Ask the Expert: 2020 Green Building Pioneer winning team, BentallGreenOak and RWDI

BentallGreenOak and RWDI

BentallGreenOak and RWDI
Green Building Pioneer

Award Sponsor:

The Green Building Pioneer Award recognizes a deserving individual or organization demonstrating an innovative approach to the advancement of green building technology, products, capacity building, policy, design, or operations. These leaders demonstrate a unique passion that pushes the industry, their competitors, customers, and employees towards continuous improvement.

In 2020, our Pioneer award winner is both BentallGreenOak and RWDI. The two organizations collaborated to boost the resiliency of BentallGreenOak’s whole portfolio by developing a proprietary climate adaptation planning tool. By creating a database of 423 resiliency practices and working with property management teams to identify local and regional climate threats, 413 existing properties and 75 million sq. ft. have since been provided with their own climate change adaptation plan with a top-ten list of actions.

This industry-leading project sets a new industry benchmark for addressing and managing resilience at a portfolio-wide level. In this interview, we hear from Anna Murray, Managing Director, Global Head of ESG, BentallGreenOak and Mike Williams, Vice President, Buildings RWDI.

1. Tell us about your organizations and what you do for them?

Mike Williams: RWDI is a global, niche engineering consultancy. All of our services are built on the foundation of our deep understanding of climate science. To that end, climate change and supporting our clients with the development of resiliency strategies is a high priority for both the firm and me, personally.

Anna Murray: BentallGreenOak is a leading, global real estate investment management advisor and a globally-recognized provider of real estate services. BentallGreenOak serves the interests of more than 750 institutional clients with approximately $49 billion USD of assets under management (as of June 30, 2020) and expertise in the asset management of office, retail, industrial and multi-residential property across the globe. BentallGreenOak now spans 12 countries and 24 cities in the premier real estate markets and centers of commerce in the world today.

Our Sustainable Investing team is tasked with managing environmental, social and governance risk to generate long term value for our clients

2. BentallGreenOak has been ahead of the curve with resiliency planning for your portfolio – what drove this focus?

Anna Murray: Our approach to climate resilience stems from a continued focus on future-proofing our portfolios to drive long-term returns for our clients and investors. We address climate risks at the property and portfolio levels through strategic planning that assesses and mitigates critical vulnerabilities.

3. What role did RWDI play in establishing the proprietary climate adaptation planning tool?

Mike Williams: The process was very collaborative. We had many meetings to understand how best to engage the managers at the 400+ buildings included in the project and how to best to communicate meaningful, actionable guidance back to them.

4. What sort of benefits does BentallGreenOak anticipate the use of this tool will bring to its portfolio?

Anna Murray: We know that the actions we take today will lay the foundation for generations to come. The climate resiliency strategies that this tool delivers provide valuable solutions and guidance on how our real estate portfolio can better mitigate the social and financial risks associated with climate change.

5. What does this mean for the industry going forward? How will it change the way portfolio management is done across the board?

Mike Williams: While we need to continue efforts to reduce GHG emissions to mitigate the future impacts of climate change, the reality is that the impacts of climate change are upon us and we need to act now. As such, we anticipate investments in measures to increase the resilience of building assets to be an increased priority for the industry at large.

6. What advice would you give other portfolio owners regarding resiliency planning?

Mike Williams: Get started.

7. BentallGreenOak/RWDI were recently named Green Building Pioneer as part of CaGBC’s Leadership and Green Building Excellence Awards. What does it mean to your organizations to be recognized in this way?

Mike Williams: It’s pretty cool – and appreciated. Thanks! That said, we know that we’re only at the beginning of this journey. We anticipate that the challenges that a changed climate presents to our clients – and the buildings sector at large – will only increase. We are ready for the challenge and excited to continue pioneering efforts to enhance the resilience of the built environment.

Anna Murray: We are grateful to the CaGBC for this tremendous honor and their constant support for the advancement of sustainability in our industry. As extreme weather events continue to increase in frequency and severity, we hope that this forward-thinking approach will help lift the industry to meet enhanced resilience needs in the critical decade ahead. Coordinated efforts between our property and investment management teams enable us to explore new avenues for sustainability performance through data-driven insights, standardized methodology and robust stakeholder engagement.