SR Inc. to Convene Corporate/Commercial Real Estate Executives and Drive an Industry Closer to Greater Sustainability

November 12, 2011

The Sustainability Roundtable, Inc. (SR Inc.), the for-profit, shared cost research and consulting firm will bring together corporate/commercial real estate executives and sustainability professionals who represent over 60 member-client organizations at SR Inc.’s Third Annual Summit entitled, “The Change Driving Sustainability” on November 30th and December 1st at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington D.C.

This invitation only two-day event will feature: sustainability excellence award winners; presentations and case studies of SR Inc.’s 2011 Research Program; panel discussions with Federal agency representatives; and, facilitated sessions to develop SR Inc.’s 2012 Research Program.

Management Best Practice Sessions will include:

Portfolio-wide Sustainability Strategies: What strategies do Real Estate Executives use to resource and create sustainable value. (Includes Innovative Finance for Energy Efficiency)

Benchmarking Sustainability: What sustainability KPIs should Leaders adopt and what are the relevant performance benchmarks.

Sustainable Leased Space: How Leaders move to more sustainable leased space? How Tenants and Landlords systematically implement green leases and what provisions in RFPs, LOIs and Leases are used.

Alternative Workplace Strategies: What AWS strategies are successfully adopted to increase productivity and how can landlord’s best respond.

Working with the Federal Government: What are the best sustainability resources available within the Federal Government and how can Real Estate Executives partner with them.

The collaboration of SR Inc.’s member-clients supported by SR Inc.’s analysts, researchers, consultants and advisors is rapidly driving the real estate industry toward greater sustainability with breakthrough management best practices about ‘what works’ to apply the principles of sustainable real estate strategies across a portfolio that reduce operating expenses/occupancy costs; enhance enterprise/asset value; and align with organizations’ commitment to the environment.

If you would like to learn more about SR Inc.’s Annual Summit III or how SR Inc.’s resources and implementation guidance could help you drive your organization closer to sustainability, contact SR Inc.’s Larry Simpson, Executive Vice President – Advisory Services at

(The author is Larry Simpson, Executive Vice President, Advisory Services, Sustainability Roundtable, Inc. Additional posts can be found in SR Inc.’s Forum found at



“Are Your Buildings’ Indoor Air Quality Impacting Workforce Productivity?”

September 28, 2011

They just might be…

Various factors over the past decade have led to greater adoption of strategies to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in office buildings as part of an overall sustainability portfolio program.

A growing body of scientific knowledge has raised awareness about the increased health risks for employees which lead to potentially significant liabilities, increased absenteeism, and reduced productivity.

New regulations and standards to improve IAQ have prompted greater adoption of IAQ strategies by leading companies, as have green building certification criteria that require addressing IEQ in order to obtain certification. The emergence of advanced green technologies, no- and low-emission green cleaning products, PVC-free carpet and water-based paints, have enabled leading companies to implement IAQ source-control strategies at a reduced cost with significant returns on investment.

At a recent client-meeting of the Sustainability Roundtable, Inc. (SR Inc.), Georgia Tech’s Dr. Charlene Bayer, who leads the ‘Health in Buildings Roundtable’, and SR Inc.’s Michael Gresty presented findings of their latest research on, “Managing Indoor Quality” which identified the link between IAQ and worker productivity. The highlights of the published research found:

•       Leading corporate users pursue IAQ management as part of their portfolio-wide sustainability strategy to reduce employee absenteeism and health care costs, improve productivity, reduce liability and regulatory risk, and improve brand and reputation.

•       Commercial real estate owners address IAQ management to improve competitiveness and ability to attract and retain tenants, increase property values, and reduce liability and regulatory risk.

•       Cost-benefit analysis has demonstrated the significant paybacks from improvements in building design, operation, and maintenance that address IAQ. Such improvements “may often exceed the costs by a factor of ten or more because worker salaries and benefits greatly exceed the costs to provide and operate buildings.”

•       Leading executives implement source reduction as the primary strategy for improved IAQ, establish policies for the use of ‘green’ construction materials in renovations and upgrades (e.g., carpets, paints, and furniture), utilize green cleaning chemicals and ban smoking inside and near buildings.

