Friday, November 9, 2007

GE Real Estate Announces Green Initiative

Go big or go home!
That has got to be GE Real Estate's motto concerning their green real estate initiative, announced at Greenbuild in Chicago earlier this week and covered in this week's CoStar Green Report. Under the new program, GE intends to imbed sustainability into its entire investment and asset management process. They are doing this through a partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative. That alliance allows GE to "tap into CCI's resources to improve the environmental performance of properties". Initiative Highlights
  • Energy audits and retrofits of properties "where profitable".
  • Tracking of environmental and energy metrics alongside financial performance.
  • Incorporation of LEED rating system and international equivalents into their ongoing property assessments.
  • Sharing best practices with customers.
GE's $30 billion a year operation is large enough to influence the actions of of their owners and partners throughout the property financial system. Pay attention to the fact that they limit their commitment to retrofit to situations where it would be profitable. That is one of the biggest questions investors wrestle with these days. As I've written before, greening existing investment properties seems to be harder for investors to achieve than building brand new green buildings. It also raises questions about how they will judge the post-retrofit profitability of the property and what environmentally beneficial retrofit work might be avoided on a property because the benefits are not profitable enough in their view. GE's integrating energy and environmental metrics alongside financial indicators is a needed best practice. They have the financial strength and platform to cause these types of metrics to proliferate throughout the real estate industry. Of course, we will have to see what exactly those metrics are and hope that they result in transparent, verifiable reductions in their portfolio's carbon footprint.
The Green Journey Synopsis: The content of GE's key real estate initiatives is excellent intel on where investors should focus their efforts as they build environmentally responsible investment platforms.
We will not know any of these answers until we see GE's performance over the coming years, but one thing's for sure -- they have got everyone's attention.


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