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Sustainability Picking Up Steam in Industrial Sector

05/09/2012 | By Matthew Bechard

DCT Industrial Properties (NYSE: DCT) is starting to explore more sustainability initiatives, including incorporating solar power, according to David Castro, vice president of leasing with DCT Industrial Properties.

Castro spoke with REIT.com during the 2012 NAREIT Leader in the Light Working Forum in Dallas last month and discussed the next phase of sustainability in the industrial sector.

"You might see more industrial landlords looking heavier in to solar. Currently we are looking into it, and it might be in the test phase in our Northeast market," he said. "Once it's been researched enough, we'll see where it will go."

He added that he anticipates industrial companies will also begin to research having more panels on the roof because it's such a large surface to work with. However, he said there can be challenges associated with solar panels.

"I think there are large hurdles on concerns of maintenance. Not just the maintenance of the panels, but the maintenance of any roof leaks and how you have to manage removing the panels just to fix a roof leak," he said.

Sustainability initiatives have started to gain some ground in the last few years, according to Castro. He said once the recession hit, companies put more focus on the retention of customers and occupancy.

"Now that things are starting to improve so much for us and our competitors, we are starting to focus on sustainability," he said.

In terms of working with new construction versus existing assets, he said one of the advantages is that there's no waste in new construction. Castro said it also depends on the situation, adding that with a roof, for example, some companies may find that maintenance drives the replacement. Additionally he said repair cost can help companies decide what steps to take to come up with a green alternative.