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DENVER-For the second consecutive year, ProLogis has voluntarily released an annual sustainability report along with its required annual financial report. It signifies the locally based world’s largest owner, manager and developer of distribution facilities’ commitment to the Global Reporting Initiative that established a goal of making the reporting of economic, environmental and social performance as routine as financial reporting and published guidelines for measurement of those factors in 2006.

The latest ProLogis’ report documents significant progress on all three fronts. Conceding that raising the report to the level of financial reporting is important to the company’s shareholders, Jack Rizzo, managing director of global development, tells GlobeSt.com that “employees worldwide” is the company’s major audience for the report.

On the environmental front, 5.7 million sf of ProLogis warehouse space under design or construction is pursuing LEED certification. Projects in the UK are catching up with 3.7 million sf completed, underway or planned for BREEAM ratings, the UK equivalent of LEED, and another 2 million sf are eligible there for equal rating. This January ProLogis committed to develop all new warehouses in the US and UK to LEED and BREEAM standards. ProLogis will retrofit between 7 million and 10 million existing sf a year in the US.

As for the rest of the world, Rizzo says, “a universal standard is a long way off. This year we are coming up with our own checklist, a kind of global checklist regarding construction standards for the way to score in China and Poland, for example.”

Regarding the investment in building to green standards, Rizzo says, “there really is no overall dollar figure. We had high performance specifications to begin with. We were so darn close, we only needed to assemble documents. As a long-term owner we believe the 1% to 3% invested up front will save ongoing capital.”

Another 2008 goal is to move beyond the design and construction processes “and start to work with our supply chain,” says Rizzo. There are what he calls “sustainability champions” in each ProLogis office, “who are taking us to the next level.”

Among the many social achievements in the latest report is the 2007 completion of a Hope School in China’s Guangxi area. ProLogis has pledged to fund construction of one new school in China for every 5 million sf it develops there. Why China? “Because there is such need,” Rizzo says. “The school is not even close to where we’re developing projects. We have an internal committee in China, working with the Chinese government to assess need and locate sites. We are developing so fast over there,” he adds that three additional schools are slated for completion in China this year.

In China and elsewhere, employees are at the heart of the social component of the company’s three-prong sustainability course. The company is now establishing “social regional offices,” devoted to assessing and selecting projects. Rizzo declines to put a dollar figure on this investment and says, “most of it is driven by man hours, time spent by our employees.” Another 2008 goal “is to come up with a consistent strategy to identify causes for investment that will be evaluated by employees and management.”

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