Crossing the Landlord / Tenant divide

Back in the mists of time when GRESB was a spreadsheet-based survey, the idea of full consumption data was proposed. Imagine the screams as the suggestion was made that even single tenant, or FRI leaseholders might, one day, give their private consumption data to their Landlord. It assumed, to start with, that the Tenant even knew who their Landlord was and how to contact them (or vice versa).

The market has come a long way since then, and the often arms-length relationship between Landlord and Tenant is becoming necessarily closer. With the advent of health & wellbeing and occupant- driven – or people-focused if you prefer – factors increasingly at play, the landlord of the future will need to continually re-examine the communication and collaboration points with their leaseholders.
Whilst this may require a new approach to lease management, it also brings unexpected opportunities and opens previously sealed doors. In particular, a request for consumption data can have unexpected consequences, leading to wider discussions on the sustainability of the building as a whole, the tenant’s desire to improve this and ultimately, collaboration on system upgrades and the signing of a new lease term.
Like any unanticipated request, the holder of the information is well within their rights to ask ‘what’s in it for me?’ We can cite the example of the German market, where the tenants procure their own energy and have no obligation to share this with their landlord. However, when that landlord provides a free benchmarking service and offers to review ways to reduce consumption in conjunction with the building management team, anonymised data can soon be forthcoming. Like any first step across a new bridge, there is some hesitation on both sides; with more exposure, new threads of communication and trust can be built and the relationship as a whole strengthens.
Data anonymity is a key point here. We have found that tenants are willing to share data once they are assured that it will be anonymised, and the Landlord may have to prove this. For GRESB, for example, individual tenant anonymity is guaranteed at portfolio level but there may have to be an undertaking to mention no names.
For those within multi-tenant buildings, benchmarking consumption and performance across the individual and/or other comparable buildings provides useful insights that individual tenants do not usually have access to. In one example, two tenants with almost identical office usage and layout patterns were surprised to see how different their energy consumption levels were. This opened the door to intra-tenant collaboration, as well as full data sharing with the Landlord – and reduced consumption across the building as a whole.
Don’t ask, don’t get: it is what we tell our children, but we also tell them to say ‘please’. Add a little sugar on top, in the form of benefits for all involved, and the results may be surprising. Having started with no single/FRI tenant consumption, we managed to reach 60% coverage. Ask for the impossible, you might just get it and a bigger cake than was thought possible.

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This article is written by Philippa Gill at Verdextra.

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