Turning Intention Into Action

March, 2024

This past month I had the pleasure of attending IMN’s ESG and Decarbonizing Real Estate Forum in Nashville, alongside my colleagues from RE Tech Advisors.  IMN’s forums bring together leaders across the real estate industry to drive thought leadership and action. That resonated with me as well as the resounding theme, whether embedded within the keynotes, the networking opportunities, or the education sessions was Turning Intention Into Action.  We heard from leaders in the investment community, including RE Tech clients, Starwood Capital and LXP, and the partners that support them, on how they’re practically advancing portfolio-level sustainability and ESG initiatives by:  

Creating a plan.  Planning is something that often gets shortchanged but is incredibly important to the overall success of a program. Set goals and when your organization is ready to launch into action be sure to identify interim milestones along the way.  Assemble key stakeholders. Recognize potential risks, including current policies and regulations as well as any forthcoming ones.

Data, data, data.  Nothing great is built on rocky ground.  Collection and confidence in utility and operational data is essential, which may require direct communication with utility companies to obtain your data.  Establishing a data governance approach and quality control methodologies for comparing portfolio-wide datasets is paramount. If those capabilities do not exist in house, find a partner who not only helps to ingest and improve the data quality, but more importantly, helps you to get insights, scenario plan and action items from it. 

Taking action.  Seek partners and tools to assist in determining the risk models in which to evaluate your portfolio.  Identify the opportunities with the biggest impact, which often reduces the list to 5-10 priority assets in which to direct capital expenditures.

Reporting, communicating, and celebrating.  Validating sustainability performance and progress through benchmarking and reporting frameworks such as GRESB allows for standardization within peer groups. Best of a Mine your program for stories, whether that is an improved GRESB score, achievement of net zero buildings or significant carbon reductions in a key location. Finally, celebrate those achievements with an annual corporate sustainability report. 

Staying the course (and ignoring the noise).  In these polarizing days, sustainability and ESG are simply about making solid business decisions to improve performance and reduce risk.  Tying all efforts back to value couldn’t be more essential to evade the naysayers and simply moving the needle forward. 

Easy, right?  (Shameless plug for RE Tech, who successfully supports clients through the steps above!) If you want to speak with an expert about what your journey could look like, reach out to us. We have advised over 100 clients with over 22,000 buildings and $1.5 Trillion AUM turning their intentions into action!