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Prupim’s Improver portfolio yields results

Prupim, the real estate investment arm of Prudential, has revealed some initial results of its experimental Improver portfolio.

Real estate special focus

Launched in April 2007, the Improver portfolio comprises 25 Prupim-managed properties across all sectors selected to be managed in a more environment-friendly manner. A year on the portfolio has realized savings in CO2 emissions, waste management as well as on water and energy costs.

“We have been trying to demonstrate to portfolio managers that managing property in a sensible way will enhance returns,” says Paul McNamara, head of research at Prupim in London. “It’s important to show that [addressing sustainability issues] is not negative. The approach taken is organized to guarantee it’s not going to ramp up costs and undermine performance.”

Making sure Prupim is maintaining its fiduciary duties is also of the utmost importance. So part of the Improver portfolio project is meant to show that the firm can do right by its clients as well as the environment.

“Operationally, it’s the right place to be,” says McNamara. “We’re not asking [tenants] for big spends and are not putting our fiduciary duties at risk.”

Most of the changes to managing properties in the Improver portfolio were so-called low-cost or no-cost initiatives. For example, at one of its shopping centres a £5,000 annual saving was made on electricity costs simply by changing the light fittings. That small change also translated into a 36-tonne reduction of CO2 emissions.

At Princeton House, Prupim’s erstwhile London headquarters, the firm was able to achieve a recycling rate of 91.4%. That means of the 110 tonnes of waste generated at the property only 9.5 tonnes went to a landfill. Water consumption was reduced by 40% over four years. In addition, it was able to reduce energy consumption (by changing light bulbs, installing movement sensors) by 16%. That reduction enabled Prupim to upgrade the building’s energy efficiency rating from E to D. McNamara underscores that making these kinds of improvements on existing properties and upgrading efficiency ratings is crucial if property managers are serious about tackling sustainability issues and achieving energy savings.

It will take a number of years worth of data to demonstrate results. However, the findings from the Improver portfolio’s first year are encouraging.

“We’ve learned two key things,” says Tony Bennett, director, property management at Prupim. “It’s possible to review CO2 emissions through low-cost and no-cost activities and make operational cost savings. Also, landlords need to engage with tenants to encourage them to take up the low-cost and no-cost initiatives.”


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