ULI to Advise Washington, D.C.’s Downtown BID on Achieving City’s Sustainability Goals and Leveraging Goals To Generate Real Estate Value and Economic Growth

Renowned Panel of Land Use, Finance, Planning, and Development Experts to Visit Area from July 21-26

For more information, contact Trisha Riggs, 202-679-4557; trisha.riggs@uli.org

WASHINGTON (July 17, 2019) — A group of nationally renowned land use, real estate finance, urban planning and development experts representing the Urban Land Institute (ULI) will be making recommendations next week to Washington D.C.’s Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) on the real estate industry’s role in achieving the city’s sustainability goals, and on how the goals can be leveraged to generate real estate value and boost economic growth in the city’s downtown.

ULI is a global, multidisciplinary real estate organization whose work is driven by more than 44,000 members dedicated to responsible land use and building thriving, sustainable communities around the world. The panel’s visit is being funded by donor gifts to the ULI Foundation, which provides philanthropic support for the Institute’s work to improve communities.

The panel of ULI representatives, convened through ULI’s renowned Advisory Services Program, will seek to build on the progress the city has already made in the area of sustainable building and operations practices. With 75 percent of the District’s greenhouse gas emissions resulting from energy use by buildings, the city has focused on building energy management, leading the nation in the number of Energy Star labeled buildings, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certifications per capita, square footage of installed green roofs, and in clean power purchase agreements. Although much success has been achieved through collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors, the city further intensified its sustainability efforts with passage of the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act, which took effect in March 2019. The law includes several ambitious sustainability goals, including:

  • Having the city powered entirely by renewable energy by 2032, with 5 percent of the renewable energy coming from locally supplied solar sources; and
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent from 2006 levels by 2032 and 100 percent by 2050.

The panelists, who be visiting the city from July 21-26, will seek to provide a sustainability roadmap for buildings in the Downtown BID, which encompasses a 138-block area of more than 500 commercial, residential and mixed-use properties. The BID is bordered by Massachusetts Avenue on the north, Louisiana Avenue on the east, Constitution Avenue on the south, and 16th Street on the west; and it includes the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and the Verizon Center. The panel will be evaluating a variety of factors such as:

  • How building owners can achieve the stated goals for greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy by 2032 and the best investments for reducing emissions in existing and new buildings;
  • A list of “top ten” short-term actions for both building owners and the D.C. government to help meet the sustainability goals;
  • The physical and financial feasibility of the goals, given current capital and technology availability;
  • Impediments that must be overcome to realize the necessary levels of investment;
  • The city’s role in making building to net-zero cost-effective for the real estate industry;
  • The BID’s role in facilitating the city’s progress toward meeting the goals;
  • How the investments can drive real estate value and create economic value for the BID and the city overall;
  • How building owners can bundle investments during the disruption of a renovation to achieve the most value;
  • Opportunities that exist for property owners to implement mutually beneficial green leases with building clients;
  • Whether the D.C. government is effectively organized to partner with the federal government and private sector to achieve the sustainability and climate change mitigation goals;
  • What might be missing from the D.C. government’s plans, laws and regulations that could help it meet the goals;
  • How the BID members and stakeholders could cost-effectively achieve the goals together;
  • How building owners should engage with D.C.’s Department of Energy and Environment as it analyzes how to set the city’s newly mandated building performance standards; and
  • How the sustainability investments that are likely to be necessitated by the city’s sustainability goals and building standards might affect a building owner’s competitiveness.

The panel will be chaired by former ULI Global Chairman Lynn Thurber, immediate past chairman of the advisory board for ULI’s Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance, and the past chairman of global real estate money management firm LaSalle Investment Management. “Improving sustainability in the built environment, including a greater emphasis on reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, is a key area of focus for cities and the real estate industry globally,” Thurber said. “The District of Columbia is at the forefront of this issue – the real estate market includes many sustainability leaders, and the city’s green building code is one of the most progressive in the nation. We look forward to bringing ULI’s expertise to the city to assist the Downtown BID in developing a plan to achieve the city’s sustainability goals and generate real estate value in the process.”

Thurber will be joined on the panel by ULI Trustee William G. Lashbrook, III, senior vice president, PNC, East Brunswick, New Jersey; Kevin Bates, president, Sharp Development, Portola Valley, California; Laurie Kerr, senior policy advisor, New York City Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability, New York City; Alan Razak, principal,  AthenenianRazak LLC, Philadelphia; Jay Sholl, senior vice president, CBRE, San Francisco; Sarah Sieloff, executive director, Center for Creative Land Recycling, Oakland, California; and Billy Grayson, executive director, ULI Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance,  Washington, D.C.

“The independent views of our experts will provide a fresh perspective on ways to enhance sustainable building practices already in place in Washington’s downtown,” said ULI Global Chief Executive Officer W. Edward Walter. “Our panelists’ recommendations will highlight the key role real estate plays in conserving energy and reducing carbon emissions. Their insights will help inform ULI’s future work on sustainability in cities around the world.”

Now in its 72nd year, the ULI Advisory Services program assembles experts in the fields of real estate and land use to participate on panels worldwide, offering recommendations for complex planning and development projects, programs and policies. Panels have developed more than 700 studies for a broad range of land uses, ranging from waterfront properties to inner-city retail.

The focus of the ULI panel assisting Washington’s Downtown BID is part of ULI’s ongoing efforts to assist communities and the real estate industry with different aspects of improving sustainability. This work is conducted through ULI’s Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance, which is dedicated to creating healthy, resilient, and high performance communities around the world. The center includes the Greenprint Center for Building Performance, Urban Resilience Program, and Building Healthy Places Initiative.

NOTE TO REPORTERS AND EDITORS: Members of the public and media are invited to the presentation of the panel’s recommendations on Friday, July 26, at 9 a.m. at the CoStar Group, 1331 L Street NW in Washington.

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