The Environment+Energy Leader honoree program is an annual list that recognizes the environment and energy “doers” who break trail in creating new solutions, programs, platforms, best practices and products to help their companies – or other companies – achieve greater success in commercial and industrial environment and energy management. Meet the Honorees… is an ongoing series that will feature one E+E Honoree from 2022 each week. See the complete list of 2022 Honorees here.
Meet Natalie Teear, senior Vice President of innovation, sustainability and social impact with Hudson Pacific Properties. Natalie is responsible for leading Hudson Pacific’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) program as well as its work on innovation and property technology (proptech). As a leading owner, operator and developer of premier creative office and studio properties in global epicenters for tech and media, Hudson Pacific “has always been committed to sustainability and innovation,” Natalie says. “My task, when I joined the company in 2019, was to formalize that commitment and take it to the next level. Today I lead our ESG platform, Better Blueprint, which strives to foster the growth of sustainable, healthy and equitable cities built for the long term.” Natalie’s ESG team develops strategies and designs initiatives that span a diverse set of topics, including building decarbonization, zero waste, health and wellness, COVID-19 pandemic response, charitable giving, impact investing, and diversity, equity and inclusion. On the proptech side, her team thinks about how to leverage new and emerging technologies to not only advance their Better Blueprint objectives but also to streamline operations, enhance tenant satisfaction and drive incremental NOI. “My role requires a lot of collaboration with our various functions and regions, as well as extensive external engagement with investors, tenants, vendors, regulators, and other stakeholders,” Natalie says.
Tell us about your biggest energy management challenge and how you are addressing it.
NT: Energy efficiency has always been a priority for our building engineering and property management teams — thanks to their hard work over the years, over 83% of our in-service office portfolio is LEED certified and over 72% is ENERGY STAR certified, and our energy use intensity figures are some of the lowest in the industry.
In early 2020, we went further and set a target to be 100% carbon neutral in our operations (Scope 1 and 2) by 2025, but of course just a few months later, the Covid-19 pandemic became our top priority. Every team within the organization came together to establish how to keep our properties as safe as possible. We put processes and procedures into place that had no prior precedent, and we were proud to be one of the first major landlords to achieve Fitwel Viral Response certification over our operational approach to the pandemic.
However, like many building operators, we quickly realized that our commitment to health and safety might involve some sustainability trade-offs — specifically, increasing ventilation and air filtration meant we needed to run our HVAC systems longer and harder than we did before the pandemic. Once we realized what these operational changes would mean for our energy use over time, we decided to accelerate our carbon neutrality strategy and decouple our carbon footprint from our energy consumption entirely. In September 2020, we achieved our carbon neutrality goal five years early, largely by supplementing our energy efficiency and clean energy procurement strategies with renewable energy certificates and verified emissions reduction credits.
We are now working to reduce our reliance on these offsetting instruments with a Science-Based Target to reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 emissions 50% by 2030, from a 2018 baseline. We plan to achieve this target through continued investment in clean energy procurement, on-site renewables, and energy efficiency enabled by innovative use of emerging sustainable technologies.
What was a successful project or implementation you worked on at your company that you can share? Do you have any tips that would help colleagues at other companies who are contemplating similar projects?
NT: In addition to our energy efficiency and carbon neutrality work, which focuses on our operational portfolio, I am also so proud of all the ways our company has integrated our Better Blueprint priorities into our development pipeline. For example, at EPIC, a new Hollywood office tower that is fully leased to Netflix, our development team worked with architects to install building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) into the façade of the building. The installation was the first of its kind for a large commercial building in the city of Los Angeles, and the BIPV technology enables EPIC to generate solar energy for on-site use directly from the façade.
At One Westside, a West Los Angeles mall that we recently transformed into a creative office campus for Google, our team made adaptive reuse a priority. By reusing steel and other structural materials from the former mall, we reduced the project’s embodied carbon footprint by approximately 33%.
Finally, at Burrard Exchange, a new 16-story tower in the planning stages for downtown Vancouver, our team will reduce embodied carbon through a hybrid mass timber approach that will create one of the tallest exposed mass timber office buildings in North America. One of the things I love most about these three examples is that my team had very little involvement with any of them — which to me is an indication that we have successfully integrated Better Blueprint into our company culture and way of doing business.
My advice for colleagues who are contemplating similar projects is don’t forget about the people at the center of it all. Lean into technology and innovation, but you can only do so much without buy-in and commitment from all the people doing the work.
Do you have a favorite hobby or passion that has had an impact on you and your work?
NT: I recently purchased an e-bike with a cargo seat on the back for my kids. It’s been so much fun to zip around town on it, and it’s really changed my approach and thoughts on sustainable mobility, especially living in a city like Los Angeles that is so car-centric.
Editor’s note: nominations are now open for this year’s E+E Honorees. Nominate a colleague — or yourself — for the 2022 E+E Honorees today.