Weingarten Realty Shopping Center Achieves IREM Certified Sustainable Property Certification
A few months back, we talked about IREM’s sustainability certification, which provides property managers with an affordable and attainable alternative to LEED certification. The program checks a property's sustainability in five categories—energy, water, health, recycling and purchasing—but it also gives greater attention to properties that are often ignored by LEED certification, such as shopping centers.
The Client and the Property
The perfect example is Weingarten Realty Investors’ Centerwood Plaza shopping center, which recently achieved its IREM Certified Sustainable Property certification as part of Weingarten’s ongoing “GreenForward” sustainability strategy.
As a shopping center owner, manager and developer, Weingarten Realty Investors owns and operates about 46M SF over 230 properties in 20 states. One of its properties is the Centerwood Plaza, which is anchored by Superior Grocer (pictured).
Sitting in a trade area bounded by four major freeways, Centerwood serves a community of more than 290,000 people and brings in over 60,000 cars daily. But the most important thing to know about Centerwood is the various sustainability measures that Weingarten has implemented over the last several years, including native landscaping, energy-efficient lighting, energy-efficient roofing, tenant recycling programs, and environmentally friendly construction build-out procedures.
Centerwood seems prime for sustainability certification, but, as Weingarten Realty senior regional manager and director of sustainability Christopher Oftedal (pictured) points out, shopping centers—especially existing properties—have been strangely underrepresented in LEED Certification for Existing Buildings.
"LEED Certification is a fantastic designation and has always been the gold standard for any property type,” he tells Bisnow. “Unfortunately, for many existing shopping centers, it’s very challenging to obtain due to many factors, such as cost and overall feasibility."
IREM’s program not only had more realistic, achievable and applicable standards than LEED certification, it also showed a better understanding of the unique challenges, opportunities and effort that goes into creating sustainable shopping centers.
We’ve described the process of application before, but we wanted Chris to shed more personal light on it. While IREM’s standards are indeed less stringent than LEED, it’s certainly no walk in the park, Chris tells us. Describing the process as “very thorough, challenging and detailed,” Chris and his team spent weeks collecting data, making action plans and filling out forms in order to create a report that best captured Weingarten’s efforts to improve Centerwood’s sustainability. At the end of the day, Centerwood was certified, without any suggested changes.
The End Result
Constantly seeking ideas and innovations that can further improve its national portfolio’s environmental performance, Chris and Weingarten plan to use the IREM certification not only in their 2016 GRESB submission, but as an illustration of their continued commitment to owning and operating high-quality assets and achieving long-term value for shareholders.
“Today’s consumers have a much greater awareness of sustainability,” he says, “and we’re confident that we’ll have a competitive advantage in the marketplace by obtaining the IREM Certified Sustainable Property designation.”
At the end of the day, Chris maintains that IREM’s program offers a superb alternative for industries often overlooked by LEED certification. Not only, he says, does the IREM program allow property managers to receive the accolades they deserve for the work they put into their properties, but it could hopefully encourage other owners and companies in the same industry to go green and seek certification as well.