01/29/2014 | by
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Parkway's Bold New Sustainability Venture to Green its Portfolio

Daniele Horton, founder and principal of Verdani Partners and head of sustainability at Parkway Properties, Inc. (NYSE: PKY), joined REIT.com for a video interview at NAREIT’s 2014 Leader in the Light Working Forum in San Francisco.

Horton was asked about the main focus of Verdani, a company she formed in 2012.

She replied that due to the “massive” stock of existing buildings, 75 percent of which are more than 20 years old and ready for a retrofit, “there is a tremendous opportunity in making those buildings more efficient, more sustainable, more productive and also more valuable.”

Horton stressed that a goal of Verdani is to help building owners that don’t have the time or capacity to work on sustainability issues.

“Our goal is just to be in the trenches and help those teams that are trying to implement improving their portfolio,” Horton said, either  through corporate sustainability reporting, benchmarking for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, or certification by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

“We think that by providing tools and resources for them to act strategically, we can help them achieve quantum improvements into efficiency and corporate sustainability faster and more cost effectively,” Horton said.

Horton also discussed the LEED volume program that she is working on with the newly merged Parkway and Thomas Properties Group, Inc. She explained that the project involves working on about 30 properties nationwide, starting with those that are already fairly efficient and located in central business districts.  Horton added that work will also proceed to improve the rest of the portfolio and to develop a centralized tool for corporate sustainability that will serve as a hub to share information, resources, tools, best practices and collaboration.

Looking ahead, Horton observed that there is a huge push for transparency in sustainability, with more than 30 cities now having their own disclosure requirements. “This will reward owners who are already efficient and penalize owners who are not there yet,” she said.

She also emphasized the need for increased tenant engagement and technological improvements within buildings.