Gurfel Named Executive Director, Urban Land Institute Greenprint Center for Building Performance

Words: Dan KamysGurfel Named Executive Director, Urban Land Institute Greenprint Center for Building Performance

Helen A. Gurfel, a widely renowned expert in real estate investment and sustainability, has been named executive director of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Greenprint Center for Building Performance, the institute announced this week.

The ULI Greenprint Center is a unique industry-led initiative comprised of real estate owners, investors, financial institutions and other industry stakeholders who contribute information and measure individual building and portfolio performance on the basis of energy consumption, carbon emissions and several other environmental-related factors. The center was created in January following the transfer of activities and assets of the Greenprint Foundation to ULI. The center is assuming the Greenprint Foundation’s mission, which is to lead the global real estate community toward value-enhancing carbon reduction strategies.
Gurfel, who will join ULI’s staff on May 8, was most recently a director of GE Capital Real Estate’s global sustainability group.  As the executive director of the ULI Greenprint Center, she will be responsible for the overall management and executive leadership of the center and the implementation of its work program.  In addition, she will direct the production of the center’s annual Greenprint Performance Report as well as other associated research and work products. 

During her time at GE Capital Real Estate, Gurfel spearheaded a number of initiatives, including the development  of sustainability programs for GE’s portfolios in France, Canada, and the United Kingdom; leading a rooftop solar program to deploy solar installations across properties in North America and the United Kingdom; incorporating innovative technologies into GE-owned properties; strengthening public-private partnerships in order to promote sustainability; and most recently developing a global strategy to measure energy consumption, cost, and emissions across GE’s portfolio. During her time at GE, she was also a member of the GE Capital Real Estate’s global valuation team and GE Energy Financial Services’ portfolio management team. Prior to her work at GE, she attended the Wharton School and the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to graduate school, she conducted strategic consulting and system integration work for PricewaterhouseCoopers. She also holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from Columbia University.

The center’s worldwide alliance of members is steadily expanding, which is making Greenprint’s collection of property data richer and more extensive. The flagship product of the ULI Greenprint Center is its Greenprint Performance Report, which includes the Greenprint Carbon Index (GCX), a tool used by Greenprint members to gauge relative progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions over time. The first volume of the report, issued in 2010, contained results obtained from performance during 2009 as a baseline measurement. The second volume, issued in 2011, had results for 2010 that included 1,623 properties in the Americas, Europe and Asia, and which covered a total of 31 million square meters of commercial space. It showed a 0.6 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the previous year on the like-for-like portfolio of submitted properties.

The international scope and size of the report, including the GCX, make it one of the real estate industry’s largest, most verifiable, transparent and comprehensive energy benchmarking tools. It is unique in that it provides an open standard for measuring, benchmarking and tracking energy usage and resulting emissions on a building or portfolio basis. The third volume is expected to be released in the summer of 2012.
The ULI Greenprint Center is part of ULI’s broader Climate, Land Use and Energy (CLUE) initiative, which promotes industry best practices regarding environmentally conscious design and development that conserves energy, land and natural resources. Gurfel will head up the center’s staff in its new headquarters, located at 270 Lafayette Street in New York City alongside the offices of the ULI New York district council.

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