•       Leaders recognize the benefits of increased ventilation to dilute indoor contaminants and implement ventilation rates above the code requirements. Demand controlled ventilation, natural ventilation, mixed-mode ventilation, inclusion of enhanced filtration (both particulate and gas-phase), operational improvements and preventive maintenance are all proven approaches to reduce both energy costs and health complaints.

•       Leading companies monitor key indoor air contaminants like CO, CO2, ozone, particulate matter, and VOCs, and go beyond the mandatory and guideline limits to improve IAQ.

The research features case studies from Steelcase’s Corporate Development Center in Michigan; the Ridgehaven Office Building in San Diego, CA; the Philip Merrill Environmental Center in Annapolis MD; Royal Bank Building in Winnipeg, Canada; and, Georgia Tech’s campus buildings in Atlanta GA.

The research also provided recommended approaches to manage IAQ and improve indoor air quality in new or existing buildings that included:

  1. Source reduction
  2. Implement humidity control
  3. Increase fresh air ventilation rate and overall air distribution in the space
  4. Use enhanced filtration systems
  5. Improved building maintenance
  6. Behavior modification, occupant education

SR Inc.’s research demonstrates the importance to address indoor air quality as part of an overall sustainability strategy that is designed to create a healthier workplace for your company’s most valuable resource, your workforce.

If you would like to receive an Executive Summary of the research, “Managing Indoor Air Quality” please contact SR Inc.’s Larry Simpson, Executive Vice President, Advisory Services at or call 508-946-4750.

(The author is Larry Simpson, Executive Vice President, Sustainability Roundtable, Inc. Additional posts can be found in SR Inc.’s Forum found at

Yes, You Can Achieve Greater Sustainability in Leased Space

June 6, 2011

Many top companies have developed a sustainability strategy to enhance enterprise value, reduce operating expenses, limit risk, and align with stakeholder expectations.

Corporate real estate portfolios, which typically consist mostly of leased space, are often keystones in these strategies, as real estate leaders seek to improve operational efficiencies, reduce environmental impacts, and create work environments conducive to productivity and retaining/recruiting top talent.

While the move to more sustainable leased space is gathering momentum, many challenges remain. Recent research by the Sustainability Roundtable, Inc. (SR Inc.), entitled “How Leaders are Moving to More Sustainable Leased Space,” cited the following barriers to implementation: 

  • Perceived cost premium for more sustainable space
  • Limited tenant leverage in smaller leases
  • Lack of relevant KPIs, benchmarks and metrics
  • Few reliable sources of information about best practices
  • Lack of a single solution and the need for incremental innovation
  • High hurdle rates based on ROI expectations

The research includes information on best practices on ‘green leases,’ and features case studies from Gensler, Brandywine Realty Trust, Equity Office, Akamai Technologies, Autodesk, and the General Services Administration.

Discussing the research findings, Michael Gresty, SR Inc.’s Executive Vice President of Research and Consulting, notes that, “leading companies have found ways to design, build and even certify more sustainable leased space at little or no cost premium. The most experienced among them, such as Adobe, are consistently pursuing LEED-CI Platinum level certification, because they have proven that the benefits exceed those of basic certification. However, the barriers to adoption identified in our research are real, and can only be overcome by persistent efforts and greater collaboration between corporate tenants and landlords, and further efforts to negotiate win-win solutions in green leases.” 

The key takeaways of the research presentation include:

Leased Space is an Opportunity not an Obstacle – Tenants and landlords can find common ground based on sustainability to reduce costs, risks, and, together, create enterprise value.

Adapt to Mainstreaming of Sustainability – Corporate Tenants, Investors, Advisors, and Owners, recognize that sustainability has become a mainstream concern, that there is no cost premium, and they can innovate within their organizations to adapt.

Overcome Market Barriers – Tenants and landlords still face institutional and cultural barriers to more sustainable leased space; leaders have adopted proven strategies to overcome them, including ‘green’ leases.

Develop an Integrated Strategy – Companies that adopt a cross-disciplinary strategy using Integrated Project Delivery methodology rather than trying to ‘green’ conventional design and management methodologies can maximize sustainable value.

If you would like to receive a copy of the presentation, email Larry Simpson at

(The author is Larry Simpson, Executive Vice President, Sustainability Roundtable, Inc.  who can be reached at Additional posts can be found in SR Inc.’s Forum found at )

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

March 18, 2010

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.”