We firmly believe that a crucial aspect of driving greater energy efficiency at retail properties is collaboration between landlords, tenants, and utility providers. You might have read our recent press release announcing a first-of-its-kind collaboration with a major utility provider, which is one example of how Kimco is taking tangible steps in this regard.

Linus Ik-Pyo Hong

CLIMATE CORPS FELLOW: Linus Ik-Pyo Hong is a graduate student at Columbia University in New York

In addition to what we’ve already communicated, there is another aspect to this project that is worth sharing. As part of Kimco’s effort to develop strategies for pursuing whole-building energy efficiency opportunities, the company is hosting a fellow this summer from the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) prestigious Climate Corps program.

EDF has a history of collaborating with businesses to solve environmental challenges. It created Climate Corps several years ago to embed top-tier graduate students into large organizations to make the business case for energy efficiency.

Kimco is a first-time participant in EDF Climate Corps, with a goal of advancing meaningful energy efficiency strategies across our portfolio of approximately 130 million square feet of retail real estate.

EDF Climate Corps has uncovered more than $1.2 billion in total energy savings for participating organizations since its launch in 2008. This summer, 106 organizations are taking part in EDF Climate Corps, the biggest class ever.

Westlake Shopping Center exterior

NEW ENERGY: Westlake Shopping Center is the site of our energy makeover project

Linus Ik-Pyo Hong, a graduate student at Columbia University, has joined Kimco’s Sustainability Team this summer, bringing with him real estate and environmental experience from Cushman & Wakefield, The World Bank, and other organizations.

He is helping Kimco by examining energy conservation measures in the context of a living, breathing shopping center environment at Westlake Shopping Center in Daly City, Calif. Our goal is to use Westlake as a test case for how landlords can approach total property energy retrofits that meet the financial and operational constraints common within retail real estate. We believe that just as common area retrofits present viable energy efficiency opportunities, the same is true of building interiors.

Linus’ responsibilities have started with identifying retailer segments at Westlake, their defining characteristics, and which services and delivery models are best suited for their needs. He will evaluate suitable energy efficiency and/or supply measures to include within a property improvement plan.

Linus will also create a multi-year financial model for Westlake, incorporating costs, energy savings, financing considerations, and other cost recovery factors. All of this information will feed a broader set of recommendations Linus will develop. These recommendations will summarize the key opportunities and roadblocks associated with pursuing this type of energy improvement project at other locations across our portfolio of 800+ properties.

Westlake Shopping Center Yogurt Circle

WESTLAKE AND BEYOND: Our long-term goal is to assess the potential for tenant-focused energy services across our portfolio

We chose Westlake for this project for several reasons -- including the presence of a progressive utility partner, state and local governments that have focused policy efforts on energy efficiency, and other site-specific characteristics.

In addition, Westlake is one of Kimco’s largest shopping centers with 685,643 square feet of gross leasable area, and is home to an extremely diverse mix of retailers. We have national, regional, and small-shop retailers across a range of categories, including grocery, apparel, and restaurants. National tenants include Home Depot, Safeway, T.J. Maxx, Starbucks, Chipotle, and Walgreens. We believe that these conditions will be conducive to developing insights that can be applied at other centers within our portfolio.

Participating in EDF Climate Corps will help give us a fresh, independent perspective on one crucial aspect of our long-term corporate responsibility strategy, and we’re looking forward to the ideas that Linus helps us develop. We hope to feature an interview with Linus soon on our blog to share a closer look at what he’s uncovered so far and the progress he’s made.