Thalheimer Says More Investors Interested in Sustainability Efforts
04/18/2013 | by Carisa Chappell
Marla Thalheimer, director of sustainability with Liberty Property Trust (NYSE: LRY), joined for a video interview at NAREIT’s 2013 Leader in the Light Working Forum in La Quinta, Calif. 

Liberty Property Trust owns 81.3 million square feet of office and industrial space in more than 21 markets throughout the United States and the United Kingdom. The REIT was founded in 1972 and is headquartered outside of Philadelphia.

Thalheimer spoke about Liberty Property’s increased body of knowledge regarding sustainability and involvement in sustainability initiatives. 

“I think it’s really terrific that we’re seeing more and more REITs get involved,” she said. “It’s showing how important it is to our stakeholders, in addition to the climate. Tenants are starting to ask for it, and investors are starting to ask for it.”

Thalheimer also offered advice to REITs that are in the early stages of sustainability efforts.

“It’s important that we don’t think of sustainability as a one-time initiative or a department that were setting up. It really needs to be how we run our buildings. We need to look at our operational practices and what we’re doing, and then think about incorporating it into making a better building as a whole, as opposed to just one green initiative,” she said.

Thalheimer said  Liberty has a number of processes and metrics for measuring its energy usage. The company was also recently named Energy Star Partner of the Year for the second consecutive year. 

Certifications such as Energy Star and LEED can offer value in attracting tenants, but Thalheimer said rental rate increases resulting from certification are harder to define.

“I think we are seeing it in some markets, particularly in our urban markets. It’s more a piece of the bigger pie, but it is valuable. It’s a little bit harder to tell in a suburban building. The suburban building may or may not get that higher rental rate,” she said. “But I think the higher occupancy rate tells the story that there is value."