Jon Ratner is leading the charge for Forest City Enterprises to focus on its ecological impact.
It all started in Denver in 2004. Forest City Enterprises took on a 4,700-acre mixed-use renovations project, transforming the former Denver International Airport into the Northfield Stapleton development. Ratner used the Stapleton project as a chance to incorporate some of his environmental interests, not knowing the initiative would shake up the entire company culture and eventually make sustainability a corporate core value.
Two years later, Forest City created a department of sustainability, and Ratner found himself the first vice president of sustainability initiatives at the 88-year-old family business. Now, the company had a “triple bottom line” to meet — financial, social and environmental.
The company works to improve the ecological footprint of its managed portfolio. Forest City claims more than 35 million square feet of commercial space and 40,000 residential units, and now developments receive a retail tenant handbook that offers sustainability guidelines and requirements. Last year, it completed 27 retro-commissioning projects, which represented more than $500,000 in savings.
Additionally, Ratner wanted to promote employee ownership of sustainability, so he launched WorkGreen, a program that incorporates internal sustainability as an underlying theme to Forest City’s corporate culture. In order to make an otherwise vague concept — sustainability — immediately relevant to employees, WorkGreen outlines seven specific areas of impact: energy, water conservation, waste and recycling, procurement, transportation, health and wellness, and community involvement.
By taking measures such as installing low-flow bathroom fixtures, putting in energy-saving bulbs and instituting a power management program for office computers, the $10.5 billion commercial and residential real estate giant is saving big — both for the planet and the company’s bottom line.
The benefits are almost immediate. Within the first year of implementing the power management program for Forest City’s 2,400 computers, the company projected both financial savings of $140,000 and environmental savings of 3,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Every office is contributing to the cause. For example, in Boston, a shuttle service now reduces vehicle trips by 600 per week, and in Denver, the office’s used printer cartridges are donated to a local school, which recycles them for a fund-raiser.
HOW TO REACH: Forest City Enterprises, (216) 621-6060 or www.forestcity.net