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Two different continents, but one mission: corporate and social responsibility

IREM’s REME Awards celebrate achievements in real estate management in corporate and individual categories. One of the most coveted awards is for corporate and social responsibility. Last year’s nominees had such compelling stories the judges found it impossible to choose just one. So, the honor was shared between two outstanding, yet very different, winners.

Southwest Clinical Center, Brasilia, Brazil

Brasília, the capital city of Brazil, has made extraordinary contributions to architecture and the art of city planning. The unique attributes of this modern metropolis in the heart of Brazil have earned it recognition as a United Nations World Heritage site.

IREM has also recognized Brasilia’s advances in environmental design by bestowing a REME Award for corporate and social responsibility on a unique gem—the Southwest Clinical Center, which opened in 2003 and is home to nearly 100 medical professional offices.

In 2010, the Center’s polycarbonate plastic covering over the building’s atrium desperately needed replacement. It had collected dust and grime that could not be washed off. Worse, the roofing created a greenhouse effect, generating serious heat that taxed the building’s air conditioning systems. In addition, rains leaked through the roof and every raindrop generated plinks that echoed throughout the space, destroying the sense of calm expected in a medical office.

Marcelo Sicoli, the property’s general manager, was inspired to transform the building from a dated and inefficient design, to the award-winning structure it is today. After hiring an architectural firm, Sicoli oversaw the start of the structure’s renovation in March 2017.

The initial challenge was the removal of the old structure. Off came the polycarbonate plastic roofing, cut into pieces and hauled off for recycling. Then came the steel beams – seven tons of them - lowered on ropes by hand to the floor and also shipped off for recycling.

All this was replaced with textile fabric supported by a tensile structure, similar to many found in airports and stadiums, prized for its strength and versatility. Leftover fabric remnants were transformed into bags for tenants and visitors, a nod to the environmental friendliness of the new structure.

The new fabric roof allows heat to escape, and provides improved air circulation. Moreover, the fabric makes an ideal canvas for lighting effects; Sicoli notes that different colored lights are illuminated to mark health observances, such as pink lights in October for breast cancer awareness and blue in November for prostate cancer.

CAHEC Foundation, Raleigh, NC

On the other side of the geographic spectrum, CAHEC Foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina, an affiliate of CAHEC (Community Affordable Housing Equity Corporation), was honored with a REME Award for providing affordable housing and contributions to community revitalization. CAHEC secures funding to invest in housing for low-income seniors, families, and people living with special needs.

With more than 700 properties and 32,000 units, CAHEC provides safe, affordable housing for residents throughout the southeast and mid-Atlantic states. Beyond housing, their philanthropic entity, the CAHEC Foundation, provides life-changing opportunities to residents with a focus on wellness and education.

Stefanie Lee, CAHEC community relations specialist, says the organization has been funding initiatives to support residents since 1999. “We’re proud to have invested over $15 million to help our residents and their communities succeed,” she says. “We know there are hardworking families in our footprint that deserve a safe, affordable place to call home. And we know the additional opportunities we provide through the CAHEC Foundation are going to help our families even more.”

Do you know of any organizations doing great work that deserve recognition? Nominate them for a REME Award. Nominations are being accepted through June 12, 2020.

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