This month’s cover story of the industry trade publication Commercial Property Executive focused on all things sustainable in commercial real estate. I joined a roundtable of other prominent players for the feature: Helen Gurfel, executive director, ULI Greenprint Center for Building Performance; Nick Stolatis, senior director, global sustainability and enterprise initiatives, TIAA-CREF Global Real Estate; Gary Holtzer, global sustainability officer, Hines; Billy Grayson, director of sustainability, Liberty Property Trust; and David Pogue, global director of corporate responsibility, CBRE Group Inc.

The roundtable dissected what’s coming in commercial real estate and sustainability. There are four main themes that I think are especially prevalent in 2016: energy conservation, green construction standards, tenant-landlord relations, and energy regulations.

Learning to do more with less

I discussed the continued expansion of our Illumi-Nation program with another 60 to 70 projects underway this year, as well as finding ways to add value to our properties by selecting landscape designs and irrigation equipment that promote water efficiency. These value-add projects are especially important as the western U.S. experiences droughts, and many local municipalities consider shopping center irrigation as a non-essential use for water.

Setting a green standard

Kimco’s other major push is in developing sustainable construction standards: We’ve assembled a redevelopment project pipeline in excess of $1 billion, and as we undertake these projects, we want to incorporate uniform standards and best practices into how we build. This is especially important for day-to-day tenant up-fit work, as we’re moving hundreds of retailers in and out of our portfolio on an annual basis, and each new tenant requires some level of construction work. We’re also looking at standards for larger redevelopments where we may reconstruct or otherwise significantly modify shopping centers, which involves site work and building a core and shell. We have to make sure those standards are flexible enough to meet the needs and character of each individual shopping center.

Expanding tenant-landlord relationships

In retail, it’s especially important that landlords make strides to further collaborate with tenants on sustainability efforts. As retail tenants and shopping center owners have their own sustainability goals and planned projects, the only way to truly capitalize on and improve a center’s efficiency is if the two parties work together. Remaining opportunities, such as energy-aligned lease structures, can’t be pursued without closer collaboration.

Tackling energy disclosure mandates

There’s been a steady onset of new energy disclosure regulations over the past five years, and it’s caught many national owners by surprise. Within our own portfolio, approximately 20 percent of our properties are now subject to mandatory disclosure through a city, county, or state requirement. Although some of the regulations were imperfect at first, over time, there have been a number of corrections and improvements that have made it easier for landlords and tenants to comply. This is a new reality, with buyers, sellers, and tenants not having past utilized energy performance data when evaluating properties. Although some owners view energy disclosure negatively, we’re trying to focus on the positive aspects. Kimco feels that energy disclosure and transparency will reflect positively on owners that have invested proactively in sustainability.

To read the article in full, and check out my peers’ insights on the latest trends, head on over to the April edition.