05/08/2012 | by
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Choosing the Right Path Key for Sustainability

When it comes to sustainability programs, it can be challenging to select the right initiative for a particular building, according to Rick Avery, Health Care REIT Inc.'s (NYSE: HCN) vice president of energy management and building technologies.

He said that whether starting from scratch to give the building a higher sustainability profile or retrofitting an existing facility to update things like mechanicals, both offer unique challenges.

"One of the big issues is that there's so much good technology out there. It's a lot of choosing the right path and the one that's going to service your short term needs and long term needs in the operation of the facility," Avery said in an interview with REIT.com during the 2012 NAREIT Leader in the Light Working Forum in Dallas last month.

He said the company's sustainability efforts started off primarily in the company's medical office portfolio, where he said a lot of people in the field were already initially doing that they thought made the most sense.

"That foundation really set up the whole company to be successful because we kind of rolled those up and took the best practices that worked in the field and started to translate that across the broader portfolio," Avery explained.

With the company's property management function, by having a lot of control of those facilities, Avery said it made perfect sense to start with the medical facilities. When it comes to the senior housing aspect of the portfolio, he added that they are starting to see more of a focus on sustainability, not only as a cost driver but as a differentiator in the market place.

Health Care REIT is also concerned with making sure that both the outside world sees what the company is doing at a property, but other properties within the company's portfolio as well. They work to communicate that message to the people at its properties throughout the country.

"One of the things we do is that we're trying to share success and best practices and create some momentum around this as a tool to lever not only sustainability, but to have positive interaction and dialogue with the tenants," Avery said.