Corporate sustainability doesn’t stop with energy

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Michael Jordan
Strategic Planning for CRE Sustainability Programs 

Considering that real estate is one of the biggest expenses on most companies’ balance sheets, corporate real estate (CRE) executives don’t always get a lot of recognition from senior management. Sustainability represents a golden opportunity for CRE departments to demonstrate their business leadership.  


–  Every large company I know is getting questions from customers about sustainability performance.  CRE’s central role in managing carbon emissions creates an opportunity to influence revenue.  CRE leaders should be resourced to do a good job on these questionnaires and should be doing presentations on your program in the customer briefing center.

–  Employees care about recycling, commuting, and office features like air quality, thermal comfort, lighting quality, and acoustics.  The role of the work environment integrated with soft services has become more of a weapon in talent retention and attraction.

–  Location decisions for datacenters and other critical environments can create hidden risk from changes to weather patterns.   CRE directors need more comprehensive Geographic Information System data than ever before.  Not to mention knowing how to use on-site power generation to mitigate energy supply risks in parts of the world with less reliable grid systems. (Please don’t tell me you think the electric grid is keeping up with demand around the world!)

CRE directors who think sustainability starts and ends with reducing energy consumption and cost are behind the curve.  Sustainability from CRE also has an impact on corporate travel cost/carbon, healthcare costs, and employee retention costs.  Whether sustainability matters to the CRE director personally is irrelevant—it influences employees, customers and shareholders and is informing regulatory decisions around the world.  Addressing green issues proactively in line with corporate goals is one of the best ways for a CRE team to add bottom-line value and to be an effective member of the C-suite.

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