The Fogelman family of Memphis, long associated with real estate and development, has given $2 million to the University of Memphis to help it become a world leader in sustainable real estate.

The gift was made to support research into and discussion of sustainable real estate development and to improve understanding of how the industry collectively addresses sustainable development and what its role might be. The need for this type of program first emerged from discussion at a ULI conference. Robert Fogelman, son of Martha and Robert Fogelman and trustee of the Martha and Robert Fogelman Family Foundation, serves as program chair on the ULI Memphis executive committee. The Fogelman family is acting on what it sees as a tremendous need.

The gift, announced May 12 by administrators of the Fogelman College of Business and Economics (FCBE) and the University of Memphis, will underpin key initiatives intended to position the university and the FCBE at the cutting edge of sustainable real estate. The university will recruit a leading professor to fill the new Martha and Robert Fogelman Family Chair of Excellence in Sustainable Real Estate. Courses are being developed or modified that will make sustainable real estate an area of focus for graduate and undergraduate real estate students. In addition, the Fogelman College will hold an annual conference focused on sustainable real estate directed at real estate practitioners as well as national and international scholars.

Finally, attention will be paid in particular to sustainable real estate issues faced by those in the mid- South region of the United States. As part of this focus, the FCBE currently offers a professional real estate certificate on ca-mpus and online, and will hold miniconferences centered on issues germane to sustainability across the region.

Robert Fogelman, grandson of Morris Fogelman, for whom the college is named, and son of the namesake of the new professorship, said at the launch that when he attended an Urban Land Institute meeting about five years ago, developers were saying they thought green development was too expensive and the payback through energy savings took too long. “But more recently, more people in real estate view sustainable real estate as more affordable and more commercially viable,” he said. Figures released by McGraw-Hill Construction suggest that the overall green building market, both nonresidential and residential, is likely to more than double from today’s range of $36 billion to $49 billion to between $96 billion and $140 billion by 2013.

More information on the new program is available from Ronald W. Spahr, chair, University of Memphis Department of Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate, at 901-678-5930; e-mail, fir@memphis.edu.