How Green Leases Bring Sustainability and Cost Savings Together

Cleveland, July 30, 2015 – Green leases are increasingly being used by tenants, landlords, commercial real estate companies and others as a way to increase efficiency, bring down costs, and bolster building performance. A green lease encourages collaboration between landlords and tenants to take action to improve efficiency by including specific provisions that address energy efficiency and building environmental performance.

Cleveland, July 30, 2015 – Green leases are increasingly being used by tenants, landlords, commercial real estate companies and others as a way to increase efficiency, bring down costs, and bolster building performance. A green lease encourages collaboration between landlords and tenants to take action to improve efficiency by including specific provisions that address energy efficiency and building environmental performance.

Factoring sustainability into an overall business strategy can have a dramatic impact on a company’s bottom line. Sustainability requirements in a lease can bring utility bills down by up to 51 cents per square foot. Further, energy consumption in an office building can be brought down by 11 percent to 22 percent.

In much the same way members are assisted via business audits and gaining access to capital, COSE is leading the charge to uncover ways for members to realize savings through being more energy efficient.

Some examples of how sustainability measures can be implemented in a lease agreement include:

  • Limiting cleaning services to normal business hours in order to reduce a building’s operating hours.
  • Submetering individual spaces within a building so tenants can track energy use and only pay for what they use.
  • Installing advanced lighting controls and motion sensors increase lighting efficiency and allow more control over the brightness of the office.

“Green leases just make business and economic sense,” says Nicole Stika, senior director, energy services at COSE. “When you put energy-saving language into a lease, you align the financial and environmental goals of both landlords and tenants. Green leases also link corporate social responsibility best practices to building energy performance while demonstrating to potential tenants and investors a commitment to superior operations, tenant satisfaction, and sustainability.”

About COSE

For more than 40 years, the Council of Smaller Enterprises has acted as a leading resource for small businesses. COSE’s solutions, resources and advocacy work are designed to help its members succeed – every day – because small business growth and success is the organization’s priority. 

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  • Next up: How Mobile is Shaping Business
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  • How Mobile is Shaping Business

    Back in 2009, mobile devices accounted for 0.7% of all Internet traffic, according to data from We Are Social. Flash forward to today, and mobile traffic accounts for 38.6% of Web traffic. Needless to say, small business owners need to be aware of this growing trend because their customers are accessing information in a wholly different way, said Bob Coppedge, the CEO of Simplex-IT in Hudson. “You have to understand mobile is increasing,” he said during a recent COSE WebEd webinar.

    Back in 2009, mobile devices accounted for 0.7% of all Internet traffic, according to data from We Are Social. Flash forward to today, and mobile traffic accounts for 38.6% of Web traffic.

    Needless to say, small business owners need to be aware of this growing trend because their customers are accessing information in a wholly different way, said Bob Coppedge, the CEO of Simplex-IT in Hudson. “You have to understand mobile is increasing,” he said during a recent COSE WebEd webinar.

    It’s critical that entrepreneurs ensure their websites are mobile-friendly, that is, easily navigated on a smaller smartphone or tablet screen. Responsive design, which refers to the ability of a site to reorganize itself automatically based on the size of the screen, is one step owners should take when it comes to optimizing their mobile site.

    “You want to make sure people are able to do business as seamlessly as possible, but still secure,” he said.

    Mobile-friendly websites are important because customers are increasingly making purchases through their mobile devices. According to an August 2015 report from Internet Retailer, mobile represents 30% of all U.S. commerce. “Back in ’08 and ’09, people weren’t buying anything on mobile,” Coppedge said. 

    Beyond the commerce angle, mobile-friendly sites are important for another reason, Coppedge said. It’s another way to engage customers and other stakeholders. “You have to take mobile into account.”

    BYOD

    Another way mobile is shaping the way companies do business is in how their employees are leveraging mobile devices. More and more employees are bringing their own devices to work and business owners need to account for that, he said.

    The challenge in this is how to manage the security aspect, Coppedge said.

    “If you do not provide devices, you are somewhat dependent on how secure those other folks are making their devices,” he said.

