Version: BREEAM In-Use Version 6
Developer/ Client: WashREIT
Assessor Organization: UL Verification Services Inc
About the Project
WashREIT (NYSE: WRE) in Washington, D.C. announced in April 2021 an expansion of its Green Bond Framework for eligible green projects, including eight multifamily assets acquired in 2019. As outlined in WashREITâ€™s Green Bond Framework, WashREIT intends to achieve BREEAM In-Use Very Good certifications for the majority of these assets.
WashREIT allocated the majority of the proceeds to buildings so they could achieve BREEAM certification as part of its multipronged approach to address energy efficiency, water efficiency, and renewable energy projects. This commitment was an essential part of WashREITâ€™s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) roadmap, particularly for demonstrating alignment with the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and other disclosure reporting frameworks. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, WashREITâ€™s commitment represents a part of the booming green bond market expected to exceed $1 trillion globally by the end of 2021.
The assetsâ€™ certification process was led by an independent third-party assessor UL, a global safety science leader. ULâ€™s role was critical to WashREITâ€™s achievement of safety, security and sustainability goals across the portfolio, as the assessor provided third-party verification of each building’s sustainable quality and ESG performance.Â Â
â€śWeâ€™re focused on existing Class B assets â€“ and historically, this asset class has lacked in sustainability investments. But residents and investors alike care about sustainability,â€ť said Paul McDermott, President and CEO of WashREIT. â€śAs we work with BREEAM, our goal is to create opportunities for the industry and other operators to also find ways to invest in sustainable improvements and achieve ESG certifications for their assets.â€ť
While pursuing BREEAM In-Use residential certification, due to the age of some of the residential communities we faced challenges with gathering building lvl drawings and construction details to be able to document various credits accurately. Along with their age, the nature of multifamily units posed challenges with creating inventories for all heating, cooling and hot water systems which are replaced as needed and varied significantly in efficiencies. Similar challenges were faced for water fixtures as well. Inability to acquire community lvl energy and water consumption data also prevented all projects from pursuing Management Performance Certification.
4 of the 8 properties that pursued certification achieved the Very Good Rating under Asset Performance. Pursuing BREEAM certification prompted an effort towards comprehensive inventory creation and digitization of existing building drawings. The project teams were also successful in reviewing and improving upon the existing recycling infrastructure, tenant outreach and communication.
Solutions, Benefits & Next steps
WashREIT moved forward with BREEAM certification for The Assembly, a portfolio of seven multifamily properties across Northern Virginia and Montgomery County, Maryland, in addition to the Cascade at Landmark in Alexandria, Virginia. These eight properties represent roughly 2,400 units. The green bonds also come on the heels of WashREITâ€™s energy consumption reduction goal of 20% by 2025, below a 2015 baseline, mitigating the portfolioâ€™s impact on climate change. As part of this effort, with aid of the BREEAM Certification tool, WashREIT will continue tackling environmental impacts of asset development, climate risk, waste management, and transportation.
The BREEAM certification provides a comprehensive standard for achieving sustainability across the lifecycle of a project. BREEAM In-Use Residential certification provided an assessment method to measure, evaluate and reflect the performance of residential assets against best practice in an independent, cost-effective and robust manner.
Is there anything that multifamily/ residential real estate professionals in particular should be aware of when it comes to sustainability and ESG?
Sustainability and ESG are to be looked at from aÂ day-to-day occupant experience point of view where design decisions and infrastructure impacts every occupantâ€™s health and well being as well as their environmental footprint. Ensuring good Indoor air quality by incorporating co, co2 sensors, humidity sensors and good ventilation is key as well as providing efficient equipment and water fixtures. Applying sustainability practices common in commercial office spaces does not fully translate to a residential community (such as recycling infrastructure and transportation amenities) and that should be avoided, gathering feedback from occupants and property management would go a long way in crafting a sustainability and ESG strategy that really works in a residential setting.3
â€śThis is a momentous achievement for the US REIT market to recognize the caliber and rigor of the BREEAM certification program, particularly for WashREITâ€™s multifamily assets in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan areaâ€ť, said BREEAM Director Shamir Ghumra. â€śThe challenge in meeting a Very Good certification, which represents the top 25% of BREEAM certified assets, demonstrates an important next step in WashREITâ€™s commitment to benchmarking, verifying, and sharing sustainability best practices across their portfolio. We applaud WashREIT as a trailblazer in the U.S. for this high-performance investment.â€ť
WashREIT owns and operates uniquely positioned real estate assets in the Washington D.C. market. Backed by decades of experience, expertise and Our portfolio of 43 properties includes nearly 7,000 multifamily apartment units and approximately 3.4 million square feet of commercial space. Our shares trade on the NYSE and our company currently has an enterprise value of approximately $3 billion. With a track record of driving returns and delivering satisfaction, we are a trusted authority in one of the nation’s most competitive real estate markets. To learn more, please visit washreit.com.
BREEAM is the worldâ€™s leading sustainability assessment methodology for masterplanning projects, infrastructure and buildings. It recognizes and reflects the value in higher performing assets across the built environment lifecycle, from new construction, through performance in operation, to refurbishment. BREEAM does this through third party certification of the assessment of an assetâ€™s environmental, social and economic sustainability performance, using standards developed by BRE. This means BREEAM rated developments are more sustainable environments that enhance the well-being of the people who live and work in them, help protect natural resources and make for more attractive property investments. Learn more at www.breeam.com.
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