Green Lease Leaders Announces Enhancements

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Last week, the Institute for Market Transformation and the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Alliance announced enhancements to the Green Lease Leaders recognition program. The program was originally launched in 2014 to recognize forward-thinking companies and real estate practitioners who break down barriers to high-performance buildings by revolutionizing leases to incorporate energy efficiency and sustainability. Since its inception, this highly successful program has recognized green leasing efforts in more than 1.3 billion square feet of real estate.

The recently-announced enhancements include the separation of recognition into two levels: silver which recognizes the implementation of green lease language in foundation corporate policies and standard lease forms, and gold which recognizes the execution of green leases. The newly redesigned has more about the enhancements and has added reference guides, online lease assessment tools, and other resources like this informative infographic on building a green lease from The Tower Companies.

For more information on the program, and advice on how to earn recognition, join the webinar “Get Involved with Green Lease Leaders” on Wednesday, November 15th at 2pm.

Resilience in Practice: Prepare Your Building to Respond to Natural Disasters

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As we continue to watch the 2017 hurricane season unfurl, it’s easy to see the impact and devastation that can occur in vulnerable areas. The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season broke into  the top 10 all-time most active seasons and has matched the record number of Category 5 hurricanes (set in 2005) as of September this year. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria have caused massive infrastructure damage that will take years for recovery. Members of the JDM team were affected by both Irma and Maria in the U.S. Virgin Islands, giving us first-hand knowledge of what it takes to prepare and weather these extreme events. It is becoming apparent that as the frequency and strength of storms continue to grow, property vulnerability becomes more of a concern and disaster preparedness a necessity.

“Resilience” may seem like a buzzword right now, but this does not detract from its importance. Your ability to withstand and bounce back from the effects of natural disasters can be a make-or-break proposition if you are located in coastal cities, flood zones, or other susceptible areas. Property damage isn’t the only risk to consider; commercial buildings also face a market risk of tarnishing the perception that your property is a safe and reliable place to work, live, or play. Resilience doesn’t just mean physically making it through the storm, but positioning your building to quickly and cost-effectively return to normal.

Here are a few tips for building operators:

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Congratulations to the GRESB community on a job well done! The GRESB Real Estate Assessment topped its participation numbers yet again in 2017 – reaching over 850 reporting entities, representing 77,000 properties and $3.7 trillion in assets under management. These numbers note eight years of steady growth for GRESB, whose mantra of continuous improvement has driven the incorporation of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors in real estate investment across the globe.

JDM is especially pleased to see how GRESB Real Estate Assessment participants are changing market dynamics and leading the way for energy reduction efforts – a passion of ours and the focus of much of our work.  Specific actions common to GRESB leaders include increasing energy data coverage and management, setting quantifiable energy reduction targets, incorporating sustainability clauses in lease contracts, and engaging stakeholders in energy efficiency efforts.  JDM is excited to see the financial benefits of energy efficiency emerge as a standard practice in the real estate investment community, thanks in large part to GRESB.

We are also very pleased that JDM clients again received outstanding GRESB results in 2017. JDM assisted numerous fund managers representing nearly a dozen funds with advice and support on their GRESB Real Estate Assessments this year. All funds improved their GRESB scores as compared to 2016, demonstrating sustained industry leadership – even funds battling stiff competition in diverse peer groups posted impressive results.  2017 client highlights include:

How do we help our clients continue to improve their GRESB results year after year? We leverage our intimate knowledge of the GRESB reporting process – and our extensive experience in sustainability and energy management – and help curate winning assessment narratives that engage stakeholders and “tell the story.”  We analyze our clients’ portfolio objectives, corporate strengths, and use GRESB scores to benchmark areas of opportunity, and develop action-oriented recommendations that create value (and help improve GRESB results).

While many folks are mulling over GRESB results, we find that now is the time to identify opportunities, set priorities, and build out ESG strategies and budgets – setting the stage for continued performance improvements.  From energy efficiency to stakeholder engagement, from resilience and governance to greenhouse gases and health and wellness – the JDM team looks forward to supporting the greater GRESB community on your ESG initiatives.

