The Elusive Business Case for Building Green  

January 13, 2015

The tenant-landlord exchange was once simple: a certain rent entitled you to a certain quality of space.

“Sustainability has changed the dialogue with tenants in a dramatic way,” said Lachlan Macquarrie, VP of real estate management at Oxford Properties, at a recent roundtable discussion. There’s more talk than ever about how a more sustainable building can benefit its occupants, and even help businesses retain employees.

The exclusive roundtable session was co-hosted by B+H and the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC). As the official Canadian launch the World Green Building Council’s (WorldGBC’s) latest report, Health, Wellbeing &  Productivity in Offices, we invited developers, tenants, designers and real estate professionals to discuss the report’s recommendations. 

The report highlights a number of metrics that would demonstrate the effects of green buildings on employee health, wellbeing and productivity. More importantly, it suggests a framework building owners and tenants can use to collect and analyze the data needed to generate these metrics. 

This framework could produce the much sought-after metrics to prove that green building boosts bottom lines—if tenants and owners are up to the task.

“The report lays out multiple metrics—is that going to confuse tenants?” asks Guy Newsham.  “Can they engage with all that information?”

Heidi Painchaud, managing principal of B+H’s interior design group, said clients large and small are now presenting sustainability as a crucial prong of their business strategy. “When we ask our clients what’s driving their business, the biggest challenge they bring to the table is attracting high quality staff and keeping them,” said Painchaud. 

The question remains: how can businesses collect and analyze the data needed to measure the ROI of designing these healthier, more efficient spaces? 

Watch the recap video below to hear what our roundtable participants think. For details about the sector that's ahead of the healthy workplace curve, read our blog.


Roundtable Participants:

GUY NEWSHAM (Facilitator), Principal Research Officer, National Research Council - Construction

BRYAN CROENI, B+H Architects, Director

JOHN DUDA, SVP, Eastern Region, Colliers International

JAMES GRAY-DONALD, VP, Sustainability, Bentall Kennedy

HOLLY JORDAN, B+H, Associate

LACHLAN MACQUARRIE, Vice President National Programs, Oxford Properties


HEIDI PAINCHAUD, B+H Managing Prinicipal, Interior Design

GRAHAM TAKATA, Senior Manager, Energy and Sustainability, Enterprise Real Estate, TD Bank Group


To learn more about the projects referenced in this video, check out these project pages:

TD Centre

Microsoft Zizhu Campus

RBC Centre

University of Windsor - Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation

Heritage Mountain Middle School


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