Beyond Building Certification

Research Seminars

The Impact of Environmental Interventions on Commercial Real Estate Operations

We extend the well-known definition of investment in sustainable and energy efficient real estate beyond environmental building certification to include three additional types of environmentally-focused building interventions: environmentally-focused capital expenditure (capex); monitoring; and, tenant engagement. Appealing to behavioral economics and finance theory, we test for a connection between changes in tenant and property management behavior and electricity consumption. Through a partnership with a global institutional investment manager, this study examines ten years of asset-level operating statement and electricity consumption data in Canadian and U.S. office buildings, measuring both the initial impact of such interventions as well as any adjustments observed over time. Analysis of the proprietary intervention data allows us to further understand the impact of varied environmental interventions on the electricity consumption of commercial real estate. We find that all four intervention categories are associated with decreased electricity consumption, with tenant engagement providing an immediate decrease that is maintained over time. Environmentally-focused capex is also associated with decreased electricity consumption in both Canada and the U.S. Taken together the results indicate that decreased utility consumption and its associated cost are only maximized when multiple environmental interventions are implemented.


Avis Devine Ph.D.

Avis Devine // The Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, Canada

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Junior Research Associate, Carolin Schmidt
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