01/23/2014 | by
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Development Standards Changing, Sustainability Executive Says

Sara Neff, vice president for sustainability at Kilroy Realty Corp. (NYSE: KRC), joined REIT.com for a video interview at NAREIT’s 2014 Leader in the Light Working Forum in San Francisco.

Neff discussed how standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program have changed over the years.

“It used to be okay to build a (LEED) Silver building, and (LEED) Gold was pretty impressive. Now, everything is Gold, and we’re going to (LEED) Platinum for the really big stuff. I think that’s really great because the reason we’re doing that is because our tenants are responding,” Neff said.

“We’ve been able to push the envelope in our construction standards themselves,” Neff added. Those standards now include requirements for recycled content use and diversion rates, among other criteria, according to Neff. The end result is “more aspiration and just raising the floor for everything,” according to Neff.

Neff was asked about the most impressive sustainability metric or benchmark set by Kilroy Realty. She noted that the company has set a high bar with its performance in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program.

“We have a very efficient portfolio. Our average Energy Star score is 79 at this point, so to get more energy savings every single year, especially as our occupancy has been increasing, is very impressive,” Neff said.

“We’re still pushing; the savings are harder and harder to find, but we’re still finding them. We’re also really proud that finally we have 52 percent of our portfolio Energy Star-certified and 40 percent LEED-certified, so we’re going for more and more every year,” Neff added.

Neff also discussed an upcoming project in San Francisco that is going to be LEED Platinum-certified. She described it as Kilroy Realty’s “most innovative building.” It will feature a living roof, use of storm water for toilet flushing, solar panels and bricks grown from bacteria.

“Tenants are really responding, so we’re having a lot of great activity on the leasing side, and that sets this fantastic precedent for even more pushing of the envelope in the future,” Neff said.