REITs Honored for Sustainability Practices

NAREIT honored the winners of its annual Leader in the Light Awards competition on Nov. 16. The awards, which are done in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR program, recognize NAREIT member companies that have demonstrated superior and sustained energy use practices.

Awards are presented in both Large Cap and Small to Mid Cap categories.

Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE VNO) took the Gold Award, the top honor, in the Large Cap category.

Sukanya Paciorek, vice president of corporate sustainability for Vornado, told that the company is committed to energy efficiency and sustainability as part of its core business. She said that commitment also gives Vornado a competitive advantage in the markets that the company operates in.

The Silver Award was presented to Simon Property Group (NYSE: SPG). George Caraghiaur, senior vice president of energy and procurement, noted that it was Simon's seventh such selection.

"We are very proud and pleased that our employees' accomplishments in energy efficiency and dedication to sustainability improvements continue to be recognized," Caraghiaur said.

The Bronze Award in the Large Cap category was presented to Prologis (NYSE: PLD), the Honorable Mention Award in the Large Cap category was presented to Macerich (NYSE: MAC), and the Innovator Award went to HCP (NYSE: HCP ).

Liberty Property Trust (NYSE: LRY) won the Gold Award in the Small Cap category.

"Our teams all across the country have worked very hard to ensure sustainable practices are woven into every aspect of our business, and to be recognized by our industry for these efforts is truly an honor," said Marla Thalheimer, sustainability manager with Liberty.

The Silver Award went to Brandywine Realty Trust (NYSE: BDN), and the Bronze Award was won by Wells Real Estate Funds. The Honorable Mention Award was presented to Thomas Properties Group (NASDAQ: TPGE), and the Innovator Award went to Cousins Properties (NYSE: CUZ).

The Leader in the Light Awards also include Newcomer of the Year, which goes to the highest-ranking first-time applicant, and a Long Term Achievement Award for dedication to sustainability improvements over multiple application years.

The Newcomer of the Year Award was won by Extra Space Storage (NYSE: EXR), and the Long Term Achievement Award was presented to Simon Property Group.

"REITs today are leaders in sustainability because they understand it isn't just good public relations – it's good business," said NAREIT Executive Vice President for Finance and Operations Sheldon Groner. "REITs recognize sustainability produces hard dollars-and-cents savings that are important in today's economic environment."

Additionally, Groner said sustainability provides a competitive advantage in the marketplace, because tenants gravitate to buildings that offer sustainable technology.

"For public companies, sustainability is an important issue for shareholders who have an expectation that the companies they invest in will manage their operations in an environmentally responsible manner," he said.

The 2011 Leader in the Light Award judges were Michael Opitz, vice president, LEED, U.S. Green Building Council; David Stanford, president and CEO, Real Foundations; Mark Vorreuter, adjunct lecturer, Cornell University Program in Real Estate; and Maria Tikoff Vargas, director, Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge.