Cracking “engagement”

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Lora Brill
EMEA Upstream Sustainability Services

“Let’s engage!” the war cry of real estate companies trying to reduce gas, electricity, water and waste in their buildings. Tenants and buyers are where the money is, and they are also where the environmental savings are for real estate companies. So why is it so hard to engage tenants in environmental campaigns?

1 – You need the right property managers. Receptionists, handymen, and all round building managers need to be able to explain to tenants what the benefits are of changing their expectations and behaviour to reduce energy/water/waste. For example, when tenants complain that the temperature takes a few hours to increase or drops off at certain times, the manager needs to explain the benefits and the reasons. They also need to be motivated to do so. Until recently, companies haven’t considered whether or not a prospective property manager has the skills and personality to educate tenants about sustainability and operate sustainability features. Property managers are at the coal face of implementing sustainability measures from complex Building Management Systems to thermostatic radiator valves. Investing lots of money in these measures without changing hiring criteria doesn’t make a lot of sense.

2 – We need to change the language of sustainability. Rather than using words like “energy efficiency” and “climate change”, property managers need to focus on the benefits that matter to tenants such as comfort, cost, convenience and community. Property managers need good PR tools for engaging tenants on sustainability issues.

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