of the space that we occupy,” he says. “In investor-owned, multi-tenant office buildings, there hasn’t been as big of a focus on sustainability because most utility expenses are passed through to
the tenants. Getting investor-owners aligned with us early on
was a challenge, but we are starting to see that change.”
Indeed, uncooperative landlords can hinder tenants’ sustainability efforts if the overall office building is not managed to
green standards. That is precisely why Houston-based
Transwestern is working to incorporate green lease language
into its contracts. “Going forward, we’ll be making sure that
upon lease renewal, our space will be managed to a LEED-certified level at minimum,” insists the company’s senior vice president and director of LEED and sustainability, Allan Skodowski.
“For example, the building is going to have to use more low mercury lamps or have a recycling program in place that meets our
corporate standards. It will also have to have green cleaning programs, using green cleaning products.”
Transwestern is no novice to environmental efficiency, having worked with the EPA since 1996 on client services and winning an Energy Star award for the past five years. Presently, the
firm has placed some 50 client-owned properties in the US
Green Building Council’s LEED portfolio pilot program.
Among the firm’s other internal initiatives are offsetting
flight emissions for traveling executives and implementing a
national recycling program throughout its 24 office locations.
With the help of green consulting firm Leonardo Academy of
Madison, WI, Transwestern is finalizing its internal green program and slowly rolling out the various components.
“Our focus has really been on the corporate level and how to
fine-tune a program that makes sense from both an environmental and fiscal standpoint,” says Skodowski. “Trying to connect the two has been difficult because some of the methods are
so new, like retiring carbon emissions for an office facility.”
Skodowski spearheaded the company’s effort last summer to
certify its Chicago headquarters at 200 W. Madison to LEED
commercial interiors standards. Part of that effort was the acquisition of renewable energy credits to achieve carbon neutrality
for the space. Still, Skodowski worries that the endeavor does
not address the full scope of the problem of carbon emissions.
“We know that we’ve purchased enough renewable energy
credits to account for the electricity used in our space, but does
it go further than that? The building is heated and cooled from
a central plant. What about the energy used for that? We’ve
taken care of the lighting and plug loads, but what about the
space itself? How far do you go? There is no real clear rule set,”
Certainly, mitigating one’s carbon footprint is a fairly new
focus that becomes more involved as sustainability programs
unfold. Not only will companies have to consider the energy
consumption in their offices, but also in relation to such