Earlier this month, Jones Lang LaSalle promoted Michael Jordan from Senior Vice President to National Practice Leader of the firm’s Energy and Sustainability Consulting practice. The Portland, OR-based Jordan is now working with the firm’s Energy and Sustainability Services and Strategic Consulting groups to create broad, holistic programs that extend beyond energy management techniques.
GlobeSt.com: What is the mandate for this new position?
Jordan: We’re mirroring what we’re seeing in the market and the economy in general–which because of environmental, social and portfolio sustainability–are intertwined and really require a systems-thinking approach. Our consulting services help with that systems thinking, [to allow an] overall [corporate workplace and infrastructure] that makes sense for the employees, the cost structure, and the corporate mission. We’re the integrator of a variety of functions, to set strategic direction for leading corporate real estate organizations.
GlobeSt.com: The group is about a year old–how has it evolved?
Jordan: We did start working on our internal sustainability before that. We wanted to make sure we were practicing what we preached. We’ve looked for opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint of our clients–we have worked to bring more green expertise to our building process by familiarizing people with green operations and maintenance issues, and green construction standards and practices. We’re continuing to build capabilities to help clients understand the importance of maintaining building systems in an efficient manner, working on workplace sustainabilities. We’re taking a holistic view of the sustainability equation to include how employees work in their space, and how much space is needed. Occupancy planning has been a problem in real estate on the corporate side for a long time, and there is even more urgency now–vacancy drives up property costs and energy costs. With the rising price of energy and looming carbon pricing, those issues are front and center for corporations. We’re working with our clients to help them understand what to do on this, and how a holistic view goes beyond facilities, infrastructure and energy.
GlobeSt.com: Is that true globally?
Jordan: It depends on the governing body. A global corporation based in the United States is going to be making a difference regardless of where you are. Those same corporations are struggling with doing the right thing while doing the right thing by their shareholders. We have looked at green building policies and standards around the world to help our clients understand the market forces for their peer companies, local regulatory trends and adoption of green building standards and where those are trending around the world. …
Process and operations is a bigger dividing line than geographic regions. For example, in manufacturing or high-tech, the energy management practices for those line operations generally boil down to keep everything running. In an office space, energy management has gotten more sophisticated on demand management in technologies, behavior, and alternative sources of energy. You’ll see a trend of consolidating energy management inside the line and across the line on both sides of the operation as people understand there is expertise they need to take advantage of and apply to their network or manufacturing or production line.
GlobeSt.com: Does your team do walk-throughs of buildings, etc.?
Jordan: We do that, and we train green teams in our client corporations themselves so they can do self-assessment on site. Employee engagement is critical–the leadership opportunity in the corporation is to find a program that employees can join. That’s a big challenge to corporate real estate groups: they need those program management skills and a strategic plan that shows how this creates value for employees, shareholders and managers. We help set that plan in place, working with corporate real estate leaders so they know where to deploy these programs, how they create that kind of value. We bring in information on what’s going on in the market, the social sustainability industry, what makes more economic sense, where trends and movements are in legislation and regulation, what municipalities are required. There’s a ton of information, and we spend a lot of time helping our clients unwind and prioritize that.
GlobeSt.com: How does the “green lease” play into this?
Jordan: Through “green leases” we have found an opportunity to create more common ground between landlord and tenants, where landlords have to understand what tenants are looking for, and corporations have to create that market for space that is located near public transportation, uses water efficiently, provides recycling infrastructure throughout the building, and has a healthy environment for employees with sufficient daylight and ventilation. It’s really a great opportunity for landlords to build out their practices for sustainability, really partnering with their tenants.
GlobeSt.com: Are corporations much more receptive now?
Jordan: It’s a range. Even when the corporate real estate organization reports to finance, some surprisingly are not just ROI-focused, they take a more portfolio-focused approach. They’re not going to do anything foolish regarding their cost structure, but they recognize the opportunity for employee retention and attraction, and some of those hard-to-quantify benefits. They have a clear mission and a commitment to the public to take the right actions. I think it’s working.
GlobeSt.com: Does this continue to grow?
Jordan: There is a lot of creativity being applied, and arguably we’re only scratching the surface of the holistic program, combining workplace strategies, commute strategies for employees, carbon reduction strategies and energy management. Those programs are far from ubiquitous. But there are a lot of market and economic pressure for companies to do much more than they do today. So we have a long way to go.