Although the rebates help to offset the initial capital costs, the landlord and tenant both benefit by reducing electric costs throughout the lease. As an added benefit, reduced lighting levels mean reduced heat build-up, thereby requiring less air conditioning, again reducing operating costs. Several other rebate programs which can easily be applied, such as rebates for high efficiency electric or steam air conditioning and high efficiency motor replacements are available. These rebates are not just for major replacement of central plants but even for a one ton package units. Take advantage of the savings, it will help you now and in the future. We, at Cushman & Wakefield, believe that it is very important for the future of commercial real estate that all buildings be environmentally safe and energy efficient.

John C. Santora Director of Midtown Services Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Hagedorn Publication
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Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Energy & Conservation Supplement
Author:Santoro, John C.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Sep 18, 1991
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Next Article:Winter survival guide for owners, managers.

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