Mark Peternell, vice president for sustainability with Regency Centers Corp. (NYSE: REG), discussed some of the shopping center REIT’s new green initiatives in the latest edition of the NAREIT Podcast.
Peternell described how Regency Centers has incorporated its “greengenuity” sustainability program into its corporate culture and made sustainability part of its “core values.”
“We believe that being an industry leader is in the best interest of our shareholders,” he said. “Sustainability is about doing the right thing, but when applied strategically, it can also be a source of competitive differentiation and value creation.”
Peternell noted that Regency Centers has moved beyond the traditional idea of sustainability as only relating to a project’s environmental impact.
“We are increasingly seeing a shift to a broader application of sustainability to also encompass social issues, corporate governance and, ultimately, economic sustainability,” he said.
Peternell also talked about the notion that companies with rigorous green policies are running out of “low-hanging fruit” to address.
“Certainly, some of the low-hanging fruit has been picked,” he said, “but the great thing about sustainability is that the fruit keeps growing back. As energy prices rise and we see more technological advancements, the fruit that may have been higher on the tree five years ago will start to ripen, and opportunities will continue to present themselves.”
Peternell stressed that energy conservation remains a primary focus for Regency Centers. The company’s efforts in that area include goals such as reducing energy usage in common areas within its properties. However, Regency Centers is also working on more holistic projects. These include “green leasing” in which tenants share energy and water usage information with the company.
“We can then, in turn, help them find value creation opportunities in sustainability,” Peternell said.
Lastly, Peternell discussed data collection processes and how the company gauges progress in its sustainability initiatives. Regency Centers has implemented a “comprehensive data management system,” according to Peternell. Furthermore, the company measures its performance against other companies utilizing available benchmarks, such as the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB).