Building Lifecycle: Sustainable Development

Forest City creates great places and experiences. We believe that successful placemaking requires us to be different—to listen more, think harder, deliver better and foster stronger partnerships—with communities, residents, civic leaders and partners. The result is a portfolio and pipeline of apartments, office buildings and mixed-use neighborhoods in dynamic U.S. cities that are innovative, connected and authentic. Because we are actively engaged in each project and property, we see unique opportunities, leverage our world-class capabilities and provide superior service.

Forest City primarily develops buildings that we plan to manage long-term. We align our lifecycle approach with our core markets’ long-term sustainability and economic development goals to ensure our properties’ continued vitality. Through our thoughtful, integrated approach to building design and management, we contribute to the resiliency of urban areas facing the impact of climate change and fewer natural resources.

Integrated Approach to Building Design

When designing new properties, Forest City carefully considers the individual attributes of each neighborhood we develop, leading to unique urban settings that harness the power of place. To ensure that our unique development process remains efficient and profitable from one project to the next, we maintain our own in-house building design and construction teams. Our experts have years of experience in evaluating and incorporating the right mix of building materials and technologies across a portfolio that varies greatly in form and function.

Our in-house development team works cross-functionally with a variety of internal experts, including construction, procurement, sustainability, marketing and operations. This integrative development process ensures that Forest City deploys a design strategy that optimizes the long-term efficiency and profitability of each individual project.

Our unique approach to development requires a disciplined and integrated approach that begins early in the design phase and lasts through the end of construction. Every new construction project at Forest City goes through a formal design review process. This process ensures that the development team engages the right experts at each project milestone, identifying and avoiding potential issues before they occur. This drastically reduces the number of expensive design changes incurred during construction and results in delivery of healthier, more efficient properties on time and under budget.

Total Cost of Ownership

Forest City builds with the intent to own and operate our properties for the long term. This strategy allows us to expand our focus beyond short-term development budgets and instead work on optimizing the total lifetime cost of our properties.

Around 70 percent of our portfolio’s lifetime costs occur during the operations phase. We seek to understand the drivers of these long-term ownership costs and identify best practices to reduce our overhead expenses. Focusing on total cost of ownership across our portfolio enhances Forest City’s ability to create shared, lasting value for our core markets, our tenants and our shareholders.

We utilize the latest requirements of green building certifications and standards such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and ENERGY STAR with all of our new construction properties. In addition, we continually evaluate and update our new construction design standards to guide our developers in selecting the raw materials, building equipment and fixtures that maximize the long-term operating efficiency of our properties.

During the transition phase from development to operations, our sustainable operations team assists building managers and engineers in developing Operations and Energy Management Plans for each property. These plans include an annual energy target for the next five years and action measures to help property managers monitor and achieve these targets. Data collected from each property informs and helps prioritize future capital improvement projects, resulting in a more consistent, efficient approach to portfolio management.

Green Building Development

Forest City creates thriving, mixed-use developments that enhance the sustainability efforts of our core markets. The decisions we make today in designing our properties help ensure sustainable value for Forest City, as well as the communities where we do business. We support the sustainability goals of our core markets through an active and thoughtful approach to each development project. This approach sets us apart in creating shared value for Forest City and our communities. For example, our Pier 70 project in San Francisco has a comprehensive sustainability plan that summarizes how the mixed-use project will achieve high levels of performance in all aspects of social, economic and environmental sustainability. To learn more about our focus on equity, resilience and climate protection, read the Pier 70 Sustainability Plan.

