REIT Sustainability Executive Sees Progress in Data Collection Methods

John Forester, director of energy and sustainability at REIT Management & Research LLC, joined REIT.com for a video interview at NAREIT’s 2015 Leader in the Light Working Forum in Reston, Va.

REIT Management & Research is a private company that manages publicly traded REITs. Forester noted that the company has sought to improve the process of collecting and aggregating data across its asset base by investing in a new platform that allows for the collection of information “other than what is typically shown on an invoice.”

The platform allows REIT Management & Research to import budget and occupancy information, for example, “to give us a better picture of how the portfolio’s performing on the asset level and at the group level,” Forester said.

Forester also commented on the importance of sustainability benchmarking.

In general, benchmarking “lets us know if our programs or initiatives are improving that performance metric and putting that managed asset on a path for growth,” Forester explained. Sustainability benchmarking, as defined by the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), “is important to us as a tool to help us align the key metrics that industry are looking for with the programs we provide,” Forester said.

Meanwhile, Forester said tenants are asking for energy and water data so they can calculate their carbon footprints and report that information to their corporate offices. “To me, this is a trend that shows that enterprise level reporting is gaining traction,” he said.

Furthermore, energy and water benchmarking ordinances continue to expand, according to Forester: “We want to stay on top of those areas that require those reporting metrics and make sure we comply.”

At the same time, the process of sharing information with tenants promotes the landlord-tenant relationship, Forester said.

Requests for sustainability information from shareholders are less common, Forester noted. “However, we do see that increasing in the future and we want to make sure that we stay ahead of the curve on having that information,” he said.