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A Q&A with Darlene Pope, JLL SVP of Energy & Sustainability Services

March 10, 2016 | Todd Feist

Darlene Pope, whose company CoR Advisors was recently purchased by JLL, talked to IREM about the acquisition, the 2016 Building Energy Summit®, and energy and sustainability trends. The 2016 Building Energy Summit® is coming up on March 16 in Washington D.C., and IREM is an Education Partner for the event for the second year.

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Building Energy Summit

IREM: First, can you talk about CoR Advisors’ recent acquisition by JLL—what it means for both companies? Does the acquisition bring any changes to the Building Energy Summit®?

The acquisition of CoR Advisors by JLL supports JLL’s position as a market leader in providing the next generation of energy-efficient, smart building solutions for its clients through an enhanced focus on technology. Combining CoR Advisors’ subject matter expertise in smart buildings with JLL's broader energy and sustainability platform creates a suite of integrated services that is unmatched in the industry today.

The Building Energy Summit®, now in its fifth year, is a well-recognized educational event that brings together senior leaders in energy and sustainability from across the real estate industry. Our new relationship with JLL has added additional depth of knowledge and experience to the educational program, and greatly expanded the market reach for the Summit. Having a major real estate company backing our efforts not only emphasizes JLL’s commitment to sustainability, but it also raises the bar for others and drives further change across the industry.

IREM: We hear a lot about the “Internet of Things,” and it will be a topic of discussion at the 2016 Building Energy Summit®. Can you explain this, and its potential for making buildings smarter and more efficient?

The “Internet of Things” is a term used to describe the connection of devices, or “things”, over a network. The Internet of Things is all around us. Our phones, computers, iPads, homes—even our cars—are now connected and sharing valuable data. For a building, these things might include lights, sensors, meters, switches, VAVs, door locks, controls, fans…or any other device. This connectivity and data provides visibility into real-time performance and allows us to operate buildings in a much more efficient way. In fact, the Internet of Things allows us to build intelligence into the systems and controls so that the building is able to respond to real-time conditions and optimize its own performance. Smart buildings are the application of the Internet of Things in buildings!

IREM: There’s a session at the 2016 Building Energy Summit® on health, productivity, and wellness in real estate. How much potential does corporate recognition of these health and productivity benefits have on scaling sustainability and resource efficiency—especially considering the potential impact of these benefits on workforce costs?

While energy management and sustainability programs can deliver measurable savings and immediate cash flow improvements, the impact of a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce is exponentially higher. Research indicates that increases in worker productivity derived from workplace improvements such as better lighting, temperature/comfort, ventilation, and indoor air quality are anywhere from 5-15%. You then have to consider the value of the productivity improvements times the costs of an entire workforce (i.e. compensation and benefits), which generates a tremendous upside in terms of work performed and value gained. Even the smallest improvements have tremendous value in increasing the efficiency of the workforce.

IREM: How rapidly is investor demand for sustainability and energy efficiency growing? The evidence continues to mount that sustainable portfolios outperform conventional ones. I’m thinking of GRESB’s results in particular. Have you seen a significant growth in demand from investors in the past few years?

I think we will continue to see a growing demand and expectation in the market for energy-efficient buildings, and with that demand comes increased value. There are different approaches to real property appraisals, as well as different processes that emphasize and de-emphasize the value created by high-performance, energy-efficient projects. We will address how owners and investors effectively assess the sustainability performance of their real estate assets in one of the educational sessions this year on “Valuation Methods for Sustainable High Performance Buildings”. We will explore tangible and intangible drivers, strategic components, and definition and demonstration of useful calculations and valuation methodologies, as well as present case studies that highlight high-performance valuation as it pertains to energy and sustainability.

IREM: What else can we look forward to at the 2016 Building Energy Summit®?

The Summit brings together the leaders in energy and sustainability from across the country and across the world. These are the rainmakers, the movers and shakers, the "do-ers"—the people and companies changing the industry through their passion and commitment to energy efficiency. We have 16 education sessions on topics ranging from COP21 to Smart Buildings to Health and Wellness. You’ll see a change in focus from talking about energy savings to creating a better workplace and improving worker productivity. At a micro level, we’re impacting tenant comfort and satisfaction. At a macro level, we’re impacting the health of the planet. This is where change happens.

About the Author
Todd Feist is the Sustainability Program Manager at IREM Headquarters in Chicago. He develops classroom and online courses and helps manage the IREM Sustainability program, including the IREM Certified Sustainable Property certification. 

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