Mona Benisi, senior director of sustainability at Simon Property Group, Inc. (NYSE:SPG), joined REIT.com for a video interview at NAREIT’s 2016 Leader in the Light Working Forum at the Ritz Carlton – Coconut Grove in Miami.
Benisi noted that Simon has been active in sustainability issues for quite some time now. Whereas the original focus was on energy management, Simon has recently been revisiting the area as sustainability matters have become more entrenched in the industry.
“We now have a more holistic focus,” she said, which focuses on properties, customers, communities and employees. In each of these areas Simon has specific goals, Benisi added.
Benisi also explained that Simon has made changes to its sustainability governance structure to make sure that sustainability is embedded throughout the organization.
To that end, Simon now has sustainability executive committee working groups and a sustainability field network to ensure the company is managing sustainability in the most efficient way, according to Benisi.
Meanwhile, Benisi stressed that sustainability standards have a link to how institutions value REIT sustainability activities.
After evaluating many different types of reporting guidelines, Simon opted for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Benisi said.
“The landscape of reporting guidelines is not at the point where a lot of us in the industry would hope it to be,” she noted. However, Benisi stressed that GRI is well-respected and offers flexibility to report on matters that are most important for a company and its stakeholders.
GRI also has a component that allows for comparison within sectors, she said. “That’s a good combination.”