Awareness of Environmental Issues is Key for REITs, Farer Says
04/17/2013 | by Mitch Irzinski

David Farer, chairman of the environmental department with Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis LLP, joined for a video interview at REITWise 2013: NAREIT’s Law, Accounting and Finance Conference in La Quinta, Calif.

Farer discussed upcoming environmental legislation pertinent to REITs.

“There’s been a lot of activity on the state and local level in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy,” he said. “This leads not only to issues of residential rebuilding, but of rebuilding and new development in the commercial area. I think REITs will be seeing some new restrictions on the ability to commence development and also some potential significant increases in cost for coping with the new rules in developments that are already in the works.”

Farer described trends emerging in his practice with respect to environmental issues that companies are facing.

“We’re seeing a lot more development restarting and proceeding,” he said. “But the issues keep changing, and in this more post-recessionary environment, I’m particularly seeing a lot of attention being paid to the issue of vapor intrusion. This affects not only those who are responsible for the pollution, but anyone who’s got a building that’s affected by contamination that might well be due to a neighbor. So, we’re seeing a lot of our REIT clients paying a lot of attention to the vapor intrusion issue.”

Farer also discussed how companies monitor the risks of workplace toxins.

“I think companies have to bring the same level of awareness to the newer issues that have become commonplace with well-known issues like asbestos, radon and lead paint,” he said. “I think it’s important for companies to have management plans, crisis management plans and pay particular attention to some of the newer toxin issues like pandemic flu. I think if companies bring the same level of attention to these newer issues that they have to those that we’re all used to dealing with, I think REITs will be in good shape going forward.”