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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Accounting for my Energy Usage in Shared Buildings

We are going through a process in the USA to fine tune our energy consumption data and carbon accounting. It is common practice, in buildings with multiple tenants, for energy and other utilities to be bundled in with a commercial real estate leases. Costs for these utilities are allocated on the basis of square footage.

Needless to say this does not provide much incentive for companies to reduce energy usage. The benefit of reductions made by one tenant are shared amongst all and could easily be overwhelmed by increases made by others.

However, I want to include my share of these shared tenancy sites in my energy consumption and carbon footprint. Not only is it the right thing to do, but also, if I don’t include them now, then if in the future I consolidate some of these sites into a single larger and more energy efficient site with separate energy metering my apparent consumption and emissions will increase where in fact they may have decreased.

To assess the energy consumption for those of our sites in this situation I have either to hassle the landlord for sight of the bill and then determine how to split it, or to develop an estimate of KWh per square foot of space from buildings where I do know the consumption and apply it to the square footage of buildings where I do not know the consumption. I have relied mostly on the latter. I have also spoken to counterparts in other companies and I am not the only one having to take this approach.

I am hoping that over time commercial property companies, and especially those companies that have a stated green focus, will move away from this allocated utility practice and towards individual metering. Meanwhile estimating will have to do unless anyone reading this has a better approach to suggest.


  1. We were talking in the office about quick-hit cost savings for the company's profitability, and noted that lack of separate metering prevents us from reaping any financial benefit from holiday closure period. Our space will probably be heated and toasty with no one in it. The landlord is quick to note when there will be unconditioned weekends at their decision, but as tenants of half a building, can't do much under current arrangements.

  2. Some municipalities prevent separate metering (i.e. DC) in office buildings unless each an every tenant is separately metered. This is another challenge and something to consider before approaching the landlord. I think that we are going to see a radical shift over the next few years...especially as landlords start to see the benefits to them as well.