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 larrysimpson@sustainround.com.

(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 http://www.sustainround.com/aboutst/blog/)

 


“Green Leasing” Tools Evolve from Infancy to Maturity in the Move to Greater Sustainability

October 23, 2011

The movement to greater sustainability in leased space took an important step forward following a recent Sustainability Roundtable, Inc. (SR Inc.) Member-Client webinar. The event presented research, case studies and introduced a newly developed “green leasing” toolkit that will enable corporate occupiers and owners/investors to achieve sustainable excellence.

The increased adoption of “green leases” is playing a transformational role to streamline the greening process. One of the centerpieces of the SR Inc. webinar detailed a more sustainable leasing strategy with seven fundamental preferences in decision making:

  1. Develop a portfolio-wide optimization strategy
  2. Integrate alternative workplace strategies
  3. Seek space in transportation adjacent existing buildings
  4. Weigh renewal options
  5. Weigh long-term lease options
  6. Seek buildings with a third-party certified commitment to sustainability
  7. Collaborate with landlords and tenants to advance greater sustainability

The most important aspect of the webinar was the introduction of a “Green Leasing” toolkit. These tools were introduced in DRAFT form pending SR Inc. Member-Client input/comment and are designed to be used by corporate directors of real estate and portfolio managers in the final phase of sustainable corporate real estate selection – the green lease itself. The tools within the toolkit included:

Site Selection Tool – outlines the steps to select a landlord with a commitment to sustainability and a site that has already achieved LEED, ENERGY STAR certification or a willingness to achieve sustainability certification.

Request for Proposal Tool – identifies tenant requirements for sustainability practices and distinguishes which green terms may be structured into the lease documents.

Letter of Intent Tool – highlights a tenant’s key green or sustainable lease issues and includes which green terms may be structured into the final lease document.

In addition to the green leasing guidance toolkit, SR Inc.’s breakthrough tools offer sample lease language for: 

  • LEED or Other Green Building Certification
  • Base Rent, Operating, and Capital Expenses
  • Utility Consumption and Metering
  • Data Collection and Information Sharing
  • Waste Stream Management, Recycling and Janitorial Services
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Parking and Alternative Transportation
  • Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy
  • Construction Obligations and Tenant Improvements
  • Special Remedies for Violation of Green Lease Provisions

Overall, the toolkit emphasizes that a successful green lease is the result of a comprehensive negotiation process, in which sustainability practices are deliberately embedded in each phase of the lease lifecycle. The lease should reflect and memorialize the sustainability goals and obligations of both landlord and tenant as negotiated through prior documents.

The tools were developed in conjunction with SR Inc.’s Full Report – “More Sustainable Leased Space,” the “Global Sustainable Facilities Guidebook” for corporate occupiers and the “Global Guidebook on Sustainable Properties” for owners/investors.

In addition to the presentation of the SR Inc.’s newly developed toolkit there was a highly interactive discussion with comments from corporate executives at Apollo Group, AutoDesk, CapitalOne, Cisco, Intuit, McKesson, Mitre and Symantec as well as owner/occupier, Brandywine Realty Trust.

The movement to greater sustainability is evolving from its infancy with the leadership of innovative corporate and commercial real estate executives. And, now with tools developed by SR Inc. sustainability in leased space is becoming more cost effective and much easier to achieve.

If you would like to download the program presentation and an Executive Summary of “More Sustainable Leased Space” visit www.sustainround.com. To learn how SR Inc. can help organizations achieve greater sustainability portfolio-wide, please contact Larry Simpson, SR Inc.’s Executive Vice President of Advisory Services at larrysimpson@sustainround.com.

(The author is Larry Simpson, Executive Vice President, Sustainability Roundtable, Inc. Additional posts can be found in SR Inc.’s Forum found at http://www.sustainround.com/aboutst/blog/)


It’s not Rocket Science or Brain Surgery, its Corporate Real Estate Budgeting for Greater Sustainable Outcomes

August 22, 2011

Summertime, right? Time for vacation with family and to regroup before the blur of activity in the post-Labor Day fourth quarter? Wrong.

For most of you, the month of August is about hungering down in a conference room converted, “war room” with co-workers crunching numbers to prepare your real estate budget for departmental and corporate approval.

