Real Estate Pioneers Honored

by Ellen Sinreich on October 29, 2014

I’m delighted to share that I was recognized last week as a “Pioneering Woman in Real Estate.”

Eleven (female) co-honorees and I were selected for outstanding accomplishments in real estate, a field still dominated by men.

It was a great feeling to share this honor with an amazing group of women who are making a difference in the real estate industry. Together we represented just about every aspect of the profession, including development, architecture, construction, sustainability, law, brokerage and marketing.

The leadership demonstrated by our group ranged from entrepreneurs who have built substantial, impactful firms to senior executives in well-established, global behemoths. Together we are having an impact on projects throughout the country including the redevelopment of the World Trade Center here in lower Manhattan as well as the construction, leasing and marketing of industrial, office and retail properties from New Jersey to California.

Ellen Sinreich Pioneer in Real Estate

Corporate business leaders, entrepreneurs, real estate professionals, philanthropists and politicians gathered at Club 101 in NYC for the awards ceremony and were treated to keynote presentations by Sara Mirski, Executive Director of Real Estate Development at the Sapir Organization, and Mary Dietz, who is overseeing the design of the 500,000 square foot retail “hub” at the World Trade Center for Silverstein Properties.

Sara, Mary, and I, and our co-honorees are determined to help women continue to break through the so-called “glass ceiling” and add value throughout the real estate industry by consistently demonstrating extraordinary capability, unflagging work ethic and a sense of humor, through good, as well as challenging times.

The event was sponsored by Morgan Stanley and Silverstein Properties and a portion of the proceeds were donated to NEW: Nontraditional Employment for Women.



GRESB’s Global Experiment

by Ellen Sinreich on October 2, 2014

Earlier this month I attended the launch of GRESB’s 2014 Survey Results in New York City, while nearly simultaneous launches were taking place in Singapore and London.

GRESB, the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark was founded just five years ago. It is a leading source of portfolio-level sustainability data for the real estate industry and currently serves over 40 institutional investors, representing $5.5 trillion in assets under management.

Synopsis of the 2014 Survey Results

Respondents. 637 survey respondents submitted data covering 56,000 buildings throughout the world with an aggregate market value of $2.1 trillion. 156 were first time responders, who had an average score 11 points lower than the average for all participants combined.

Overall Results. The overall 2014 GRESB score of 47 out of a possible 100 points for all respondents combined increased 9% over the 2013 score. There was an increase of 23% in the areas of implementation and measurement that was offset by an 11% decrease in the areas of management and policy. Public companies on average achieved better results than private companies.

Growing Boy GRESB scores continue to grow but performance metrics lag


Regional Results. Australia and New Zealand’s 44 respondents were the highest achievers, followed by 111 European respondents, 92 Asian respondents, and last but quickly catching up, 51 North American respondents. Respondents were described as being from the region where at least 60% of their portfolio is located.

Scoring. 70% of each respondent’s score is based on its implementation and measurement performance and 30% is based on management and policy.

Disclosure and Risk Assessment. 84% of respondents now disclose their sustainability performance and 81% perform sustainability risk assessments as part of their standard acquisition due diligence process.

Monitoring. 95% of respondents measure energy consumption, 84% measure water consumption, 75% measure GHG emissions and 63% measure waste.

Performance. There was an overall reduction in energy consumption of 0.82% compared to the 2012-2013 reporting period, a 2.3% reduction in water consumption and a 0.31% reduction in GHG emissions. Comparative figures for overall reductions in waste were not available.

We’ve Still Got Work to Do

We are encouraged by the number of GRESB survey respondents and number of institutional investor members since GRESB was founded a mere five years ago. However the sustainability achievements of the 2014 survey respondents are less impressive. Compared to their achievements as measured by the 2013 survey, we are starkly reminded that a lot of work remains to be done to transform the global built environment to a meaningfully lower carbon footprint.

Do The Feds Finally Get It?

