Chris Oftedal, senior regional manager and director of sustainability at Weingarten Realty (NYSE: WRI), participated in a video interview at Nareit’s ESG Forum 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs, Florida.
Oftedal discussed Green Forward, Weingarten’s program to implement and track its sustainability initiatives, launched in 2013. He said that Weingarten has been happy with its efforts on the social aspect of the program.
“We developed a wellness program for our associates that’s been very [well-received]. Associates can attend different classes [and] earn points for it,” Oftedal said. He said that the REIT also participates in Trees for Houston, a local tree-planting campaign, as well as a recycling campaign for associates and the community.
“A big part…is the involvement with our associates, tenants, and the community,” he said of the ESG program, which has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Alliance as a Green Lease Leader.
Oftedal said educating stakeholders about the benefits of ESG efforts has made it easier for Weingarten to effectively use green leases and launch portfolio-wide sustainability initiatives.
“That’s education internally with our company and also with the tenants,” he said, noting that an ESG program is not only the “right thing to do,” but also worthwhile from a financial standpoint.