We develop in dense urban areas where the built environment contributes a large proportion of the greenhouse gas emissions of major cities. In addition, there is significant demand within our core markets for greater access to affordable housing, public transportation, public green space and local and diverse employment opportunities. Each of our core markets have stated public goals aimed at addressing these issues over the next several years. For this reason, Forest City creates thriving urban centers and properties within our markets that provide key amenities near the places where people live and work. In addition, through our continued focus on green building standards such as LEED and ENERGY STAR, we help contribute to a lower carbon footprint for our markets. In 2017, Forest City strengthened several of our green building goals, which are outlined below:

  • Design energy performance of new buildings will exceed ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2010 by 5 percent. The level of energy performance achieved beyond 5 percent is based on the targeted LEED level
  • Plumbing fixtures will achieve at least 35 percent water savings by total volume for the building compared to a building that has fixtures that meet Energy Policy Acts of 1992 and 2005 minimum flow and flush performance standards
  • Landscaping design and irrigation systems shall achieve in excess of 50 percent water savings compared to industry standard practice for the project location
  • Divert 85 percent of construction and demolition waste and 100 percent of land clearing debris and excavated soil from landfills (all Forest City contractors are required to develop construction waste management plans and track their progress during development)
  • Design new properties to accommodate recycling glass, metal, plastic, paper and cardboard generated during operation
  • Specify ENERGY STAR products in all new development and construction projects
  • Design new properties to comply with our internal Design Standards, which align with LEED v4 Gold certification, at a minimum

In 2017, 13 buildings under development (totaling 4,637,509 square feet) were targeting LEED certification, equivalent to more than 75 percent of total new construction square footage. As an urban, mixed-use developer, we maintain a strong focus on frameworks such as LEED.

We seek to strike a balance between fulfilling our public partners’ needs, meeting our internal sustainability targets and delivering a great experience for all users of the property. However, pursuing our sustainability goals does not always require obtaining specific green building certifications.

Percentage of Newly Constructed/Renovated Properties with LEED Certification Intentions

  2015 2016 2017
Properties (including sold) 82% 80.05% 75%
Properties (excluding sold) 81.2% 79.6% 75%

Healthy Buildings

Providing a high-quality indoor environment is a primary driver of resident health and wellness. Forest City applies a holistic approach to maintain a smart, green and healthy portfolio for residents, tenants and visitors to enjoy. All of Forest City’s new properties require tenant health and safety design components that in many cases exceed the latest green building certification standards.

On a broad scale throughout our buildings, we implement new technologies such as high-performance HVAC units, dedicated outdoor air supply systems and smart building controls to help our building engineers maintain an ideal indoor environment. Our buildings utilize advanced air filtration systems, increased daylighting in resident areas, fitness centers and easy access to outdoor green space.

We enforce smoke-free policies throughout our buildings and work to ensure our paint, janitorial supplies, pest control processes and cleaning techniques all promote a healthy indoor air quality for our residents and tenants.

To track the performance of our healthy buildings over time, Forest City uses internal scorecards to measure key foundational metrics that promote well-being, such as safety and security, air quality, water quality and building design that promotes physical activity across our portfolio. Our scorecard elements align with health and wellness frameworks such as FitWel and WELL certification.

535 Carlton Opens as Pacific Park Brooklyn’s First All-Affordable Community

In June 2017, we opened the doors to 535 Carlton, a LEED-certified, all-affordable apartment community and the newest property in Forest City’s mixed-use Pacific Park Brooklyn neighborhood. The 292,000 square-foot, 18-story building offers homes ranging in size from studios to three bedrooms. The 298 homes are reserved for low, moderate and middle-income New Yorkers, with preference given to municipal employees and those with vision, hearing or mobility disabilities. 
Residents at 535 Carlton enjoy a first-rate amenity package, including a fitness center, yoga studio, game room, children’s playroom and outdoor terrace. This new community is part of a commitment made with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and local community groups in June 2014 to build 2,250 affordable apartments by 2025. There are currently 782 below market-rate units at Pacific Park.
Forest City embraces affordable housing as an important component of our development approach that provides direct social and economic value to the community. These benefits include stronger social diversity and enhanced access to jobs and upward mobility for low-income families.
When complete, Pacific Park Brooklyn will include six million square feet of residential space across 6,430 housing units, including 2,250 affordable rental homes. It also will feature 247,000 square feet of retail, up to 1.6 million square feet of office and eight acres of publicly accessible open space.