Brian Montague, senior vice president for energy and sustainability at General Growth Properties, Inc. (NYSE: GGP), joined REIT.com for a video interview at NAREIT’s 2016 Leader in the Light Working Forum at the Ritz Carlton – Coconut Grove in Miami.
Montague noted that GGP faces unique sustainability challenges as many of the malls in its portfolio were built in the 1970’s to 1990’s. “There’s a lot of old infrastructure, but we look at that as a positive,” Montague said.
Some of the sustainability initiatives GGP has undertaken involve investing $100 million on solar rooftop panels, investing $60 million on upgrading HVAC equipment, and replacing 300,000 incandescent lightbulbs.
According to Montague, the solar initiative will produce 40 megawatts of power, which he believes is possibly the largest solar project in the mall REIT industry. Montague said he expects the solar project to be fully operational this year.
All of these projects have “great shareholder return,” Montague said. Not only are they good for the environment and community, but they also benefit employees by reducing the maintenance issues they have to deal with, he added.
Montague noted that GGP works closely with its tenants to provide them with guidelines and recommendations for sustainability issues. For example, waste haulers will train personnel on how to use different types of cardboard compactors, Montague said.
Meanwhile, Montague said that although GGP would like to see more consistent sustainability standards for the REIT industry, the company’s main focus is on achieving a 300 million kilowatt reduction from 2011 to 2017.
In addition to its solar, HVAC and lighting projects, Montague said GGP is also working on smart water systems, and reducing its waste diversion rate to 35 percent.