05/22/2012 | by
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Going Green Doesn't Require Major Investment

Liberty Property Trust (NYSE: LRY) has seen significant gains in its sustainability simply by picking off low-hanging fruit, said Marla Thalheimer, the firm's director of sustainability. 

"Honestly, the majority of what we have been able to do to date has just been operational changes," she told NAREIT at the 2012 NAREIT Leader in the Light Working Forum in Dallas. That programs that the company has undertaken generally aren't capital intensive, she said.

Liberty was one of the 2011 NAREIT Leader in the Light Award winners for sustainability and energy efficiency. Thalheimer said participating in the program has proven to be "extremely valuable" to the company.

"It's just a tremendous accomplishment for us as a company to reach that level and have our teams be honored for the work that they've put into it," she said. "It was just terrific."

Among Liberty's more successful efforts has been a real-time energy monitoring platform, according to Thalheimer. She noted that the system has required an investment of just $1.5 million across the 130 of the Liberty's buildings.

"We do a real-time energy monitoring, which has just been a tremendous tool to allow our people to see what's really happening in the building and realize and react in real time to anomalies as soon as they happen, as opposed to down the road," she said.

Overall, Liberty's program has evolved from a set of individual initiatives to a corporate-wide mindset, according to Thalheimer.

"When we first started, they were sustainability initiatives," she said. "The beauty of it is that over time, it has become about how our property managers go about their day and how our building engineers are looking at the buildings. So it has become how we do business now and thinking about the assets in the long term as opposed to sort of just a one-time initiative."