    One way to manage security is to implement a single sign on service. With employees having to juggle many different accounts and passwords for things such as social accounts, shipping services, etc., single sign on allows is a way to create an online database of all employees and their credentials. The single sign on service can be accessed directly through its own website, or can be loaded onto the employees’ phone as an app.

    At the end of the day whether its customer- or employee-facing, entrepreneurs should be clear about how mobile is interwoven into their business plan, Coppedge said.

    “You need to have a business strategy,” he said. “You have to align strategy with devices and the resources customers will be using.”

     

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  • Next up: How Strategic Partnerships, Energy Buying Keep You in Control
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  • How Strategic Partnerships, Energy Buying Keep You in Control

    There is strength in numbers. That’s a pretty common saying, but when it comes to energy buying, it rings very true. COSE members as a whole can gain market leverage for their energy purchases. How? Through the power of COSE’s partnerships.

    There is strength in numbers.

    That’s a pretty common saying, but when it comes to energy buying, it rings very true. COSE members as a whole can gain market leverage for their energy purchases. How? Through the power of COSE’s partnerships.

    Through its preferred consultant—OnDemand Energy—COSE members are able to leverage suppliers for favorable pricing for their businesses as well as for their homes via COSE’s residential program.

    OnDemand Energy continually monitors the energy markets and advises COSE members on the optimal term and timing of their purchases. Typically, there is a “sweet spot” term for each purchase that varies by supplier and considering regulatory and market conditions and each member’s own unique usage characteristics.

    Energy Buying Strategy

    So, what’s the best strategy a business can have to lock in energy buys and prices? You must recognize that numerus variables, including energy and other non-energy costs, are included in the ultimate price. These variables are constantly changing, which makes it virtually impossible for a non-professional to sort them all out.

    This is where the help of an energy professional can really come in handy. Just as most businesses use a professional accountant to prepare their taxes in order to minimize their tax burden, the advice of a qualified and experienced energy professional can help you find the optimal plan for your energy needs. In addition, this energy professional eliminates the learning curve for the business and just makes the procurement process so much easier.

    Trusted Advisors

    Sam Steinhouse of Excel Air Tool Company can attest to the value partnering with COSE’s Energy Team can bring. He has relied on the expert advice he’s received from COSE and the time the team has spent going over how to help Excel save on its energy costs.

    “We feel well-informed from a trusted source on what we can do to make the building more energy efficient,” he says.

    COSE members have access to several programs designed to ensure you’re maximizing your energy. Contact us at 216-592-2205 or energy@cose.org to learn more.

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  • Next up: How to Choose a Data Center
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  • How to Choose a Data Center

    Not all data centers are created equal. This is an unfortunate lesson learned by many business owners. Before we get into that, let’s first discuss what is a Data Center and why it is important to your company’s success and longevity. A data center is a purpose built facility that houses your critical data. The size of your company does not matter, whether you are a business with one employee or a multi-national, worldwide organization – we ALL have critical data that must be accessible, secure and always available. However based on your needs and requirements for uptime, availability and security, that is where data center services can become complex. 

    Not all data centers are created equal. This is an unfortunate lesson learned by many business owners. 

    Before we get into that, let’s first discuss what is a Data Center and why it is important to your company’s success and longevity. A data center is a purpose built facility that houses your critical data. The size of your company does not matter, whether you are a business with one employee or a multi-national, worldwide organization – we ALL have critical data that must be accessible, secure and always available. However based on your needs and requirements for uptime, availability and security, that is where data center services can become complex. 

    Some companies have an internal IT Closet, and consider that sufficient for their needs, albeit their business related data and hardware are located in an unsecured, easily accessible location with no redundant systems in place. For a business owner, that is a risky proposition as any downtime can be catastrophic to your business and brand.   

    Most businesses realize at some point, whether through trial and error, personal pain, loss of customers or external governing requirements that they will need to house their Primary and/or Secondary critical data and services at a multi-tenant data center. That sounds simple, however not all data centers are created equal. If you’ve ever toured a big 15,000 square foot or bigger data center it can be overwhelming. Security procedures just to get in the front door, loud buzzing of servers, storage and network equipment, rows and rows of cabinets, blinking lights, the whoosh of cool air, cages, cameras, cabling galore. Wow – because most data centers look similar from afar, what is one to do?

