Sustainable Development Update - August 2016

Allen Matkins
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Sustainable Development Focus

REIT reporting standards for sustainability lack consensus

REIT.com - Jul 29 There are roughly a dozen or so real estate sustainability standards competing for the attention of investors, according to RealFoundations, a real estate consulting firm, including BOMA 360 by the Building Owners and Managers Association International and Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB). Meanwhile, there are building certification programs such as LEED, BREEAM, and Green Star. There are also 30 or so ranking and index systems, such as Forbes, MSCI, Asset4, Climate Counts, and CSRHub. In terms of reporting, programs have different coverage periods and deadlines, making life more difficult for sustainability managers wrangling how to best distill data related to energy, sustainability, and governance. For REIT sustainability managers, compliance reporting for a growing number of systems has come down to triage of sorts, with real-estate-specific platforms getting top priority.

Companies are tackling climate emissions in creative ways

GreenBiz - Aug 1

Among a group of nearly 2,000 companies that publicly disclosed data in 2015, 17 percent use offsetting as part of a carbon reduction strategy, including L’Oréal, General Motors, and Delta Air Lines, according to a new report by Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace. Of 1,896 companies who publicly disclosed data to CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) last year, 248 invested in projects to reduce climate-changing emissions outside of their immediate operations, purchasing the equivalent of 39.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2014. Others are taking a different approach by generating offsets within their own supply chain. Compared to direct emissions, which can be reduced by taking steps such as installing renewable energy and increasing efficiency, these indirect emissions are still the "elephant in the room," and offsetting is one of the only ways to address them immediately.

District of Columbia mayor signs 50% renewable energy standard

Utility Drive

- Jul 26

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has signed legislation to push the nation's capital towards 50 percent renewable energy within the next 15 years, a goal she says will increase residents' access to clean energy while also creating jobs and new businesses. The goal includes promises to serve 100,000 low-income residents with solar energy by 2032 and reduce their power bills by 50 percent. To meet anticipated demand for solar energy, the city has partnered on a jobs program to provide young adults with paid training in solar panel installation, energy efficiency, and basic safety and construction skills. The District of Columbia will now join the ranks of states with aggressive renewable energy targets, such as California, New York and, more recently, Oregon.

Investing for impact in Boston and gateway cities

Banker & Trademan

- Jul 31

The sponsors of a Boston-based equity fund are hoping that investing in just the right transit-oriented developments will boost the longevity and health of those living in some of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. The Healthy Neighborhoods Equity Fund, a joint initiative between the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corp. and the Conservation Law Foundation, the $30 million private equity fund aims to provide patient capital to fund transit-oriented developments that would create walkable spaces and easy access to public transportation and economic opportunities. “It grew out of an effort, really organized by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, looking to accelerate the process of transit-oriented development. They looked at the pipeline and looked at the financing gaps,” said Joe Flatley, president and CEO at MHIC.

CSUN makes huge strides as national leader in sustainability

CSUN

- Jul 26

Launching a green cleaning program, developing an agreement that would quadruple solar generation on campus, expanding drought-tolerant landscaping, and offering bicycle-education workshops are among the priorities for 2016-17 outlined in California State University, Northridge’s annual Sustainability Plan. The plan, which was developed by the Institute for Sustainability, establishes the priorities for 2016-17 and highlights last year’s accomplishments. CSUN now diverts up to 60 percent of its waste from landfills, exceeding the state-mandated diversion rate of 50 percent. The university also has reduced its water consumption by 22 percent, equivalent to 55 million gallons annually.

CleanFund and Soligent enter SolarPACE financing partnership

Solar Industry Magazine

- Jul 26

CleanFund, a provider of long-term property-assessed clean energy (PACE) has entered into an agreement with Solar Engine, a Soligent entity, to finance the purchase and installation of solar panel systems for commercial, multifamily, nonprofit, and other nonresidential buildings in the U.S. Dealers and installers that are members of the Soligent network can now access CleanFund’s SolarPACE financing programs for their prospects and customers to drive growth in sales of solar systems. The companies note that their partnership comes shortly after President Barack Obama reiterated his administration’s support for PACE as an effective mechanism to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements to buildings.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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