IREM Global Summit | Chicago | October 10-13

IREM Global Summit | Chicago | October 10-13

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IREM Certified Sustainable Property FAQs

Do property exteriors count toward the minimum square footage prerequisite?
If building exteriors such as hardscapes, parking lots, and landscaped areas support the property’s sustainability initiatives, the square footage of those exteriors can contribute up to 7,500 square feet toward the minimum total of 25,000 square feet required to achieve the IREM Certified Sustainable Property certification.

I have a mixed-use property that is comprised of three different property types—30% office, 40% residential, and 30% retail. Which property type should I choose for certification?
Choose the property type that comprises the largest portion of the property, as long as that portion meets the certification prerequisites. In the example above, the property would be eligible to become an IREM Certified Sustainable Property under the multifamily version of the program, as long as the residential portion had at least 50 units at minimum 75% occupancy and was at least 18 months from substantial completion or repositioning.

Are new construction developments eligible for the certification?
The IREM Certified Sustainable Property certification is for existing properties. The property must be at least 18 months from substantial completion or repositioning and at least 75% occupied to qualify for the certification.
For new construction developments, IREM recommends that you establish your property management and operations program according to the standards of the IREM Certified Sustainable Property certification. You can then apply for the certification at the appropriate time following completion and lease-up, once those prerequisites are met.

My company does not yet have a sustainability program. Is this certification right for my properties?
Yes. You can use the certification standards and tools as a framework for establishing a cost-saving, value-enhancing sustainability program. The program includes all of the templates, checklists, questionnaires, and tools you need to start a sustainability program from scratch.

Start with the Baseline Requirements, which lay the foundation for your sustainability program through benchmarking, policies, and self-assessments. Then begin with the most practical point activities for the property and work your way through the more difficult activities.

My company has sustainability policies that apply to our entire portfolio. Do we have to send IREM these policies for each property we certify?
No. Send your policies to IREM at sustainability@irem.org once at the beginning of your participation in the program. IREM will place them on file to apply to all of your certification applications. This is an excellent way to save time when working through multiple certifications.

Note: your proprietary information will be kept secure and will not be shared with any third parties.

How and when do I pay the application fee?
Please fill out the bottom of the application form to indicate how you will be paying the application fee.

There are a few ways to pay the application fee. You can either choose to be invoiced, enclose a check with your application and mail it the IREM Headquarters, or enter your credit card information on the application form.

The application fee should be paid at the time of application. IREM cannot begin review of your application until we receive the application fee. The application fee covers the initial and subsequent reviews, if necessary after you make corrections to and resubmit your application package.

Why is the application fee so affordable?
IREM developed the program with the Yardi Energy Efficiency Grant, awarded to the Institute and other leading organizations to create programs and resources that reduce the energy consumption of office, residential, and mixed-used properties. The grant helps to keep the application fees reasonable.

IREM is committed to the certification program as an accessible and affordable recognition so that IREM Members and others in the industry can demonstrate quality, responsible management.

How do I set the property’s baseline to earn points toward certification for performance improvements?
You may set the property’s baseline going back three years from the date you begin working on the certification for the property. For example, if you begin working on a certification on August 22, 2017, you may set the baseline beginning January 1, 2014, and choose any year-over-year period in that timeframe to show the performance improvement.

What energy and water metrics should I submit to IREM?
IREM is an ENERGY STAR Partner and strongly recommends using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to benchmark and track energy, water, and waste.

If you use ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager to benchmark and track energy and water consumption, use:

  • Site EUI for as much of the property you are able to track
  • Year-over-year water consumption in kgals for as much of the property you are able to track

Most properties submit standard reports from ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager such as the Energy and Water Performance Report to prove that they have achieved performance improvement points.
If you do not use ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, you may submit year-over-year energy and water metrics. Email sustainability@irem.org if you have any questions.

Does IREM have a volume program if I would like to certify a portfolio of properties?
Yes. You can qualify for the IREM Certified Sustainable Property Volume Program if you have a sustainability program for your portfolio and:

Volume Program participants receive the following benefits:

  • Equivalency analysis to determine which certification requirements are covered by your existing sustainability program
  • Customized certification materials with equivalencies removed
  • Expedited certification process
  • Discounted application fees
  • Recognition by IREM
  • Complimentary IREM energy management courses

To participate in the Volume Program, complete the Enrollment Form and return it to IREM at  sustainability@irem.org.

How does the IREM Certified Sustainable Property program integrate with ENERGY STAR?
IREM is an ENERGY STAR Partner, and we have integrated ENERGY STAR programs and resources into the certification.

