IREM®: Certifying Sustainability

By Todd Feist, Sustainability Program Manager, IREM®

More than ever, commercial property tenants and residents of multifamily communities associate sustainability with quality workplaces and homes. Sustainability practices by-and-large are simply good management practices. Operational choices and property features that result in resource efficiency and indoor air quality (IAQ) are popular with tenants and residents and can pad your bottom line if done correctly.

For example, preventive maintenance ensures that vents, filters, and fans are clean and functioning properly, resulting in IAQ benefits. Benchmarking and tracking energy and water, especially at a whole-building level, allows management to fine-tune operations and make retrofits that reduce occupancy expenses. Tenants and residents also appreciate programs such as recycling and bike sharing, as well as access to health and wellness amenities, such as onsite fitness rooms. For many tenants and residents, a sustainability certification is shorthand for the availability of these desirable features and amenities.

Class A assets in downtown areas, especially in the largest markets, are virtually required to achieve LEED O+M to maintain competitiveness. The certification cost, which can be significant, still makes financial sense for them. However for properties in city outskirts, suburbs, and submarkets, or multifamily and retail property types, LEED O+M is not in the cards, due to financial and technical impediments.

The IREM® Certified Sustainable Property certification, available for existing office properties, multifamily communities, and shopping centers, is an accessible, achievable, and affordable recognition program for properties unable to achieve LEED O+M status. IREM®’s certification allows properties to take advantage of the cash-flow and marketing benefits of successful sustainability initiatives and helps improve the environment in the process. Certification is not intended to replace LEED O+M. The vital program recognizes an upper echelon of sustainable properties, holding an essential place in the real estate market. However, properties with successful sustainability programs cannot always achieve LEED O+M. They need and deserve access to a shorthand demonstration of sustainable features and amenities.

To fill this need, IREM®’s program includes checklists, templates, questionnaires, and other tools to start a sustainability program from scratch, if needed. These tools allow site staff to access an approachable, step-by-step framework for going green. Companies are already using the IREM certification to implement sustainability initiatives, expand sustainability across their portfolios, and educate site staff on green operations. IREM® has certified nearly 90, with another 100 in the pipeline. A Volume Program allows whole portfolios to efficiently achieve certifications.

To learn how you and your properties can benefit from working with IREM®, visit