Sustainability a Priority in CRE

Panelists participating in a Nov. 16 panel discussion on sustainability at REITWorld 2011: NAREITs Annual Convention: For All Things REIT encouraged REITs and the commercial real estate industry incorporate sustainability into the overall culture of their companies.

"Sustainability is a part of everything we do," said Walter Rakowich, CEO of Prologis Inc. (NYSE: PLD) and one of the panelists. "It's a mindset. There is no on or off switch."

"There's no way that our global problems will be solved without this industry being a part of it," said Gary Pivo, professor of urban planning and natural resources at the University of Arizona. "We have some serious challenges in front of us."

Dave Stanford, executive director of Real Foundations, moderated the four-person panel, where participants touted the benefits of being green in the commercial real estate sector.

Mary Hogan-Preusse, managing director and co-head-American Real Estate, APG Asset Management US Inc., said that because real estate is one of the main users of environmental resources, the industry should pay attention to its environmental impact.

"It's the right thing to do," she said. "Listed and non-listed companies have to demonstrate some form of sustainability before we invest in them. We want to see that you are starting that conversation."

Rakowich said that Prologis made a decision five years ago that everything it does will be certifiable or have the ability to be certifiable under LEED standards for sustainable building. He added that to make an industrial building sustainable, it costs approximately 3 percent more than the company would have had to spend otherwise.

Kevin Kampschroer, federal director with the U.S. General Services Administration said sustainability has resulted in significant cost savings. He and Rakowich both agreed that for tenants, lighting is the top consumption issue. Kampschroer said he is focused on reducing that cost.