  • ENERGY STAR certified properties can claim ALL Energy category points—immediately giving them about 35% of the points required for the IREM certification.
  • Office properties and multifamily communities can earn points toward the IREM certification with a minimum ENERGY STAR score of 60.
  • Energy and water benchmarking is required to earn the IREM certification, and IREM strongly encourages use of the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager benchmarking tool.
  • You can submit standard ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager reports to demonstrate achievement of requirements and point activities.
  • Properties can earn points by using and recommending ENERGY STAR products and appliances.

What can IREM do to assist my team through the certification process?
IREM is able to assist in a variety of ways. We can:

  • Conduct a 30-minute webinar overview of the certification process with you and/or your teams.
  • Take a first pass through the certification checklist with you, to assess where you stand in achieving the certification.
  • Recommend strategies for completing the certification process for your properties.
  • Host a certification kick-off call with your team.
  • Answer any questions that you have or that arise as you complete the certification process.
  • Refer you to others who have certified properties for tips, best practices, and strategies.
  • Direct you to solutions providers who can help with the certification process.

Contact IREM at  sustainability@irem.org  to discuss your needs.

What if my property is not yet benchmarked?
Benchmarking is good business. As the adage goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. For this reason, benchmarking is included in Best Practices: Real Estate Management Service, which IREM developed to guide and support real estate management companies committed to operating their businesses successfully and in a professional manner.

Benchmarking energy and water consumption are also Baseline Requirements—meaning you have to benchmark in order to achieve the certification. IREM recommends using the free ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager benchmarking tool. We also accept other tools. Once you benchmark the property, you can begin to make improvements in energy and water efficiency and improve your property’s diversion rate (the amount of waste diverted from the landfill through recycling and reuse). A property can earn several points toward certification by making these performance improvements. But benchmarking is foundational to sustainability and a necessary first step if you are just getting started.

Does the IREM certification count toward my portfolio’s GRESB assessment?
Yes. IREM is a GRESB Premier Partner, and an IREM Certified Sustainable Property contributes to your GRESB score in the Building Certifications Aspect of the assessment. The IREM certification allows GRESB participants to scale sustainability across their portfolios and earn recognition for properties not yet covered by a certification program.

What is the review process for an application for certification?
IREM staff conducts an initial review of your full application package. Final review and approval is through IREM’s Sustainability Advisory Board comprised of 14 sustainability subject matters experts. Throughout the review, IREM may ask for clarifications, work with you to fill any gaps, and allow you to supplement your application package with additional information or materials. The process takes anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks.

What happens if IREM does not accept my initial application?
IREM will notify you if your initial application is not accepted and will work with you to rectify any issues. If necessary, we will send a corrections checklist to explain the issues we found and what you can do to fix them. We are more than happy to host a webinar in order to further explain our review and answer any specific questions you may have.

After you fix the issues, you may resubmit your application.

Where can I find more information on the IREM Certified Sustainable Property program?
Download this Certification Overview. If you have other questions or would like to schedule a webinar on the certification process, email IREM at  sustainability@irem.org .

How will my property be recognized by IREM as a CSP?
Your CSP will be recognized in the following ways:

  • A listing in our online directory of certified properties
  • Eligibility to place the certification logo on the property website and marketing collateral
  • Listing in the IREM Insider section of JPM
  • Option to order a certification award plaque for display in the property’s entrance, lobby, leasing office, or other prominent location
  • Option to send out a press release, using IREM’s customizable template

IREM also invites you to share case studies and stories on the certification process or the property’s sustainability success for the IREM Blog, Real Estate Management News, or JPM.

My property is already LEED-certified – why should I get the IREM CSP? Does LEED certification make the CSP certification process easier?
LEED O+M properties can fast track to the CSP by claiming ALL Energy, Water, Recycling, and Purchasing points.

This means that you only have to do the following to earn the CSP for your LEED-certified property:

  • Complete the first five Baseline Requirements
  • Earn at least two points in the Health category
  • Apply and pay the application fee

That’s it. These simple steps will earn you another prestigious sustainability certification—putting your property ahead of the competition.

Does the IREM CSP apply to properties outside the U.S.?
Currently, the CSP is only available to U.S. properties.

IREM encourages non-U.S. properties to use the CSP as a framework for expanding sustainability programs and educating staff on sustainable practices.

Can HOAs/condos apply under the multifamily category?
Yes. If you encounter any issues using the Multifamily Community requirements and materials for this property type, contact IREM at sustainabiliity@irem.org.

Is there a recertification process? If so, how does this work? How often?
Recertification is every three years. After three years, you have a full calendar year to recertify. For example, if you certify your property in August 2017, you must recertify your property by December 31, 2020.

The recertification process is currently in development. Please check back soon for additional details.

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