By Ellie Troxell

About the Author – Ellie Troxell is an Associate on the Impact Team at Harrison Street Real Estate, LLC— an investment management firm exclusively focused on alternative real assets—based in Chicago, IL. She supports the development and day-to-day implementation of the Firm’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) program including providing energy and environmental data management and analytics, performance tracking, and project-based support. She also supports the net-zero carbon pathway for the Firm’s real estate assets and corporate operations. Ellie holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs as well as a BS in Civil Engineering and BA in Liberal Arts from Colorado State University. She is a LEED Green Associate and American Institute of Certified Planners candidate.

Brendle Group’s mission to be impact-driven, people-centered serves as a guidepost for my professional mission to empower positive change through the built environment. As the urgency of climate change only increases, exemplified by the IPCC’s latest report designating a “code red for humanity”, the need for collective, lasting impact grows. My time at Brendle Group continues to shape how I think about, define, and operationalize impact in my current role on the Impact Team at Harrison Street.

Impact is creative. Given that Harrison Street is first and foremost a fiduciary, the foundation for ESG to scale and be both a differentiator and an accretive, value-add initiative requires thinking creatively on how we can innovate on a traditional business model. Brendle Group fosters sustainability-oriented creativity that reflects the unique needs of each client and industry. We need to challenge ourselves to express creative, boundary-pushing perspectives on how we ideate solutions to our environmental crises.

Impact is collaborative. In real estate, ESG has turned from a fringe topic to mainstream over the last year with 2020 kicking off the “ESG era.” To reach our ambitious goals in the near and long-term, we need to collaborate with third-party consultants, like Brendle Group, and vendors to serve as an extension of our team and build internal capacity. It also requires redefining our competitors as collaborators and allies to pursue collective action and innovation.
Impact is transdisciplinary. Brendle Group transcends disciplinary boundaries to offer integrated services and approaches for clients. Real estate needs to take a similar transdisciplinary perspective in how we hire and structure our ESG and firm-wide teams to anticipate the diverse skillsets and perspectives necessary to meaningfully address climate change upstream and downstream in our sector.

Impact is change management. Often not explicitly called out in an RFP or the focus of a project, Brendle Group approaches change management as foundational to planning and implementation. Change management is a challenging, continuous process necessary to catalyze and enable systems change and systems leadership. This is particularly important as the built environment has an outsized contribution to climate change, accounting for nearly 40% of carbon dioxide emissions globally (Architecture2030).

Congratulations to the Brendle Group team, past and present, for 25 years at the front lines of sustainability! My career has been indelibly shaped by Brendle Group first as an intern, later as an engineer, and remains through the lasting friendships, mentorship, thought leadership, and community it provides.