    This is where the business owner must perform some due diligence and make sure their business needs and requirements align to the products and services the data center is providing. How? Well, here are some key areas of interest that would factor into your decision.

    Products and Services. Does the data center provide leased space only, or other services like, cloud computing, security services, disaster recovery and business continuity, etc. Have a good understanding of what they can do, but also understand what they won’t do. This is important to understand the line of delineation. When you, the business owner, are experiencing an issue, you want to make sure all roles and responsibilities are clearly defined with no ambiguity, thus increasing your mean-time to being operational.

    Power. Ask questions on power design, redundancies and uptime. The data center should have detailed information on all aspects of the power distribution and infrastructure.

    Network. This item at times might be overlooked. Does the data center provide Internet services with multiple carriers for increased availability and redundancy? Does the data center only provide connections directly to Telco Carriers? Understand costs for these connections as these charges can add up.

    Preventative Maintenance. This item is critically important. I’ve learned at an early age in business, that you want to make sure the company, “does what it says’. A good way is to ask for records or maintenance, notifications and repair. Keep in mind mechanical systems will fail, there is no way around that fact, however understanding the redundancies in place and proactive approach can benefit the business owner and ultimately their customers. 

    Contracts and SLA. Review all terms and conditions and service level agreements, and negotiate terms if you feel uncomfortable. A Multi-tenant Data Center should work with you in crafting a service and conditions that work for you. Let’s face it, all companies act different, think different and most importantly are different. You should align yourself with a partner that is flexible.

    Certification. Ensure the data center follows industry recognized certifications and stays current. 

    References. This one is a no-brainer; however, ask for both current and past customers as references.

    Petar Bojovic is Director of Operations of BlueBridge Networks in Cleveland.

    This article originally appeared in the September 14, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.


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  • Next up: How to develop a social media plan: Expert’s Edit
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  • How to develop a social media plan: Expert’s Edit

    Our cadre of sources in the Expert’s Edit section of the March/April 2016 Mind Your Business did an excellent job of laying out how a small business can get rolling on a PR plan (hey, what can we say, we’re biased!) Social media can play a big role in this, too. One of the aforementioned experts — Nancy Lesic, the CEO of Lesic & Camper Communications — offered her advice below on how best to leverage social channels as part of an ongoing PR plan.

    Our cadre of sources in the Expert’s Edit section of the March/April 2016 Mind Your Business did an excellent job of laying out how a small business can get rolling on a PR plan (hey, what can we say, we’re biased!)

    Social media can play a big role in this, too. One of the aforementioned experts — Nancy Lesic, the CEO of Lesic & Camper Communications — offered her advice below on how best to leverage social channels as part of an ongoing PR plan.

    Read and learn:

    “Social media strategy is really dependent on the organization and/or the campaign, their goals and objectives and their target audience. There are so many mediums to explore between Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and others. It takes careful evaluation to determine what is the best choice.

    Whenever we are getting started with social media for a client, we take time to sit down with them and do a thorough information gathering and assessment.  We use this process to determine both how to launch and also what background material is needed so we can best develop that material prior to launching.

    For example, if you decide Facebook is an appropriate place to start for your business, I would wait to create a public Facebook page until you have all the basic page content prepared. Depending on the type of page you choose, this could mean a bio, contact information, a collection of photos and of course your chosen profile and cover photos.  We also like to have interesting “any time” posts ready so we are able to consistently engage the audience when there is a break in the current/trending news flow. 

    Also, develop social media guidelines so you and your team are all playing from the same playbook, and think in advance of how to handle negative comments on social media. Yes, it may happen, but it’s not a reason to avoid it. 

    But if you plan to run a social media campaign, make sure you, a staff person or a consultant have time to do it and do it well.  It can reflect poorly to have a social media presence that is not constantly up-to-date with at least a respectable number of followers.” 

     

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  • Next up: How to finance your energy efficiency project
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  • How to finance your energy efficiency project

    PACE financing can help you pay for your energy efficiency project. Here's how.


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