ING Sets Green Initiatives

ING Real Estate is the latest firm to introduce a new set of sustainability guidelines for acquisitions, development projects and asset management of its real estate investments, designed to encourage more green transactions and practices as part of ING Group’s worldwide commitment to reduce its carbon footprint.The company’s initiatives are based in part on the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design system, so the firm is requiring that, in most instances, ground-up development will be certified under LEED New Construction, LEED Core & Shell or LEED Neighborhood Development standards, with a targeted Silver or higher certification. Acquisitions will require an assessment to identify sustainable elements and opportunities to improve existing sustainability, and the current portfolio will undergo sustainability targets to encourage the addition of green property characterizations and Energy Star ratings benchmarks. Although ING was not available for comment by press time, Bob Best, executive vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., noted that it is likely that ING is responding to tenant pressure. “They’re getting a message from the market,” he told CPN. “You can get (a tenant) at a premium, because demand is outpacing supply. Owners … have to make buildings green so they are the preferred space.” And tenants are one of the main drivers behind recent green initiative announcements, Best continued. “They want their space to be greener, and they want help in making their employees greener.” Jones Lang LaSalle, for one, formalized its sustainability initiatives in April, which include hiring and training 500 LEED- and Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method-accredited professionals by 2009. Next week, it will launch a toolkit for tenant reps to help them when they are seeking or building out space for tenants, and will include a rating system to rank space on factors such as construction and operations. Overall, all commercial real estate companies will have to consider green initiatives in order to be competitive into today’s market, especially with this tenant drive, Best said. ING and Jones Lang LaSalle are not the only companies to announce notable green initiatives this year: • Earlier this month, construction management firm TRW & Associates Inc. partnered with Gramercy Capital Corp. to oversee energy and waste conservation in of all of Gramercy’s building and construction projects, which includes 11 million square feet in 900 banking facilities. • In May, GE Real Estate hired Stuart Brodsky, former Energy Star Manager for the Environmental Protection Agency, to develop and executive a comprehensive sustainability business strategy for the firm. • In March, Advance Realty Group announced an energy conservation program that should lead to annual savings of 5 to 17 percent, and partnered with facilities and energy management firm GSH Group to evaluate energy needs and issues in Advance Realty’s portfolio. • In February, Studley Inc. launched its sustainable real estate practice to assist its clients in making environmentally responsible real estate decisions and achieving LEED certification. • In January, ProLogis implemented a requirement that all of its new development in the U.S. comply with LEED certification