REIT Executives Lay Out Roadmap for Sustainability in Near Term

REIT.com was on hand at NAREIT’s 2015 Leader in the Light Working Forum in Reston, Va., to talk with attendees about the future of sustainability in real estate.

“I think we’ve moved from sustainability being the right thing to do to being more critical,” said Daniele Horton, head of sustainability at Parkway Properties, Inc. (NYSE: PKY).

Bennett Thomas, vice president of finance and sustainability at Hersha Hospitality Trust (NYSE: HT), highlighted the role global organizations are playing in promoting sustainability transparency. He pointed to the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) and its investor members that represent about $ 5.5 trillion of institutional capital. “We’re definitely paying attention to that,” Thomas said.

Mark Peternell, vice president for sustainability with Regency Centers Corp. (NYSE: REG), also emphasized the increased demand for transparency, both at the corporate and asset level.

Meanwhile, Marla Thalheimer, director of sustainability at Liberty Property Trust (NYSE: LRY), predicted that a building’s performance data may become accessible in the future simply by taking a photo of the property with a smartphone.

According to Will Teichman, director of sustainability at Kimco Realty Corp. (NYSE: KIM), “tenant engagement is really the next frontier.” He said more landlords are looking for tenants’ help to operate more efficiently.

“The vast amount of energy use that occurs on a Kimco property happens inside the building, and it’s driven by what our tenants are doing,” he said.

Michael Chang, director of energy and sustainability at Host Hotels & Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: HST), observed Host’s management companies have been exploring ways to get guests involved in sustainability. “I see more of a focus on guest engagement and how they can help us reduce energy consumption at our properties,” he said.

Tom Klaritch, executive vice president of medical office properties at HCP, Inc. (NYSE: HCP), said he expects to see change on the regulatory side in the form of mandatory ratings of buildings.

John Forester, director of energy and sustainability at REIT Management & Research LLC, called for commercial property brokers “to step up into the commercial sustainability box and commit to learning” about sustainability, then using that information to market their assets.