IREM, City of Houston Join Forces on Local Sustainability Initiative

The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) and the City of Houston have signed A Memorandum of Understanding outlining a collaborative relationship and division of labor.

Houston—The Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) and the City of Houston have signed A Memorandum of Understanding outlining a collaborative relationship and division of labor. The goal of the collaboration will be to encourage local Houston building owners and managers and individual property tenants to join forces in whole-building sustainability activities.

Participating properties and resident spaces will engage in a two-part sustainability challenge, comprised of the Houston Green Office Challenge and the IREM Sustainability Property Challenge. The objective is to enhance commercial real estate resource conservation, performance and indoor environments city-wide.

“We have a few goals for the combined challenge program,” Todd Feist, sustainability program manager for Chicago-based IREM, an affiliate of the National Association of Realtors, tells MHN. “One of those is to engage Class B and C office buildings, industrial properties and retail properties, where sustainability programs have not been implemented to the extent they have been with Class A office buildings. There are many of these properties. Just drive down any major road in Houston, and you can see them . . . They present a significant opportunity, both in terms of enhancing real estate asset value and environmental performance through sustainability initiatives.”

IREM and the City of Houston will have to work diligently to educate and engage stakeholders at these properties, Feist adds. The challenge activities are structured around discrete sustainability projects, many of them low cost or no cost in nature. “So the challenge can provide a framework for those properties to initiate sustainability programs or take existing programs even further,” he says.

IREM hopes to connect property managers and tenants in a variety of property types on whole-building sustainability.

“The industry has made great strides in greening common areas, and some tenants have their own programs, but buildings function best when every inch of space is accounted for and taken into consideration,” Feist reports. “Property managers and tenants just need a forum or mechanism for sharing data and ideas.

“The challenge allows them to collaborate on sustainability initiatives that meet both their goals and improve sustainability at the property as a whole, instead of in a piecemeal fashion. We‘d like to demonstrate for other cities that this can be a great way to get property managers and tenants working together.”

It is hoped IREM can extend this model to other cities in the years ahead, Feist adds. The organization is providing support to other cities at present, but does not yet have as close a working relationship with them as it does with Houston.

“IREM and the City of Houston hope to refine this approach over years of collaboration, where participation in our combined challenges continues to grow and extends to other property types,” Feist concludes.