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LOS ANGELES-The number of CB Richard Ellis professionals who have earned the LEED Accredited Professional designation has reached 400 as the L.A.-based company focuses on sustainability in terms of its people, its clients and the portfolio it manages, according to the company’s national director of sustainability. Dave Pogue tells GlobeSt.com that, in addition to the 400 CBRE professionals who have attained LEED AP designation, which signifies an advanced depth of knowledge in green building practices, more than 2,000 CBRE professionals have completed BOMA’s Building Energy Efficiency Program (BEEP) and more than 100 have attained CBRE’s own internal Green Knights designation. The BEEP program teaches commercial real estate professionals how to reduce energy consumption, and Green Knights is a CBRE asset services program that helps clients strategically transform their facility operations via sustainable practices and products.

Completing the requirements for the AP, BEEP and Green Knights programs requires significant commitments of time and study, according to Pogue, who says that the focus on sustainability derives both from CBRE’s own internal initiatives as well as a growing interest in sustainability by the company’s clients. CBRE in May 2007 launched an initiative to assist clients with energy efficiency programs in the more than two billion square feet of properties it manages around the world, and it launched a plan later in 2007 to enroll 100 of the US office buildings that it manages in the US Green Building Council’s portfolio program for green operating standards.

Pogue says that the emphasis on training in sustainability is part of CBRE’s overall focus on training and education generally. “In the asset services world alone, we have more than 100 courses online,” he points out. On the client side, Pogue adds, landlords are requesting services such as LEED certification on their buildings or LEED certification on their tenant improvement work, and a small but growing number of tenants want only to consider green buildings when they are looking for new space.

CBRE is more than half way to reaching the 100-building goal that it has targeted for the USGBC’s portfolio program, which is just one part of the L.A.-based company’s effort to aid clients in LEED certification. “We have registered almost 300 buildings” whose owners are interested in pursuing LEED certification, Pogue says. In its USGBC portfolio program, 51 buildings have either gained certification or have finished their performance period for it, and CBRE anticipates that it will reach the 100 mark by the middle of or late next year.

CBRE’s sustainability efforts began before the recession arrived, and Pogue observes that the downturn has generally affected clients’ sustainability efforts in two ways: Building owners are reluctant to spend large sums of capital, so major retrofits have been unlikely to move forward, the CBRE sustainability chief says. However, building owners are eager to trim expenses, so they are embracing sustainability programs that reduce energy or water consumption, paper usage or many of the myriad facets of building operations that are part of sustainability programs.

In addition, some clients are pursuing certification because they see it as a marketing advantage. “To be the first of or one of few to be certified helps them to separate themselves from the rest of the market,” Pogue says.

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