For more of our GRESB insights, visit: Leveraging GRESB – 5 Strategies for Getting the Most out of Your Annual Survey.

To contact JDM Associates about support for your GRESB efforts, click here.

JDM’s Sustainability Summer Reading List

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Summer is perfect for relaxing with a cold drink and catching up on your reading. The staff at JDM Associates have recommendations for your summer sustainability reading list, whether you’re looking for books to read on the plane or a nice long-form article on your tablet by the pool. Use the last few weeks of August to check out these engaging, informative reads that range from water policy to social media:


Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability, David Owen

Dry Run: Preventing the Next Urban Water Crisis, Jerry Yudelson

Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope

Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, Van Jones

The HIP Investor: Make Bigger Profits by Building a Better World, R. Paul Herman

Articles, Papers, and Reports:

Study: U.S. at Risk of Increased Inequality, Mortality from Climate ChangeBrink Editorial Staff

Final Report: Recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial DisclosuresTCFD/Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures

Climate Change Implications for Real Estate Portfolio Allocation: Industry PerspectivesSven Bienert, Urban Land Institute

Why and How Investors Use ESG Information: Evidence from a Global SurveyAmir Amel-Zadeh and George Serafeim, Harvard Business School

A Practical Guide to ESG Integration for Equity Investing PRI/Principles for Responsible Investment

The State of Green Business, 2017Joel Makower and the Editors of

On the Value of Environmental Certification in the Commercial Real Estate MarketRogier Holtermans (USC Lusk Center for Real Estate) and Nils Kok (Maastricht University School of Business and Economics), Working Paper

Energy is Social: Five ways to scale up energy efficiency from person to personHolly Barrett and Sarah Gibson, Brand Cool


By | Technical Talk | No Comments

As we near the end of summer, it’s important to ensure that your building is still operating efficiently and in alignment with its building load. Since electric utility rates are usually the highest in the summer, inefficiencies could add up, especially if your utility provider has a ratchet clause. If so, a temporary spike in energy will inflate (or “ratchet up”) your demand charges for a subsequent period of months.  Even though most seasonal adjustments for a building are made before summertime, there are some that require ongoing attention throughout the season. Of these, there are two that we remind our clients of most often: HVAC operating schedule adjustments and irrigation system maintenance.

Did you know that the potential annual savings for an average 200,000 square-foot building that reduces their HVAC operating hours by 5 per week can be as much as $14,000 per year? That’s one heck of a reason to make sure your HVAC system is optimized. Some energy management systems (EMS), which in part control a building’s HVAC, have an optimum start function. This function starts up a building’s HVAC in a given morning after monitoring the indoor and outdoor temperatures overnight to determine the optimal start time. If your building has an optimum start function, it’s important to verify this function periodically as part of your preventive maintenance procedure, which generally includes trending the given temperatures and start times. If your EMS doesn’t have an optimal start function, you can manually adjust startup and shutdown times daily as the outside air temperature changes. One strategy for this is to adjust start times in 15-minute increments Tuesday through Friday until optimum start is achieved without sacrificing occupant comfort.

If your property has an irrigation system, it’s also important to ensure that it’s optimized for efficient water usage. For automatic irrigation systems, which are set to a certain schedule, a routine check should be performed on the controller operating schedule, time, and other related settings. Depending on rainfall, maintenance may decide to adjust irrigation runtime schedules to compensate for changing weather conditions. Alternatively, if your irrigation system controller doesn’t include rain sensors, consider incorporating them into your 2018 budget. Typically, they cost no more than $500, including installation, and can reduce a significant percentage of your water usage.

JDM’s Adriel Gaeta, Tom Turnbull, Jess Swaringen, and Sam Gibson contributed to this post.

Get Involved! BOMA and ENERGY STAR Launch New Programs

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Last month at the 2017 BOMA Every Building Conference and Expo in Nashville, TN there were two important announcements about opportunities for commercial building owners, operators, and occupants to improve their sustainability performance and earn recognition for their efforts.

