Trends in the commercial real estate industry reflect thechanging priorities of the organizations that occupy space, theinvestors and lenders that provide capital, and the largercommunity that is often represented by governmental bodies, publicsentiment and economic conditions. The intense focus on energy andsustainability over the past 10 years illustrates how the realestate community balances the needs of all these stakeholders andevokes the world in which we live.

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The Kyoto Protocol in 1997 raised the issue of monitoring carbonemissions as a first step to reducing them. The film “AnInconvenient Truth” brought sustainability to a wider collectiveconsciousness. By the time sustainability concerns took centerstage in the latter half of the decade, forward-looking companiesalready had been finding ways to reduce environmental impacts foryears. For real estate service firms, energy and sustainabilityconcerns were driven by demand from clients and cities. Forexample, we at Jones Lang LaSalle certified our first LEEDdevelopment in 2003 for a university client, and the following yearwere recognized by a Chicago-area municipal coalition for ourcollaboration with corporate clients to reduce regional carbonemissions.

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At first, sustainability initiatives, such as recyclingprograms, were mainly driven by the desire to enhance corporatebrands and employee morale. Before long, however, companiesrealized they could save millions of dollars with inexpensiveenergy efficiency measures. As corporations implemented energymanagement in their owned facilities, they looked for similarprograms in buildings where they lease space.

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It is difficult to name a single factor driving thesustainability trend today simply because there are so manycandidates—operational cost savings opportunities, corporate carbonreduction goals, compliance with government regulations and,increasingly, pools of capital aimed at socially responsibleinvestment opportunities. The original motivations of employeeproductivity and corporate reputation have not disappeared, despitethe continuing challenge of measuring progress in these areas. Wefind that, when we look for engagement among our own employees orwithin client operations, there are always more volunteers than wehad expected.

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The emergence of energy and sustainability as a priority isindicative of the way the commercial real estate industry continuesto quantify the business case for sustainability. Property andfacility managers, brokers, investors and corporate real estateprofessionals have all become more responsive to the changing needsof their constituents. Our ability to add value today far outstripswhat we could offer as an industry 10 years ago. As the number ofour accredited professionals continues to grow, we bring ourclients more in-depth and actionable information, help them certifytheir buildings and use sophisticated tools to analyze, monitor andreduce energy usage. It’s clear that leading industry players willcontinue to drive improvements over the next decade, in the area ofsustainability and beyond it.

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To some extent, we can predict what the future will look like.Recognizing that 33% of greenhouse gas emissions are from the builtenvironment, owners and occupiers are working together to findsustainable solutions. They are finding common ground on greenleases, and it is easy to imagine that their efforts will lead togreater sustainability in leased space. We have yet to see energyretrofits become widespread, but it will happen as more projectsprove successful and more high-performing buildings change hands atpremium prices. Although it’s tempting to say that the past 10years has been the decade of sustainability in buildings, it may bethat the real green revolution is still in our future.

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Colin Dyer has been a director of Jones Lang LaSalle sinceSeptember 2004, when he was elected president and chief executiveofficer of the firm and the chairman of its Global ExecutiveCommittee. Before that, from 2000 to 2004, he was the founding CEOof the WorldWide Retail Exchange, an Internet-basedbusiness-to-business exchange, with offices in Washington, D.C.,Paris and Tokyo, whose members include more than 40 of the world'sleading retailers and manufacturers. From 1996 until 2000, Dyer wasCEO of Courtaulds Textiles plc, an international clothing andfabric company operating in 17 countries with 22,000 employees. Hebegan his career with Courtaulds in 1982 as managing director ofthe Dutch retail chain, GDL, and held various positions with thecompany before being named chief executive. From 1978 to 1982, heserved with McKinsey & Company in Amsterdam as a client managerto firms in the banking, chemical, retail, petrochemical, medicalequipment and aerospace industries.

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