When it comes to the Earth’s energy consumption, did you know that real estate accounts for roughly 40% of the world’s total consumption — and roughly one-third of all carbon emissions? Given the state of today’s climate, this means that we, as commercial real estate professionals, are on the forefront of climate change risk, brought on by greenhouse gas emissions. As such, we owe it to ourselves and our future generations to reduce the impact of our properties — and help out of clients, in the process.

But how, exactly, can we do that? How can commercial properties and companies reduce their carbon footprint? To find out, let’s take a closer look at these 4 sustainability practices that are taking hold in commercial real estate today.

Leveraging renewable energy sources

One of the biggest ways that corporations can reduce their carbon footprint is by taking advantage of renewable sources of energy. Renewable energy offers a tremendous opportunity to not only reduce the overall consumption of greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuels, but to also enjoy great cost savings, as well. And, what’s more, you can even implement a plan to use renewable energy sources across your entire portfolio with little to no capital invested up front.

Pursuing green building certifications

It comes as no surprise that commercial structure building and operations have huge impacts on our environment. As a result, many commercial developers have adopted the LEED standards set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). But did you know that there are other options for certifications? Other options include sustainability programs created by the U.S. Green Building Initiative, the International WELL Building Institute, the Building Research Establishment, and more. This increase in certifications is helping to lead to a higher level of standards — allowing for a growing inventory of energy efficient, high performing, and sustainable commercial buildings.

Reducing building-related energy consumption and emissions

Another great way to cut back on your building’s carbon footprint is to reduce your own building-related energy consumption and emissions levels. As major consumers of fossil fuel sourced energy, commercial buildings play a big role in overall carbon emissions. In addition to incorporating renewable energy sources into your building’s plan, you can also use today’s cutting edge building technologies to help reduce your consumption of energy — from any source. Look for Internet of Things-based smart building management tools, and high-efficiency smart buildings systems — both of these can be repeatedly and constantly to ensure smooth operation and also to prevent any unnecessary waste of energy.

A commitment to working with vendors invested in environmental sustainability

While it may not be your first line of thought, everything from the paper towels in your restrooms to your window cleaning and landscaping services relies on a number of outside vendors in order for your systems to operate smoothly — and the vendors that you choose can play a big role in your carbon footprint. By choosing to work with suppliers, service providers, and other vendors with a strong commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency, you can expand your conservation efforts that much further. Not sure where to start in finding the right vendors to work with? Consider partnering with platforms such as EcoVadis or Avetta — both evaluate suppliers’ practices and also identify any areas of potential risk that you should be aware of.