The challenge, at least for commercial landlords, is how to tell their sustainability story to all the key constituencies: government, media, investors, lenders, and tenants. In CNN MONEY, Alec Appelbaum describes how confused many landlords have become about the significance of what they are supposed to measure or benchmark.
Commercial owners are being mandated to report on energy usage in their buildings. Fine. Those numbers can give them insight on what's being consumed. The next step would be to reduce that through conservation and retrofitting for more efficiency. The business payoff would be lower cost. Energy is not cheap. The public-interest one would be less of a burden on the old grid system.
However, the rub is that this benchmarking is primarily geared to reduce carbon emissions. The data about energy use, though, is not directly related to what the building's carbon footprint is. Both landlords and regulators have been working on creating the relationship.
Meanwhile, landlords need to frame their stories about sustainability to be informative and positive about the impacts on cost, the gird, and the overall environment. That entails making it one of sound business practices as well as corporate social responsibility. The tone has to be confident, yet admit no one has all the answers or even the right questions on this one.