Tenant Engagement Bolsters Sustainability, Federal Realty Executive Says

Chris Brown, sustainability manager at Federal Realty Investment Trust (NYSE: FRT), 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.

Brown explained that Federal Realty is a unique retail REIT because about a third of the portfolio is comprised of mixed-use properties. The variety of tenants creates a range of different sustainability needs, he said. The process of crafting unique sustainability solutions enables Federal Realty to better understand its real estate assets and also forge a closer relationship with its tenants, Brown said.

“That gives us a great toolbag for our leasing and operations and development and property management folks to use to help get this critical tenant buy-in and ensure that projects go well,” he said.

Brown highlighted a number of areas where Federal Realty is working directly with tenants on unique sustainability efforts. He pointed out that in California, the Federal Realty team has been working to reduce water usage. The company engaged its tenants to take steps including saving bar ice and capturing shower water. Water used on construction sites has also been repurposed for use elsewhere on the property, Brown added.

At the company’s Assembly Row development in Boston, the team worked to bring the first LEED building to Somerville, Massachusetts. Other projects at Assembly Row include the development of solar-powered cell phone charging stations, he added.

In addition, Federal Realty has piloted a program with a local community group and tenants to develop a rooftop farming project at its Bethesda Row development in Bethesda, Maryland. Produce grown on the rooftop is served at a nearby restaurant, and the project has been “very well-received,” he noted.

Looking ahead, Brown said Federal Realty is adding 12 new solar sites to its portfolio. The company also sees a continued role for automated meter reading, which allows both tenants and landlords to control their utility use, according to Brown.