REITworks Panel Reviews Case Studies Across Four Property Sectors

A panel at Nareit’s REITworks: 2020 Virtual Conference reviewed environmental stewardship case studies from the office, data center, residential, and retail real estate sectors.

Marta Schantz, SVP for the Greenprint Center for Building Performance at the Urban Land Institute moderated the panel, which also included: Dana Schneider, SVP, director of energy and sustainability for Empire State Realty Trust, Inc. (NYSE: ESRT); Jennifer Ruch, director of sustainability at Equinix, Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX); Katherine Elliot, director, sustainability and investments, at Equity Residential (NYSE: EQR); and Jeff Bedell, VP, sustainability at The Macerich Co. (NYSE: MAC).

Schneider at Empire State Realty emphasized the importance of setting data-based targets and measuring and disclosing against goals. She noted that the REIT’s Empire State Building is a leading example of the business case for deep energy retrofits, having achieved a 40% energy and emissions reduction.

With regard to health, safety, and wellness, Schneider noted that there’s “more focus now than ever on indoor environmental quality.”

Equinix’s Ruch described how the data center REIT’s ESG journey has accelerated in the last five years. Equinix was the first data center REIT to set a renewable energy goal, she said, noting that the data center is responsible for 1-2% of global emissions.

Elliot at Equity Residential demonstrated how the REIT’s renewable energy pilot programs inform larger deployments. She discussed a large scale rooftop solar PV roll out at 37 sites after multiple rounds of early pilots, as well as an innovative solar thermal and heat pump water heating solution at one site in California.

Meanwhile, Macerich’s Bedell reviewed the pros and cons of certifications, with a particular focus on the BREEAM system. Macerich earned a BREEAM USA In-Use rating at The Oaks Mall in record time, he noted.

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