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CBRE Expands Sustainable Property Services

CB Richard Ellis led the property services industry by benchmarking and registering 242 million square feet of Energy Star buildings and engaging 146 million square feet in LEED services last year, according to the company’s fourth corporate responsibility report.

The world’s largest commercial real estate services firm, in terms of 2010 revenue, says it developed or enhanced its sustainability services in each of its global regions last year to encompass a broad set of client services. Such services cover management and operations of, and transactions and consultancy for, clients’ commercial real estate needs, as well as consulting expertise, the report (pdf) said.

In 2010, the firm launched CBRE Solar in conjunction with Smart Energy Capital, a solar finance, development and advisory firm. CBRE Solar provides solar power purchase agreements, roof leases, advisory services, project development services, project management services and solar project investment opportunities.

Last year the company also launched CBRE Carbon, which provides carbon offset products to real estate owners, corporations and government agencies. And CBRE UK formed a partnership with consultancy McKinnon & Clarke to enable CBRE to help buy cost-effective electricity, gas and water, and offer invoice validation services on behalf of its clients across Europe.

Highlights of CBRE’s sustainability services’ achievements for 2010 are listed in the table, above left.

Although the company recently announced that it reached carbon neutral status, it says it can achieve more environmental progress through helping clients than through any changes to its own operations. CBRE says its energy management programs at clients’ corporate sites have saved those clients millions of dollars and eliminated thousands of tons of CO2 emissions.

“Given the 2.9 billion square feet of client property CBRE manages globally and the billions of additional square feet we influence through other client services, our environmental impact potential expands well beyond our own occupancy and operations,” the report said.

“Achieving our own carbon neutral pledge has given us the knowledge, skills and credibility to guide others in a similar path – if not to full carbon neutrality, at least to a better understanding of options and outcomes that improve the sustainability of their real estate through energy use, waste and water,” it added.

CBRE says it was the first company in the sector to adopt a company-wide environmental policy, in 2007, and one of the few global companies to adopt a goal of becoming carbon neutral for 2010.

Last month the company announced that it had achieved carbon neutrality for its 2010 global operations, meeting a goal set in 2007. The company says it achieved neutrality by implementing carbon mitigation programs, such as green leasing standards and sustainable operation protocols, and then offset the remainder through investments in projects including forest conservation and landfill methane destruction.

For 2010, the company offset more than 50,600 metric tons of emissions. CBRE’s global operations electricity use for 2010 was 60,641,934 kwh and distillate fuel (oil) usage was 230,232 gallons. The report did not give energy or greenhouse gas data for previous years.

In most cases, CBRE leases the space it uses for its own operations, and those leases comprise only a small portion of the buildings in which the offices are located. As a result, the company says it does not have the means to track water withdrawal or discharge, or materials source or use beyond recycling efforts. The company also says that it does not track  any packaging source or reclamation efforts since it does not produce, package or transport goods.

Last year the number of CB Richard Ellis offices meeting the company’s Towards a Greener Tomorrow Certification, based on LEED and Energy Star standards, increased by 22, or 37 percent. The program applies to all U.S. CBRE offices over 5,000 square feet, of which there are about 90.

Last year 81 earned certification, including

  • 4 Gold (compared to 1 in 2009)
  • 34 Silver (22 in 2009)
  • 43 Bronze (36 in 2009)

The company says it has begun developing facilities standards for its occupied space, which includes an electricity sub-metering requirement for all U.S. offices undergoing lease renewal or tenant improvements.

In another initiative to monitor its own resource use, CBRE’s fourth annual audit of its offices in March 2011 found that 100 percent of its U.S. offices now recycle paper. The audit also found that:

  • 98 percent of CBRE’s U.S. offices recycle toner/cartridges
  • 90 percent recycle aluminum and plastic
  • 92 percent use controlled thermostats
  • 97 percent buy recycled paper

But again, the report did not offer comparison data from previous years.

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