Engaging Tenants and Key Employees at the Beginning of the Planning Process

Employee Engagement

By: Tiffany Richmond

You’re a real estate organization that recognizes that energy and environmental challenges can significantly impact your organization and have proactively engaged in developing a program or undergoing initiatives to reduce your company’s overall impact on the environment.

You’ve developed a policy, under gone energy audits, identified opportunities and have begun implementing measures to help achieve the targets and goals you’ve set forth.

This all sounds great, however if you missed to do this one simple activity, then your program will not deliver best results.

Engage tenants and key employees.

As much as this may sounds straight forward, it is often over looked when developing and implementing an energy program. Tenants and key employees are your building’s main operators; they switch lights off and on, they run water and control heating and cooling levels. Not only are their behaviours a major influencer but their insights on how the building operates can help shape the development of a program immensely.

Engaging tenants and key employees at the beginning of the planning process will only help build the momentum of the program and allow them to understand the WHAT, WHY and HOW.

In saying this, I’ve outlined three steps to engage tenants and key employees when developing an energy and environmental program.

The first is educating your tenants and key employees about the program. This includes the program’s plans, goals, objectives, and obtaining buy-in early in the planning process. Once your tenants and key employees understand what the program is and why you are doing it, it will be a lot easier to obtain buy-in.

The second step is to include your tenants and key employees in the strategy development of the program. This includes gathering their opinions and suggestions about building controls, operating procedures and capital improvement initiatives during the planning phase and incorporating these suggestions in the overall strategy document. Using an online surveying tool is a great way to gather information efficiently.

And lastly, share the success of the program with your tenants and key employees so they can see the value the program has delivered. This could include displaying the results of the program throughout the building, writing a newsletter about the success, hosting a lunch and learn to inform tenants and key employees or sending monthly email updates on the progress of the program.

Maintaining sustainable building practices is a multi-tiered effort. Tenants and staff are key players in making fundamental changes to reducing energy use, minimizing risk and improving environmental reputation and including them at the beginning of the program will help make the program a success.

Tiffany Richmond has over five years of experience as a marketing professional and is responsible for online marketing strategies at Energy Advantage Inc.

3 thoughts on “Engaging Tenants and Key Employees at the Beginning of the Planning Process

  • I agree with your plan but have one question. My tenants have leases that don’t allow me to pass on the capex for retrofits. So they would benefit from lower energy costs but I would not see any immediate benefits. How do you recommend breaking through this?

  • Thanks for your question Tom. I would recommend having an open discussion with tenants, if modifying leases isn’t an option, and forcing capex through the lease isn’t an option, then a shared investment plan can work in some cases and will help to build tenant investment in the building. Otherwise, smaller retrofits and pilot projects can be performed to demonstrate the value to the tenant who will then perhaps be more open to capex when renegotiating the lease.

    In the end though the benefits to you are in higher tenant satisfaction and therefore retention, a better building classification and the various marketing and reputational benefits that go along with energy efficient retrofit projects. All of this leads to a stronger position at the lease negotiation table and higher leasing rates. So eating the capex yourself in support of these benefits may be viable in some circumstances where there is a lotto gain from improved tenant relations. Also, look at re-commissioning projects which can have very strong effects at a fraction of the cost of retrofits.

  • It’s also important to have the right communications plan and tools in place to implement the plan. After all winning the hearts and minds of your employees or tenants is not easy. Motivating them to meet goals is even harder. But the payoff can be significant!

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