Can we make tenant data collection easier?


Our industry is engaged in an important dialogue to improve sustainability through ESG transparency and industry collaboration. This article is a contribution to this larger conversation and does not necessarily reflect GRESB’s position.

Accessing landlord-owned meters for sustainability reporting is not much of a challenge. The real difficulty comes when tenants are involved – simply because they own their data.

Sustainability reporting, in any shape or form, holds no value without the trust from investors, regulatory authorities, and other stakeholders. Data quality has become the metric du jour, and everyone who plays an important part in your buildings’ finances will question the data you provide.

When you use estimations, or in any other way disregard quality in your data collection, you put your stakeholders’ trust and, to some extent, your buildings’ future at risk. If you rely on estimations or standard templates for tenant electricity use, you are playing a guessing game with your data. For many landlords, this might seem like the only option to access tenant data. So can we make reliable tenant data collection easier?

The challenge – tenants own their data

A percentage lease, net lease, gross lease, FRI (Full Repairing and Insurance) lease, or double or triple net leases…? Three years, five years, 20 years…? The landscape of commercial leasing, particularly in the UK, is a minefield of complex and often extraordinarily taxing demands made from both the landlords’ and the tenants’ perspectives. The expectation and pressure of ESG reporting and sustainable developments rises day by day.

Today’s property owners are faced with the growing expectation to be highly familiar with their real estate portfolios, particularly in how they align with sustainability standards. And all these standards, which exist both nationally and internationally, require energy data.

Collecting data from meters, sensors, and other resources owned by landlords poses little difficulty when using the appropriate services and organizations. The tricky part comes when you need to involve tenants. Simply because: they own their energy data. They get to decide what happens with it, who gets to see it, and how it is used. That is fair. But it also means without an incentive in place, getting them to share this data is not easy – why would they bother taking on an extra task?

The solution – make data sharing mutually beneficial

How do we make the data collection process easier? There is probably a different answer for both tenants and landlords, so let us consider both.

From a tenant’s perspective, they want to keep their life simple, right? They are focused on running their businesses, and while cutting energy costs by 30 or 40 percent sounds fantastic, it is often not their top concern – landlords need to be more understanding of this. Treating tenants with respect should be a given, which means landlords should clearly explain why they are interested in accessing the tenants’ energy data. By engaging with tenants properly, and using a service that benefits both sides, this can be a mutually beneficial task to undertake. Contrary to popular belief, this approach can even improve the tenant-landlord relationship when handled right.

Now from a landlord’s perspective. Best case scenario would be to ditch the old lease and draft a brand new “Green Lease” that includes a requirement for tenants to provide hourly energy data whenever it is possible. But that is beyond unlikely. No one really expects a tenant who is halfway through a 20-year lease to drop everything and embrace a new contract just “because you want them to.” A practical approach might be to offer them a financial incentive. They are in the business to profit and succeed, after all, so offering a little extra might just persuade them to sign a new lease and share their energy data more openly. The long-term benefits will be massively worth it in the long run.

Streamlining data sharing for sustainability

Addressing this issue requires a nuanced approach. Landlords want sustainability data; tenants do not have to give it up. The key to resolving this, long term, is a mutually beneficial agreement for both parties. A critical aspect of this collaboration is ensuring the process for tenants to share their data is as straightforward and hassle-free as possible. The moment it becomes burdensome or complex, you risk losing their willingness to participate. By working together, with the right services, we can foster an environment where sustainability data flows freely, ultimately benefiting all stakeholders in the long run.

Landlords – think about the long-term benefits, and respect your tenants’ worlds

Find a reason to make it worthwhile for your tenants, because sometimes you need to spend some money to make money.


Tenants – do not forget that you can benefit from this too

Push your landlords to handle your data responsibly, and make sure that they are doing everything they can to operate as sustainably as possible. Share your energy data, but make sure it works to your advantage as well.

Choose a reliable data partner to automate your data acquisition

The accuracy and scale of the data reported will be increasingly important as ESG reporting becomes more tightly intertwined with financial reporting and investments. Estimating tenant data is not an option, but neither is manual data collection.

Our technology can collect whole building data, everything down to the tenants. We make it as easy as possible to get tenant consent, and as easy as possible for the tenants to comply. Ultimately, our services make the process of collecting tenant data easier – and we make sure your data stands the test of assessors, stakeholders, and authorities.

This article was written by Maja Christenson, Marketing Manager, EVORA Global.

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