02/07/2022 | by

Nearly 150 industry professionals attended Nareit’s ESG JumpStart Workshop: 2022 Webinar Series, held Jan. 24-Feb. 4. The workshop is one of the many resources Nareit provides to its members and the broader commercial real estate industry to support the advancement of environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and good governance.

This year’s workshop was held virtually as a series of eight, 90-minute educational webinars. Fulya Kocak, Nareit’s senior vice president of ESG issues and the host for this year’s JumpStart Workshop noted that the workshop “helps provide the foundational knowledge necessary to develop a strong ESG program, and I’m so glad so many of our members have taken advantage of the unique opportunity to learn from the experience of peers who have created and optimized an ESG program for a REIT.” Keep reading for a recap of the event’s program this year, and register here to access the recordings on demand. 

During the ‘Organizational Change and How to Start an Effective ESG Program’ session, panelists Michael Chang, VP, Energy & Sustainability at Host Hotels & Resorts; Emily Paciolla, Director of Sustainability at Federal Realty Investment Trust; and Harry Etra, CEO of HXE Partners shared different approaches to launching an ESG program—including how to overcome common challenges—and provided an overview of how to conduct an ESG materiality assessment.

Chris Laz, AVP of Sustainability at Realty Income; Tamara Chernomordik, Senior Director of ESG at Kimco Realty Corporation; and Eric Abramson, Senior Customer Success Manager at Measurbl shared lessons learned from implementing ESG data management initiatives and setting environmental goals during the ‘Environmental Initiatives: The Importance of Data Management’ session.

Instructors Katherine Elliot, Director of Sustainability and Investments at Equity Residential; Ethan Gilbert, Director of ESG at Prologis, Inc.; and Daniele Verdani, Founder and President of Verdani Partners, explored how leading real estate companies are tackling climate action and shared insights into disclosure, adaptation, and mitigation strategies during the ‘Climate Action and Mitigation: Creating a Resilience Strategy’ session.

The first week of webinars wrapped up with the ‘Climate Change Goal Setting, Introduction to Net Zero, Implementation, and Reporting’ session, taught by instructors Aaron Binkley, Senior Director of Sustainability at Digital Realty and Kimberly Pexton, VP of Sustainability at JBG SMITH. They shared guidance on how to set climate goals and emissions targets and establishing timelines and provided insights into pathways to achieve a net zero portfolio.

The second week of webinars started with ‘REITs and Social Initiatives: Measuring the ‘S’ of ESG.’ Instructors Dan Egan, SVP of Energy & Sustainability at Vornado Realty Trust and Natalie Teear, SVP of Innovation, Sustainability & Social Impact at Hudson Pacific Properties, Inc. reviewed common ‘S’ metrics and reporting frameworks, as well as key market and regulatory trends impacting these topics.

The ‘How To Start Reporting on ESG Performance, Introduction to ESG Reporting Frameworks’ session was taught by Mark Delisi, VP of Corporate Responsibility at AvalonBay Communities, Inc., Fulya Kocak, SVP of ESG Issues at Nareit, and Daren Moss, SVP of Operations & Sustainability at Brixmor Property Group, Inc. They discussed the available reporting frameworks, shared best practices for reporting on ESG performance, and provided guidance for issuing standalone sustainability or CSR reports.

Instructors Carol Samaan, VP, Corporate Counsel & ESG at Healthpeak Properties, Inc. and Christine Robinson, Partner, Sustainability & ESG Services at Deloitte, shared best practices for reporting ‘G’ issues and discussed the latest governance trends impacting real estate and ESG during the ‘Governance KPIs: Reporting the ‘G’ of ESG’ session.

The final session of the series was ‘ESG Communications Strategy,’ led by instructors Heidi DuBois, Head of ESG at AEA Investors, and Lane Jost, SVP, ESG Advisory at Edelman. They shared practical advice for implementing ESG communications strategies to effectively reach employees, investors, and other stakeholders who care most about ESG practices and results.

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