In May, international sustainability expert Theddi Wright Chappell joined Cushman & Wakefield as a managing director, leading the firm’s National Green Building & Sustainability Practice, as well as its Valuation Services team, working from Seattle. She also serves as the Ambassador of Sustainable Initiatives for the Appraisal Institute. Chappell spoke with about the progress in sustainable development and the challenges it poses to valuating properties.

GlobeSt.: What sector offers the greatest opportunities? Chappell: Hotel, for a lot of reasons. Theirs, truly, is a whole experience, and sustainability is really about a complete experience. People are making lifestyle choices, and they’re checking to see how hotels and resorts are handling certain issues. Office buildings in the private sector will be the easiest to see the benefits. With retail there have already been some results–with companies like Wal-Mart putting skylights in for daylighting. Industrial is also an opportunity; [some] studies show increased productivity. They are producing something that’s measurable.

GlobeSt.: What are some challenges? Chappell:The first is education. There is very little empirical data. The LEED valuation has been around for seven or eight years, so there has been very little time for transactions to occur. Right, wrong or otherwise, appraisers want cap rates, and banks want track records. Sustainability has been around for a long time, but most of the early adopters that we’re aware of were public sector. They don’t even necessarily have to track the same data the private sector does, that a pension fund or investor wants. What I’m doing with both the Appraisal Institute and Cushman is trying to gather data, put information together that both the underwriting and investment communities can use.

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