EPA ENERGY STAR® announced the ENERGY STAR Tenant Space pilot program. Formerly known as “Tenant Star”, this program will recognize tenants who meet certain criteria developed by EPA for the design and construction of their leased space. ENERGY STAR is currently seeking “Charter Tenants” to pilot the program. To learn more, or apply to participate in the pilot, visit:

BOMA also launched a new program called BOMA W2: Water and Waste Challenge. The Challenge is a two-year initiative to encourage commercial real estate practitioners to benchmark water and waste consumption and associated costs, and to implement common practices to improve water performance and reduce waste. W2 will officially begin in January 2018 and the two-year competition will run through December 2019. To sign up, or to learn more, visit:

Join us at the BOMA Annual Conference and Expo!

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JDM will be joining industry colleagues to discuss the latest trends in commercial real estate at the BOMA International Conference and Expo from June 24 to June 27 in Nashville, TN. Principal Deb Cloutier will moderate a panel called Improving Asset Insights With Data: Investigating the Impact of Sustainability on Financial Performance in room 205B on Monday, June 26 from 2:15 to 3:15 local time. She’ll be joined by John K. Scott from Colliers International, Jennifer McConkey from Principal Real Estate Investors, and Dr. Robert Simons from Cleveland State University.

JDM’s Andrew White will also be speaking on a panel called Incorporating Energy Efficiency Factors into the Appraisal and Valuation Process in room 204 on Monday, June 26 from 3:30 to 4:30pm local time. He’ll be joined by Cindy Zhu from the Department of Energy and Bruce Kellogg from MG Valuation.

Let us know if you’ll be in Nashville – we hope to see you there!

Congratulations on the most successful Better Buildings Summit!

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By all measures, this year’s Department of Energy Better Building Summit was the most successful with over 1,000 attendees convening in Washington, D.C. from across the nation and all sectors of the commercial building energy efficiency community. JDM Associates was pleased to support DOE in featuring more than 120 sessions on topics ranging from technology solutions, organizational strategies, data driven results and goal getting, to water efficiency and financing. There were opportunities to engage leading experts from the National Labs, tour D.C.’s most efficient buildings (including the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History), and lots of networking and idea sharing with industry leaders. JDM appreciates the opportunity to support an exciting, innovative initiative like Better Buildings and we also love connecting with clients and industry peers. Great presentations came from TH Real Estate, Principal Real Estate Investors, Tishman Speyer, Colliers, Cushman and Wakefield, USAA Real Estate and many others.

To explore the 2017 Summit presentations, click here. We look forward to seeing you at future Better Buildings events. Don’t forget to check out the Solutions Center to catch up on the more than 1,000 proven and replicable strategies for saving energy, incorporating new technologies, and reducing costs from Better Buildings partners, or to join the conversation. Don’t hesitate to reach out to to learn more about the Better Buildings Initiative and JDM’s support of this voluntary public-private partnership.

DOE Pilot Study: Investigating the Financial Performance of Energy Efficient, High-Performance Office Buildings

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For many commercial building owners, the decision of whether they should invest in energy efficiency is a difficult one. Evidence has shown that owning and operating energy efficient, high-performance properties is a sound investment strategy that results in multiple financial benefits, including lower utility bills, higher rents, improved occupancy, and greater net operating income (NOI). Research of this nature is critical to promoting additional investment in energy efficiency among commercial building owners who emphasize data-driven decision making, facts, and empirical evidence to justify their choices and asset management decisions.

However, researchers still struggle to isolate moderating factors and identify specific drivers behind sustainability-related improvements in financial performance. Data sets are highly protected due to their proprietary nature and can be extremely expensive to acquire. These factors limit researchers’ ability to conduct replicable studies and prove hypotheses across different markets and ownership groups. In an attempt to catalyze additional research in this field and promote investigation of potential links between energy efficiency and financial performance, JDM and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) engaged industry leaders to identify solutions to data-sharing challenges. Throughout 2016 a working group discussed and ultimately built out processes that would facilitate more robust analysis of the relationship between sustainability and property cash flows. Read More