Property management teams are at the frontline of sustainability in the built environment, according to JLL sustainability analyst Lisa Hinde. It’s a role that also has commercial benefits, leading not only to greater engagement on the part of tenants and suppliers, but improving the standing of properties in the eyes of investors.
The JLL sustainability team was recently recognised for its efforts with the RICS Oceania Award for Sustainability Team of the Year.
One of the major achievements noted by the RICS Award judges was the team’s work with Commonwealth Bank Place, which achieved a 6 Star Green Star Performance rating.
JLL had been the onsite property managers since 2011, and worked collaboratively with the owners, represented by Lendlease, and CBA, the sole commercial tenant, for five years to ensure the building operates and is maintained at peak performance, Hinde says.
Following the release of the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star Performance tool in 2014, Lendlease had registered the property to undertake one of the first ratings.
“The main focus of this tool is assessing operational performance of an existing building with high star ratings directly attributed to the processes and procedures implemented by the facilities manager and building management teams along with energy and water efficiency,” Hinde says.
“It was a natural fit for us to complete the project as the property management team.”
As part of its broader sustainability focus, the company worked closely with the GBCA on the development of the tool. It also sits on a number of GBCA committees.
Members of the energy and sustainability services team and the operations manager for the site attended Green Star Performance training held by the GBCA, and also undertook the role of Green Star Accredited Professionals for the project.
“This new avenue opened up by the GBCA to focus on operational performance has allowed the focus of sustainability to shift to our facility and building management teams who in turn receive recognition for their green credentials in a third party tool,” Hinde says.
The outcome of the focus on improving operation efficiency is that the building is now outperforming the five-star NABERS base building rating it had been designed to achieve.
“In collaboration with Lendlease, we have managed to increase this to a 5.5 star base building rating and maintain this for the last two rating cycles,” she says.
“The significance of this achievement should not be underestimated as the difference between a 5 star and 5.5 star rating is a 25 per cent reduction in associated emissions from energy used in the building.”
Tenant engagement was a key element of the approach.
“We understand the importance of engaging with tenants as part of the operation of the buildings we manage. We’ve found through our experience that engaging with tenants around encouraging behavioural change is an important undertaking in the success of the introduction of any new sustainability initiatives and approaches,” Hinde says.
She says the tenant’s dedication to supplying information and working with the property managers to achieve outcomes to maintain and improve conditions for the building not only translated to enhancing indoor environment conditions for their employees but also provided feedback to the management team to help them better service the tenant’s needs.
In addition to the RICS award, the Darling Quarter property management team has also been recognised with the Sustainability & Environmental Impact award at the 2015 FM Industry Awards.
Hinde says that translating leading benchmarks, such as Green Star Performance and NABERS, in sustainable operation results in a wider reach of responsible management of assets, across a greater footprint of buildings.
Nationally shifting the goalposts
More broadly, having over 10 million square metres of commercial, retail and industrial space around Australia under its management, the company’s reach in terms of sustainability is “phenomenal”, national sustainability manager, property & asset management – Australia Kathryn Cassidy says.
“National policies in regards to sustainable procurement, resource efficiency, environmental management and tenant engagement have led to vast improvements across the building stock we manage,” she says.
The company also has a consistent track record of improving on NABERS Energy Base Building ratings.
Simone Concha, JLL sustainability director – Australia, says that sustainability is integrated throughout the business.
“Our clients value our expertise in sustainability, and our ability to translate big picture ideals into practical operational outcomes. We practice sustainability from green leases to energy efficient performance and waste recycling,” Concha says.
“For our own operations, our approach to sustainability reduces cost, attracts engaged employees and improves our work environment.”
The money has an appetite
The kinds of measurable outcomes the team achieves also have a benefit in terms of the market.
Concha says GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmarking) is “a top-end driver which is seeing demand from Investors”.
“They want to know that their asset is being well managed, so a GRESB score that increases each year is a good indicator. NABERS and Green Star Performance ratings are rewarded within the GRESB rating, so they are an important part of what investors want to see.”
Sustainability should be integrated into all aspects of a building’s operation, including utilisation and management of tenancies, Rebecca Smith, national sustainability manager, integrated facilities management – Australia, says.
Smith says the company develops sustainability strategies for tenants and integrates sustainability practices into facilities management.
“At the basis of any sustainability strategy is data. We utilise data to benchmark sites and identify opportunities, to monitor improvements and to report,” Smith says.
The company has a proprietary system, the Energy and Sustainability Platform, to manage the data.
“Our system is a web-based application designed to be implemented in a single building, or across a portfolio, delivering sustainability data to owners and occupiers easily and efficiently,” Smith says.
“By managing utility data, greenhouse gas emissions, savings initiatives and site performance tracking in one centralised system, tenants have full transparency of performance and progress across the portfolio and are able to track against baselines and targets.
“This allows for informed and strategic decision making on improving the environmental efficiency of tenancies, buildings or portfolios.”
Conversation is the starting point
Concha says the starting point for engagement is “good old-fashioned conversations”.
“Talking to our clients about sustainability strategies and collaborating with them on how to improve performance is an effective way to achieve outcomes,” she says.
The supply chain is also part of the picture.
“We source responsible materials, equipment and contractors based on a number of criteria and we are proud to partner with organisations that can meet these requirements,” Hinde says.
For the Commonwealth Bank Place rating, the team engaged directly with the cleaning contractor, Dimeo, to develop policies and procedures in line with best practice green cleaning. Representatives from the cleaning company also undertook third party sustainable cleaning training to gain further expertise in best practice policies around green cleaning.
“It was important for us to engage with suppliers directly to ensure the proposed changes could be achieved and that they accurately reflect what the market can deliver,” Hinde says.
“By setting the standard of what we expect from a JLL managed property, our contractors and suppliers are able to respond to these criteria and stimulate the market in order to raise the benchmark across the board.
Hinde says the relationships the property management teams develop with clients regarding operational performance of an asset have extended to include transferring knowledge from the operational phase through to the design and construction phase of other buildings and precincts the client is engaged with.
“As this relationship strengthens, maintainability, longevity and performance will strengthen as key aspects of consideration throughout the earlier stages of a buildings lifecycle,” Hinde says.
“JLL recognises the importance of this knowledge transfer as a key aspect of advancing the role of property and facility manager in pursuit of excellence in the field, as it assists the client in lowering their operational costs and streamlines the process for our own property teams who attend site once the building is complete.”