01/24/2014 | By Sarah Borchersen-Keto
Joe Lopez, vice president for property management and director of environmental impact at Equity One, Inc. (NYSE:EQY), joined REIT.com for a video interview at NAREIT’s 2014 Leader in the Light Working Forum in San Francisco.
Lopez was asked about how Equity One has addressed the growing importance of reporting sustainability results. He noted that Equity One started reporting on corporate responsibility and sustainability in 2009, focusing on metrics that were important to the business and its stakeholders.
“Over the course of the years, we’ve really just worked to refine those metrics to make sure we’re approaching each one that’s important. We’ve also broadcast the results of the initiatives that we originally rolled out in 2009… and also updated the report each year to include things that we’ve developed since then,” Lopez said.
Lopez also talked about the most important metrics for Equity One to report on.
“We approached the whole global ESG-type (environmental, social and governance) reporting and do it to the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) standard, so we look at the social side of things, the governance side of things and also the efficiency side of things,” Lopez said.
“Over the course of the last 12 months, you’ve really started to see other companies in our space follow the same path. They’re either using just a formal sustainability report or they’re doing the GRA standard as well,” he added.
Lopez told REIT.com that Equity One is making a big push now to convert its parking lot lighting to LED (light-emitting diode) technology.
“Recently, the technology has evolved rapidly to a point where the costs are coming in line, and we’re able to get a good return on the investment and we’re also able to meet the lighting requirements of our tenants and our liability concerns,” Lopez said.
He added that in addition to efficiency savings there are also repair maintenance savings, “which on a retail product like ours can be a significant line item.”
Looking ahead, Lopez stressed the need to engage Equity One’s customers in sustainability.
“Without the engagement of those parties, it’s really hard to manifest some of these sustainability initiatives. It takes the buy-in of all these parties involved in the building to really make these things happen,” he said.