“Jump in, the water is fine: 3 CRE Case Studies in Moving Portfolios toward Sustainability”

The “greening of America” has been coming on for the past five years and reaching a fevered pitch as evidence with just about every corporate and consumer product and service marketing message that includes some reference to “green or eco-friendly.”

But, now the results are pouring in that adopting a “going green” strategy for corporate real estate is generating financial rewards that make it a good business strategy and not just good for the environment. The following are 3 examples of how companies have adopted strategies that reduce occupancy costs and move their portfolio closer to sustainability.


The CRE team established 3 primary goals for the proj­ect: create an empowering and inspiring work­place by embracing green design principles; educate employees on sustainability and encourage their awareness of the environment; and, deliver a highly flexible and functional space to accommodate fluctuations in occupancy and department size.

The project cut overall energy use by re-using existing HVAC systems and supple­menting them with a digital climate control system. Energy efficient lighting programs were employed including high-efficiency light fixtures, skylights, day lighting controls, individual task lighting and Energy Star appliances. Materials and finishes including floor cover­ings, ceiling tiles and millwork were selected based on renewable materials and recycled content. Exist­ing furnishings were re-used where possible, and new furnishings met strict standards of post-consumer recycled content.

These initiatives resulted in: reducing water usage by 40% through the installation of ultra low-flow water and waterless fixtures; recycling over 30,000 pounds of ceiling tiles; 82% of construction debris was diverted from the landfill; to maximize indoor air quality, paints, surface coatings, adhesives, sealants and carpet sys­tems used during construction produced low or no VOC emissions. Source: Wirt Design Group.


Toyota is seen as a leader in both car manufacturing, the green building industry and had developed an Earth Charter in 1992 outlining its policies on environmental attitudes and actions. The Charter is supported by a number of five year Environmental Action Plans that provide specific environmental goals and targets. The ‘Process Green’ initiative, developed by its CRE and Facilities Department, requires the development of an environmental strategy before any new facilities project is undertaken. The 3 principles of ‘Process Green’ are: procure and use resources in the most environmentally intelligent, cost-effective and reliable manner possible; participate in public, private, and professional organizations to share knowledge and accomplishments; and, pay it forward to affect a similar shift in the organization and culture of the business partners.

These 3 principles were used in the design and construction of its Portland Vehicle Distribution Center in the USA, which reduced energy consumption by 33% and water consumption by 75% in comparison with a conventional building and resulted in a gold LEED rating. Source: RICS “Sustainability and Corporate Real Estate.”

PNC Financial Services Group

PNC has become a leader in the move to sustainability by promoting the positive economic benefits and productivity impact of Green (Sustainable) Buildings and why building green makes sense for corporate America.  One prominent example is the construction of PNC’s Firstside Center, one of the largest certified green buildings in the world, and the collaborated efforts to obtain a LEEDTM Silver Certification.

PNC adopted a green building policy and has developed a new bank branch prototype that follows LEEDTM building standards.  PNC has built the first LEEDTM certified building in the state of Delaware and the first green bank branch in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio.  PNC currently has the most certified green buildings of any corporation in the United States and is the first company to qualify under the USGBC volume build program.  PNC also has the largest corporate LEEDTM certified green building in the world and recently completed the construction of a 780,000 SF mixed used project in downtown Pittsburgh including office space, hotel, condominiums and parking garage that will be LEEDTM certified.  The Fairmont Hotel, scheduled to open at the end of March will be the country’s first major flag Green Hotel. Source: Presentation by PNC’s Gary Saulson, Director of Corporate Real Estate.

These are just 3 of many examples of how companies are implementing corporate real estate sustainability strategies that have achieved a dramatic financial impact.

How about you? As a CRE professional, have you implemented strategies that have yielded results you’d like to share?

And, if haven’t, what are you waiting for? “Jump in, the water is fine.”


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