The Key to True Sustainability in Real Estate: An Integrated, Full-Life-Cycle Approach.
Did you know that buildings are responsible for 29% of US CO2 emissions?
That stark statistic makes it clear that real estate owners and operators of all kinds must redouble their focus on improving building sustainability in the years to come. But, since sustainability can mean so many different things, what does that look like in practice? The following article provides various examples of what it looks like to us, and outlines some of the lessons we’ve learned while focusing on this critical issue.
Property-level initiatives of all kinds can have a valuable impact. In 2020, Ponce City Market earned a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Business designation, an important milestone in an effort that started during the redevelopment of the property. Before the Atlanta BeltLine was bustling with activity, Jamestown had a vision that many Ponce City Market tenants and visitors would be arriving by bike. After the unprecedented installation of over 500 bike parking spaces and Atlanta’s first bike valet, the property has had to continue to add bike racks to accommodate an ever-growing number of cyclists. In addition to common amenities such as bike storage, a repair station, showers for bicycle commuters, and elevators and hallways that can accommodate bikes, Ponce City Market hosts bike safety events and participates in Bike to Work Day to help encourage safe cycling. Jamestown has also focused on programming to make cycling a more attractive commute option. Through Jamestown’s Clean Commute Program, employees can receive a subsidy for cycling to work and are eligible for a monthly bike share membership if used for business purposes. Some of these measures support Ponce City Market’s LEED Gold certification, but others, such as the honey bee hives that are home to 18,000 bees, are for the benefit of the tenants and the surrounding neighborhoods.
In April, Jamestown announced that over the next four years it will invest in significant energy upgrades at Levi’s Plaza in San Francisco to reach net zero carbon operations by 2025. The effort positions the property to be the first existing, large-scale commercial campus in the City of San Francisco to reach this milestone. The campus will effectively eliminate its use of fossil fuels through energy efficiency projects, purchasing 100 percent carbon-free electricity from the grid, and procuring carbon offsets. Home to more than two dozen companies, the creative campus will also begin self-supplying power with new onsite solar panels, making certain spaces net zero energy.
At Raleigh Iron Works – a new $150 million mixed-use destination that commenced construction earlier this year – sustainable design is a priority. The project, which is being brought to life by Jamestown and Grubb Ventures, will bring creative offices, retail, and residences to Raleigh’s Five Points, Person Street, and Mordecai neighborhoods. The initial phase of construction includes the renovation and repurposing of the historic Peden Steel mills and warehouses along with the construction of a new seven-story multifamily residential building.The development team behind this project is committed to strategic sustainability goals related to energy, water and waste, and is pursuing LEED for Neighborhood Development. Additionally, plans call for ample green space and a greenway connection that will promote accessibility to additional destinations without the need for a vehicle.
Raleigh Iron Works illustrates how developers, such as Jamestown, are actively integrating sustainable principles and features from the initial stages of development and will maintain them through the assets’ entire lifecycles.
In an effort to create a better future for tenants, residents, visitors, employees, and investors, Jamestown launched its sustainability group in 2008, and in response, hit the ground running to improve energy efficiency and sustainability across its entire portfolio.
Since then, Jamestown has successfully reached its initial 20% energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets early and set a new goal of net zero operational carbon emissions by 2050. To reach this goal, it’s utilizing a combination of energy efficiency measures, on-and off-site renewable energy sources and more. Knowing collaboration is essential to make a meaningful impact, Jamestown uses green leases with its tenants – so the costs associated with energy efficiency practices are shared. It also means Jamestown has a real stake in reducing energy usage as much as possible.
And, there is a strong business case for keeping sustainability at the forefront, one major reason being that employee satisfaction can be estimated up to 27% higher in a healthy building, and materials and indoor air quality are important aspects of occupant health.
No environmental issue is too big or too small: from installing bike facilities and beehives, to utilizing sustainable materials and greenery, to setting ambitions of reaching net zero energy usage, Jamestown is proactively building and fostering strong, resilient communities across the U.S. and around the world.