Richard Bachia, senior vice president of operations technology with Brookfield Office Properties (NYSE: BPO), joined REIT.com for a video interview at NAREIT’s 2013 Leader in the Light Working Forum in La Quinta, Calif.
Brookfield Office Properties won a 2012 Leader in the Light Award in the office large cap category. Bachia has been in the business for 28 years and shared his thoughts on the keys to building a successful sustainability program.
“One of the first things to learn as an operating engineer was to save energy and look at your usage as far as whether its steam or electric use. Sustainability just grew after 2005 and 2006. Then, we started looking at Energy Star and LEED and what it does in the environment,” he said. “We started getting questions from investors, and it became a more important part of our prospectus.”
After 40 successful projects, Bachia said the company wanted to take its progress even further. In 2007 and 2008, Brookfield began to look at its carbon footprint, then started reporting to the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project), an international, not-for-profit organization providing a global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information. The firm began using the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) in 2010 for its sustainability reporting.
Brookfield is especially focused on its carbon footprint, according to Bachia. Bachia said the company has been monitoring its carbon footprint for the last four years using third-party verification. The next step for the company is to decide what it will do from a carbon-neutrality standpoint.
Bachia said one of the biggest day-to-day challenges for Brookfield is getting buildings submetered and making sure that tenants are informed of the various sustainability initiatives.
“The only submetered market is New York. The rest of the markets are coming along. Houston has two buildings now, and we have couple of buildings in Los Angeles that are submetered, but not to the extent that New York is,” he said.