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Sustainable Achievements

Five Years of the Yardi Energy Efficiency Grants

By Denise LeDuc-Froemming, CAE, MBA, CPA

Since 2014, Yardi® has leveraged its trusted brand and leadership in the real estate software industry for an exciting giving initiative to improve our shared built environment—the Yardi Energy Efficiency Grants. Yardi’s goal with the grants is to reduce energy used in commercial, residential and mixed-use properties through education and technology.

The company enlisted the help of several prominent organizations, including IREM, to develop education and programs for practitioners on the front lines of real estate management.

“We are pleased that the Yardi Energy Efficiency Grants support new strategies for reducing energy consumption, which, as a major expense for property managers, offers vast opportunities for innovation. The work of IREM and its partners will benefit everybody with a stake in commercial property management including owners, operators, tenants, investors, communities and governments,” said Anant Yardi, the company’s founder and president.

I’d like to close out 2019 by reflecting on five years of IREM Yardi Energy Efficiency Grants. The success IREM has seen with the grants is an achievement we can all celebrate. We also look ahead to more results-driven work to make energy and water efficiency, recycling and healthy operations standard in the industry.

IREM’s Grant Strategy: Lead

When IREM first received a Yardi Energy Efficiency Grant in 2014, we knew immediately that making an impact would require more than delivering a series of webinars and writing articles on energy efficiency. IREM needed to take a leadership role in sustainable real estate through imaginative programs that leveraged our research and insights on real estate management.

In order to use the grant wisely and prioritize sustainability, we created a dedicated headquarters staff position to increase our capacity to focus on related projects. Todd Feist has held the role of sustainability program manager since 2014 and works to highlight and advance the role of real estate management in sustainable real estate through IREM’s grant-driven programs.

In 2016, IREM further prioritized sustainability by creating a Sustainability Advisory Board. This board advises on IREM sustainability programs and ensures that we are pursuing grant initiatives that meet the needs of the industry. The board is made up of IREM members and other sustainable real estate experts in academia and consulting.

“In addition to the leadership we provide on sustainability within IREM, the Sustainability Advisory Board makes the Institute’s programs accountable to membership and IREM’s governance structure,” says Lynne Miller, CPM, RPA, LEED AP O+M and 2020 Sustainability Advisory Board chair. “That is important to delivering quality programs. It also ensures that we spend those grant funds on meaningful work that positions IREM as a leader in the industry.”

Five Years of Results

I am delighted to say that IREM’s strategy of pursuing a leadership position in sustainable real estate has generated positive results, as demonstrated by the following:

  • Over 360 IREM Certified Sustainable Properties (CSPs). IREM CSPs are conventional and medical office buildings, multifamily and senior housing communities, and shopping centers that have met broad sustainability criteria and established green operations as long-term priorities. The certification is firmly established as an option for owners and management companies seeking an approachable, affordable recognition program for their sustainability accomplishments.
  • Over 15 real estate owners enrolled in the IREM CSP Volume Program. Owners like the practicality of the program and its resources to roll out portfolio-wide initiatives. They also use the program to target areas of sustainability performance that need improvement and enhance sustainability reporting to investors through frameworks like GRESB and RobecoSAM’s Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA).
  • Three subsequent years of an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year award. The U.S. EPA has recognized IREM for the IREM CSP program, which integrates ENERGY STAR resources and tools, as well as sustainability education and research. For its continued success, IREM earned an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year–Sustained Excellence nod in 2019.
  • Over 1,350 IREM members and other real estate professionals educated on energy management through online courses. IREM developed courses on benchmarking, smart meter data access and deep retrofits, currently offered through Education@USGBC, USGBC’s online course catalog, and as a benefit to companies participating in the IREM CSP Volume Program. IREM has reached thousands more real estate professionals with content on sustainability topics and trends through IREM webinars, the IREM Blog, JPM, Real Estate Management News and the IREM Global Summit.
  • Three years of the IREM Energy Efficiency Survey from 2016 to 2018. The survey asked respondents about their energy efficiency practices and perceptions. Over 1,200 real estate professionals have downloaded two reports based on this research—Building Performance That Pays and Measure What You Manage. Survey insights continue to inform our programs.
  • Approximately 450 attendees at 10 energy data access workshops. IREM delivered these workshops in major markets around the country in 2016–2017, typically with local partners involved in building energy efficiency, such as utilities and municipalities.
  • Research into the impact of sustainability on multifamily property value. IREM spearheaded research with an academic partner, using income/expense analysis data from two large AMO firms, that investigates the financial performance of green-certified multifamily properties compared to their conventional peers. While more research is needed, IREM helped to forge new ground in academic research on the value impact of sustainability.

Looking to the Future

As a leader in sustainable real estate, IREM is positioned to keep making an impact with programs enabled by the grant. We also look to work closely with Yardi in the years ahead to leverage our brands and leadership roles in the industry so we can communicate the business case for sustainability programs, based on grant resources, results and lessons learned.

“We congratulate IREM and the Yardi Energy Efficiency Grant recipients for their tremendous progress to date. The entire industry will reap the benefits of their work. We look forward to what’s ahead in the next half-decade and beyond, when new generations of property management software will optimize energy consumption with algorithms, machine learning and other innovations,” said Akshai Rao, vice president of energy and procure to pay for Yardi.

IREM is grateful to Yardi for five years of the Yardi Energy Efficiency Grant and our other areas of partnership. Stay tuned for more results, and join IREM and Yardi in this effort by advancing sustainability in your portfolios.  

Journal of Property Management

Denise LeDuc-Froemming, CAE, MBA, CPA, is CEO and executive vice president of IREM Headquarters in Chicago.

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