1. What is the most interesting idea you’ve encountered in your world lately?
For the first time, it seems to be dawning on even the least progressive real estate owners that the ultimate human users/occupiers of real estate are actually their customers, not just borrowers to whom they are fronting an interest in real estate in return for repayment over the length (and in the form of) a lease. As a result, seemingly obvious ideas like making offices healthier, more productive places for their users are being treated as acts of genius. In the end, it is a very interesting (but perhaps not brilliant) idea that these customers will want places to work that have some of the best features of being at home during the pandemic without the loneliness.
2. Where do you think no one is looking right now?
In my world, there is a lot of talk about all-electric buildings as the stationary equivalent of the Tesla. What I think is not getting appropriate attention is the huge amount of additional electrical load that will be placed on our new green grids due to all the electricity used by the torrent of all-electric cars and all-electric buildings.
3. If you had a magic wand, what would you change about your industry?
We need more mutual respect across our remarkably balkanized supply chain. It is well known that the ultimate operators and users of real estate seldom communicate effectively with those who are designing or engineering buildings. But sadly, even the architects and engineers seldom really collaborate with each other or the multiple building trade sub-contractors that produce buildings. With a magic wand, I would begin ensuring there was the training of all parts of this chain about the value their fellow professionals across that chain are producing and how communication up and down that chain benefits all of their work…and most importantly the ultimate users.
4. What’s the most rewarding part of what you do?
Helping people get recognition from peers, investors, or government for their world-changing commitments to sustainable real estate.
5. What do you envision the next 12 months will bring?
The roaring 20s with about 70% of our fellow Americans ready and willing to do the “roaring”. Covid is producing a strong minority of permanently hyper-cautious people.
6. What’s your favorite building?
The Bosco Verticale (“Vertical Forest”) in Milan. As a species, our biophilia is real and transformative.
12. Nominate two people who should answer this next. Why?
Harriet Tregoning (former City Planner of DC and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Housing and Community Development at HUD). She focused extensively on resilience in partnership with various major foundations when she worked in the Obama Administration. She is very concerned that communities are just “building back” exactly the way things were built in the past. She now works for World Resources Institute.