Collaborative Programs Advance Sustainability
06/08/2012 | by Matthew Bechard
In interviews with, participants at the 2012 NAREIT Leader in the Light Working Forum in Dallas offered their thoughts on how programs such as Leader in the Light and the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) have helped to advance the commercial real estate industry's efforts to go green.

Will Teichman, Kimco Realty Corporation's director of sustainability (NYSE: KIM), said the "healthy competition spurs us all forward and helps us move the ball forward."

Such groups of employees from like-minded companies help to speed up the adoption of sustainable solutions, according to participants. In addition to sharing achievements and successes, participants explained that it is equally beneficial to share challenges. Sukanya Paciorek, vice president of corporate sustainability at Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE: VNO), said that in talking about their challenges, many sustainability directors at REITs were able to come up with collaborative solutions that each can take back to their home companies.

Joe Lopez, vice president of property management and director of environmental impact with Equity One Inc. (NYSE), said efforts to create industry-wide measures and an ongoing dialogue enhanced the push to go green.

"I think any programs that drive standardization and awareness are truly beneficial, he said.. "I think our industry is now taking hold of some of these concepts."

Some participants pointed out that the recognition derived from programs such as Leader in the Light helped serve as motivation to take on environmentally conscious projects.
Aaron Binkley, Prologis' (NYSE: PLD) director of sustainability programs, said the programs been very useful in bringing focus to the energy performance in the company's existing buildings.

"It certainly helped us internally to galvanize support for initiatives to make our building more energy sufficient and sustainable," he said.