As you know, the budgeting season can be a tedious process to track down information, project internal charge-back costs to offset expenses, calculate macro interest rates, collect data from various systems and sources, and project/reconcile budget-to-actuals.

But, you don’t have to go visit a rocket scientist or ask a brain surgeon to know we are still amidst difficult financial times for most companies and budgeting is getting more and more difficult. The challenges you face are how to reduce operating expenses and enhance asset/enterprise value. But, now you’re being asked more and more to align the real estate portfolio with corporate environmental goals while achieving an acceptable rate of return.

How are you going to do find monies in your budget to create a sustainability strategy with so much less? The Sustainability Roundtable, Inc. (SR Inc.) and their most recent research just might have some of the answers.

SR Inc., in their report, “Allocating Resources for Sustainable Outcomes” found that:

  • Sustainability upgrades can have a substantial impact on the enterprise bottom-line to reduce operating and maintenance costs, mitigate carbon impact, improve employee productivity and increase asset value.
  • Capital allocations to improve indoor environmental quality can be more cost-effective and create greater enterprise value than energy conservation and efficiency investments.
  • Determining the relevant metrics and qualifying some sustainability key performance indicators (KPI) is difficult but methods are emerging measure intangible benefits.
  • Base financial models such as simple payback and ROI are inadequate to assess the real costs and benefits of most sustainability projects.
  • Energy performance can be benchmarked, monitored and evaluated, and therefore energy efficiency upgrades are high-priority for innovative finance programs.

But, you don’t own all of your facilities and have little control on the pass through expenses from your landlords in your current lease. SR Inc. has conducted some breakthrough research in a report entitled, “More Sustainable Leased Space,” where the adoption of ‘green lease’ language and other measures can help you achieve greater sustainability and reduce occupancy expenses. The research found:

  • To overcome conflicting priorities and the barriers that hinder the move to more sustainable leased space, leading companies develop a strong business case aligned with corporate goals, conduct total lifecycle accounting, adopt “green” leases, and gather data for sustainability KPIs to benchmark internally and externally.
  • Many corporate tenants pursue LEED-CI or BREEAM interiors to reinforce credibility, provide brand recognition and engage employees/clients. To avoid administrative burdens of formal certification but still obtain the benefits, some choose to ‘design to LEED-CI’ but not certify.
  • To achieve cost-effective sustainable leased space and certification, CRE leaders give preference to those buildings that are ENERGY STAR rated or whose landlord has demonstrated a commitment to sustainability.

SR Inc.’s Vice President of Research and Consulting, Irina Mladenova claims, “overestimating certification costs and setting unrealistically high hurdle rates based on a simple payback analysis are typically the biggest barriers in the move towards more sustainable leased space. When real estate executives hire consultants to lower the documentation and filing cost but do not overpay them and when a life-cycle cost analysis rather than a simple payback analysis is used to establish hurdle rates, the additional costs to achieving green building certification is in fact far less (0-2%) than many real estate professionals assume. And, there is an increasing recognition that green buildings result in significant, yet hard to quantify, health and productivity benefits.”

The challenge to find monies in your budget for sustainable real estate is no longer a cost benefit trade-off. The budgeting process may be arduous but, there is clear evidence that you can achieve a more sustainable real estate portfolio by allocating resources where they will have the greatest impact and implement initiatives that are more about changing behavior than being capital intensive. And, besides, budgeting for sustainable outcomes is a heck of lot easier than rocket science and brain surgery.

If you would like to learn more about how you can create a budget with greater sustainable outcomes you can download SR Inc.’s research: “More Sustainable Leased Space,” (http://sustainround.com/research/leasedSpace.php);  and for a copy of “Allocating Resources for Sustainable Outcomes” please contact Larry Simpson, EVP of Advisory Services at larrysimpson@sustainround.com.

(The author is Larry Simpson, Executive Vice President, Sustainability Roundtable, Inc.  who can be reached at larrysimpson@sustainround.com. Additional posts can be found in SR Inc.’s Forum found at http://www.sustainround.com/forum/ )


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 larrysimpson@sustainround.com.

(The author is Larry Simpson, Executive Vice President, Sustainability Roundtable, Inc.  who can be reached at larrysimpson@sustainround.com. Additional posts can be found in SR Inc.’s Forum found at http://www.sustainround.com/forum/ )