Meet the 100: Marta Schantz, Greenprint Center, Urban Land Institute

The E+E 100 are the VPs, directors, managers and engineers who are making significant strides in driving our industry. See the complete list here or download the report for more detailed information about these leaders. And stay tuned for the Call for Submissions coming in the fall, when you can nominate your favorite sustainability or energy management professional!

Now, meet Marta Schantz, senior VP with the Urban Land Institute. Schantz leads the institute’s Greenprint Center, a worldwide alliance of leading real estate owners, investors, and strategic partners committed to improving the environmental performance of the global real estate industry. Through measurement, benchmarking, knowledge sharing, and implementation of best practices, Greenprint and its members strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in the last year or two?

Skeptics. Working for a real estate industry group, we have many folks who are hesitant to jump on the bandwagon. They’ll choose marble columns instead of LED lights and controls. They stick to what they know. Maybe they were burned once 10 years ago and they’ve never gotten over it. So, for me, skepticism is the biggest challenge.

How have you addressed that challenge?

I’ve been focusing on going big on the business case of projects and the numbers and financial metrics. It also helps to show that others have done it before — especially competitors. This has worked well and has made all the difference.

ULI has about 40,000 members. We have a bunch of local chapters. I spoke at a ULI Michigan event recently. They are all about making money and sticking to what they know. I presented a case study and their jaws dropped and eyes popped. Seeing the payback period for solar, an example of LED retrofit across portfolio, showing them ROI. People were very interested. They were actually engaged in how they can incorporate that into their practice. Energy efficiency may not be sexy, but it’s so impactful.

What advice would you give other professionals as they try to accomplish their sustainability or energy management goals?

Whomever you need to get buy-in to achieve your goals it’s really helpful to think of the situation from their perspective. Think about the facility engineer, think about the financial decision maker, think about the tenant — why would these people care about your goals and projects. Being able to think of different benefits from their perspective is an effective way to get outside stakeholders on board with your goals.

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