Liberty Property Executive Highlights Benefits of Green Leases for REITs

Marla Thalheimer, director of sustainability at Liberty Property Trust (NYSE: LRY), joined REIT.com for a video interview at NAREIT’s 2015 Leader in the Light Working Forum in Reston, Va.

Liberty Property Trust owns industrial and office space throughout the United States and United Kingdom. Thalheimer discussed the impact on sustainability of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Building Initiative, which seeks to make commercial and industrial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020 and accelerate private sector investment in energy efficiency.

She noted that programs launched under the initiative are “making a great impact.” For example, the data accelerator program, which involves local governments working with utilities to make it easier for building owners to get access to energy usage data, is “really making strides.” Another DOE initiative, the Green Lease Leaders program, last year recognized the efforts of Liberty Property in this area, Thalheimer noted.

“Green leases are an important piece of the puzzle,” she said.  “It’s not a magic wand that suddenly makes everything easy. But at the same time, it is a contract between us and the tenant, and it’s important to put a few things in there to be able to accomplish our goal.”

Thalheimer also commented on the particular difficulties that Liberty Property faces in connection with the collection of energy and water data.

Within its large industrial portfolio and its triple-net lease structure, tenants have all their own data, according to Thalheimer. “We have to work with the tenant to get the data because the landlord is the one responsible for reporting, so it can be challenging,” she said.