August 27, 2014

We are delighted to see that President Obama is finally focusing on the economic cost of delaying meaningful steps to mitigate climate change. In July, the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) issued a report that emphasizes the enormous economic incentive for expediting climate change mitigation activities. According to the report, for each degree of increased temperature that occurs as a result of delaying effective mitigation action (e.g., temperatures increase by 3 degrees Celsius vs 2 degrees Celsius) we will bear annual incremental costs estimated at 0.9% of global output. To put this in perspective, the authors warn us that 0.9% of U.S. output in 2014 is estimated to be approximately $150B. In addition, the report continues, research suggests […]

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Texas Takes the Lead

August 1, 2014

Texas, the Lone Star State that many equate with oil and gas rather than renewable energy, has just completed one of the largest networks of high-voltage power lines to transmit wind energy in the country. Totaling 3,600 miles, this sprawling network will connect wind farms in the windy, low-density West Texas Panhandle to millions of households in the high-density metro areas of Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin and Houston. Built to handle 18,000 megawatts, 7,000 megawatts of wind turbine capacity is already under construction. Contrary to the more typical scenario of building transmission infrastructure to accommodate demand, the Texas state legislature took a “build it and they will come” approach in 2005, when legislation was passed enabling the Texas Public Utility Commission […]

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Summer Specials…

July 1, 2014

I am often asked: “How can we make money or save money by going green?” Answers range from reducing operational costs to increasing overall productivity and top line revenues. This summer we welcome market confirmation of a meaningful opportunity for real estate owners to make money by greening their properties and a new regulatory imperative that will ultimately make not going green even more costly for them than it is now. Market Edict: Carbon-Enhance Your Properties The value creation opportunity is one we have been championing for years: green buildings are inherently more valuable than their more traditional peers. This was confirmed in the public debt market with the recent pricing of a so-called green bond offering by Regency Centers, […]

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Energy, Money & Law

June 16, 2014

At the upcoming Energy, Money & Law: Investment and Legal Strategies for Advanced Energy Performance in Real Estate conference, my co-panelists and I will be discussing how re-structuring traditional legal relationships can pave the way to financing large scale energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. As I have been saying for the better part of the past decade, greening our real estate relationships is a critical component to greening the built environment. A perfect example is the frequently encountered barrier to generating renewable energy at multi-tenant-occupied properties: the inability of the landlord to distribute the renewable energy to its tenants. Forward-thinking landlords and tenants should be addressing this and other green-related issues in their leases so that both parties can reduce costs […]

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Don’t Get Stuck

May 27, 2014

A lot has been written recently about the costs that companies are incurring and the risks they are facing as a result of climate change. A recent survey of top multinationals by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) revealed that higher operating and capital costs and reduced demand for goods and services are the most common impacts of changing and severe weather patterns, rising sea levels and the volatility and uncertainty of resource availability. These costs and risks are just as important for the real estate industry as they are for the ConAgra’s, Pepsico’s and HP’s of the world that responded to the CDP survey. One critical way for real estate companies to mitigate this exposure is to make sure they […]

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Strange Bedfellows

May 3, 2014

It’s been said that politics makes for strange bedfellows. Well the same rings true for climate change solutions. We’re seeing some very interesting alliances between the public and private sectors when it comes to developing and deploying potentially game changing climate change solutions. IBM, Zapopan, Mexico, and 115 Other Cities Around the World Take for example IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge. In 2011 IBM committed to provide $50M in smart technology solutions to cities across the globe to help those cities use resources more efficiently. Five areas were targeted: smart energy, smart water, smart transportation, smart buildings and smart government. Progress in any of these areas means climate change solutions that result in carbon footprint reductions. Over 100 cities ranging from […]

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Small Steps, Big Results

March 28, 2014

While big, hairy, audacious goals help propel us toward achieving transformational results when it comes to climate change solutions, often it’s a series of less-than-monumental, incremental achievements that actually result in those transformations. Over the past decade, the transformation of retail real estate to a lower carbon footprint has ranged from “not happening” to “slow and grudging.” Retail real estate industry professionals were definitely latecomers to the green building party. While there were many reasons for this, there was really no good enough reason, and lately the dynamics are shifting. In addition to the zero net energy use store that Walgreens opened in November, the record number of solar installations that Walmart completed in 2013 and the great strides in […]

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Choices & Decisions

February 26, 2014

For those in the real estate industry who are greening their properties, portfolios and companies, there are difficult decisions to be made when it comes to third-party green certifications. As the green building movement becomes both broader and more deeply rooted, an increasing number of green ranking systems has materialized to help real estate organizations and their stakeholders — tenants, investors, lenders, and regulators — evaluate their environmental efforts. Although this proliferation of green ranking systems is a testament to the remarkable transition of sustainability from a fringe movement to a mainstream concern, both the real estate subjects of the ranking systems, and their stakeholders to whom the rankings are directed, are often confused as they navigate the different systems. […]

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