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(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

JACKSONVILLE, FL-Regency Centers has turned the valves on an outdoor water conservation initiative at 36 retail properties across the country, installing high-efficiency “smart” irrigation controllers. The majority of systems will be installed at its shopping centers in California, with others being placed in Colorado, Oregon, Arizona and Washington.

“Combined, we anticipate that we’ll save more than 42 million gallons of water per year, which will result in significant cost savings to our company and our tenants,” says Mark Peternell, vice president of sustainability for Jacksonville-based Regency Centers. He notes that the new irrigation controllers tap local weather data to adjust water amount, timing and duration, thereby reducing over-watering and runoff.

Savings for Regency Centers, which posted 25% higher FFO of $85 million in the third quarter, will be realized not only from reduced water bills but also by avoiding sewer overcharges and landscape replacement, reports Peternell. Depending on the success of the pilot program, he says the systems will be expanded to the rest of the REIT’s 443-property portfolio.

Water conservation is part of Regency Centers’ “greengenuity” initiative to improve environmental performance at existing shopping centers and new developments. The REIT is among 21 companies partnering with the US Department of Energy’s Net-Zero Commercial Building Initiative to advance market adoption of current conservation technologies and show measurable utility savings in their buildings, according to a company release.

Regency Centers’ portfolio totals 59 million square feet of retail in major markets. It has invested more than $3 billion in developing nearly 200 shopping centers since 2000.

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