Property Biz Canada

Bentall Kennedy Goes Green on the Web

Two years after it released its inaugural corporate social responsibility report on old-fashioned paper and newer but clunkier PDF formats, Bentall Kennedy has taken its CSR reporting to the Internet.

The shift to the Web gives the real estate services firm a better way to show off its green cred – last year Bentall Kennedy was ranked number one in the Americas and number five globally for environmental, social and governance practices in commercial real estate by the Global Real Estate and Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) survey.

“What we are trying to do is demonstrate leadership and take advantage of the opportunities to share some of the really great things our property managers and asset managers do on behalf of our clients,” said Nada Sutic, Director of Sustainability with Bentall Kennedy in Toronto.

The new website (www.cr.bentallkennedy.com) lays out the firm’s 2011 CSR report, titled Simply Better Business, covers topics such as the firm’s progress on the environmental front in areas such programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, energy and water usage and waste.

A formal report covering environmental, social and governance practices is rare for a real estate company in North America, said Sutic, but is a more common practice in Europe and Australia. “For us, that leadership drives our team, and it is important for our employees and other stakeholders to be able to fit into that group on a global level and look at global leadership.”

CSR site will appeal to varied audience

Bentall Kennedy expects different parts of the CSR site will appeal to its varied audience and the company has designed it so that people can zero in on what they want to see. “For the investor audience, things like risk management and governance” are major topics of interest, she said. “For the tenant audience, some of the more visible environmental elements, around energy reduction and greenhouse gas emissions tend to be important.”

The CSR site also gives Bentall Kennedy a place to talk about the greening of its building portfolio. “Having 70% of our office buildings certified to either LEED or BOMA BESt where those certifications apply, that kind of stands out for us as well,” said Sutic. “It’s great to recognize the achievement, and to recognize that we still have 30% to do.”

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Other environment highlights for Bentall Kennedy on the site include reducing GHG emissions across the portfolio by 6% overall, reducing water consumption by 20% in the U.S. residential portfolio, and by 2% across all of North America. The site includes case studies of best practices in water management as well as those that detail success stories in the reduction of energy usage and waste.

The firm has used the new site to lay out performance data such as energy consumption per square foot for different asset types, total greenhouse gas emissions, and labour force data.

Energy consumption data available in the public domain

Sutic noted that putting all that information into the public domain should make her company more strategic about its goals in the CSR space. “Now we have all this data and information available, out there in the public space, and we can start using that information – what are we going to do with that knowledge,” she said. “Once you have that kind of information in hand, you can make better decisions, you can make more informed decisions.”

The Bentall Kennedy sustainability director said that effort will include examining its energy usage data across the portfolio, on a regional basis or a client’s portfolio “and being able to work more closely with our clients to say ‘now we have several years of data,’ and being able to make recommendations and meet their objectives around responsible property investing.”

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