Big Companies Find New Way to ‘Go Green’

IREM's Certified Sustainable Property certification provides an alternative to LEED that gives its real estate members recognition for their green efforts.

Washington, D.C.—In today’s climate, “going green” is becoming an increasingly popular trend among many types of companies, including real estate organizations. While LEED is likely the first type of certification most think of, some real estate companies are looking to an alternative: IREM Certified Sustainable Property certification. Several real estate organizations have formed a charter group committed to achieving this certification, which is advertised as “an affordable, attainable alternative to LEED.”

AMA Plaza in Chicago, a IREM Certified Sustainable Property managed by Riverview Realty Property Management Inc.
AMA Plaza in Chicago, a IREM Certified Sustainable Property managed by Riverview Realty Property Management Inc.

Among these companies are: Alliance Residential Co., Lincoln Property Co., LORD Green Real Estate Strategies, NEO Realty Group, Principal Real Estate Investors, The Village Apartments and Weingarten Realty.

IREM® (Institute of Real Estate Management), an international community of real estate managers and an affiliate of the National Association of REALTORS®, is the only organization serving both the multifamily and commercial sectors. Its new sustainability certification was created as a more cost-effective certification process for properties that are simply unable to attain LEED certification. “Thousands of existing office, multifamily and retail properties in the United States are working toward sustainability goals but cannot get LEED certification. It is far too out of reach and does not make financial sense,” according to an IREM release.

Kelly Vickers, LEED Green Associate, GGP and National Director of Sustainability for Alliance Residential told MHN, “For companies without a sustainability program already in place [IREM Certified Sustainable Property certification] cn provide guidance for implementing one. For organizations like Alliance with an existing company-wide sustainability program, this certification provides meaningful recognition in an accessible way, which further strengthens our program and supplements efforts at our properties.”

The certification is also more customized to property managers as opposed to LEED, which has requirements that are often out of the property manager’s control. “Many properties have successful sustainability programs but no way to validate them and demonstrate green performance to stakeholders,” the release said. “IREM saw a need for a new sustainability certification program, one that is attainable, affordable, meaningful and available to three main property types—office properties, multifamily communities and shopping centers.”

Through the certification process, the sustainability performance of existing properties are assessed in five categories: energy, water, health, recycling and purchasing. Companies must download the educational materials provided by IREM, complete the 15 baseline requirements, earn at least 62 points from the five categories and then apply for certification. The application fee is $400 for IREM members or Accredited Management Organization (AMO®)-certified firms and $800 for others. For multifamily in particular, requirements for companies include: having at least 50 units and 75 percent occupancy, smoke-free interior common areas, and a commitment to responding to an annual IREM survey, among others.

As part of the charter group, several of the real estate companies involved expressed their enthusiasm about the program. “We are honored and excited to be part of this charter group. The IREM Certified Sustainable Property program speaks to our values of helping properties meet the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit, and further allows us to showcase how expert property management relates directly back to sustainability initiatives,” said Brant Smith, managing broker for NEO Realty Group, which is based in Cleveland, Ohio.

Mychele Lord, president of LORD Green Real Estate Strategies, added that this program “has the potential to transform the industry by expanding recognition opportunities to a wider range of properties.”

IREM offers a variety of membership types for professionals of every experience level, from on-site managers to high-level executives. IREM credentials, earned by meeting high standards of education, experience, and ethical business practices, include: Certified Property Manager (CPM®), Accredited Residential Manger (ARM®), Accredited Commercial Manager (ACoM), and AMO®.

Images courtesy of IREM

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