CEBA Member Highlight: Welltower

A Q&A showcasing one of CEBA’s newest members, Welltower, and the company’s renewable energy journey as detailed by Kirby Brendsel, AVP Sustainability & ESG.

What prompted your organization to join the CEBA community? 

One of our key motivations for joining REBA is the opportunity to network with renewable energy practitioners who are working on projects similar to ours. The ability to see what others are doing in this space and gain insights to better address our own challenges is a significant value driver. We also joined REBA to engage more deeply in the renewable energy community. We want to contribute our knowledge, experience, and lessons learned to this community so that other renewable energy buyers might also learn from them.  

What has been your biggest challenge in renewable energy procurement? 

Our biggest challenge is finding new ways to communicate the importance of renewable energy with a wide variety of stakeholders who are unfamiliar with renewables. Sharing the value of renewable energy and encouraging our stakeholders to champion renewables is paramount to our team’s success. Since joining CEBA, we have found that stakeholder education is a hurdle shared by many, and we look forward to engaging with the community on this challenge. 

Looking forward, what does the future of renewables look like for Welltower? 

With successful renewable projects in our portfolio, we are now looking for new ways to incorporate renewable energy into our business strategy and priorities. In 2019, we set our first environmental goal: a 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and water and energy use by 2025 from our 2018 baseline. We are now considering new environmental targets that are more explicitly focused on renewable energy use. We are also looking for more impactful ways to procure renewable energy. 

Looking back, what is the most interesting renewables project you have worked on during your time at Welltower? 

We did a ground-mount on-site solar project in Massachusetts that was particularly interesting. We own two adjacent lots – the property is on one lot, and we built the on-site system on the other lot. The amount of energy this ground-mount system is producing is much greater than if we had been constricted by mounting it on a roof. Building a ground-mount project also meant we did not have to deal with roof maintenance, which greatly reduced costs (and headaches). All in all, a really cool project! 

Envision a future where every organization has a viable, expedient, and cost-effective pathway to renewable energy. What is the next step to get there? 

We need to intensify the focus on sustainability and renewable energy at more organizations. Corporate commitments to sustainability and renewable energy are growing – I am seeing this play out in real estate, where companies that have never had a sustainability report or sustainability goals are now adopting these practices. While these developments are encouraging, we need more. Every company has its own culture and every leader has their own motivations, but to move towards a zero-carbon energy future, we need all corporates to commit to sustainability and renewable energy procurement. 

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