633 Folsom is an extensive retrofit of a office building in San Francisco by Gensler, WJE, Atelier Ten, and Permasteelisa.

New Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules requiring publicly-traded real estate companies to report greenhouse gas emissions as well as the potential physical risks posed by climate change to their buildings are likely to be introduced by the end of the year. Despite some concerns during public comment from within the industry, the SEC is pushing ahead and giving investors more tools and information regarding climate change in assessing investment risks. That’s an understandable move.

The Swig Company is a privately-owned real estate operator and investor and, like thousands of other private firms in North America, isn’t required to provide data of greenhouse gas emissions to anyone—not investors, lenders, or partners. But we do it anyway. Here’s why.

Sustainability has been a core value of The Swig Company since our founding more than 85 years ago and is woven into our company culture. We have been enthusiastic participants in Energy Star, LEED WELL, and WELL Health & Safety certifications, moving further toward futureproofing our buildings for sustainable operation.

For example, in 2013 we achieved LEED Gold certification at the Mills Building at 220 Montgomery Street, a downtown San Francisco property constructed in 1892 and which we have owned continuously since 1954. Four years later, our additional attention to the building led 220 Montgomery to become one of the first multitenant office buildings in the city to claim Platinum certification. During the pandemic, we added to our sustainable goals by fine tuning our efforts to deliver superior interior environmental quality and received a health and safety rating for the building as well as most of our eight million square foot portfolio through the International WELL Building Institute. The building also plays a part in downtown San Francisco’s biodiversity. In 2018 we installed beehives on the roof to support communities of honeybees, important urban pollinators.

These are approaches we’ve taken throughout our national portfolio. A 2017 renovation at 6300 Wilshire in Los Angeles included an extra focus on optimizing ventilation and comfort control as well as delivering more efficient water and lighting systems. In total, we estimate that these specific improvements will result in the building avoiding 10.6 million pounds (4,808,079 kg) of carbon dioxide over the next 10 years.

More recently, we’ve deepened our commitment to environmental stewardship, positive social impact and responsible governance and sharing that information with stakeholders through the publication of a series of annual reports. For our fourth annual report, the firm published a more comprehensive ESG report based on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), an industry standard framework.

Transitioning to a GRI-based report was an important step towards specific, measurable goal setting and accountability, and allowed us to highlight important aspects of our company structure and community initiatives. The expanded report underscores our commitment to setting specific criteria to monitor our sustainability efforts. Reducing impacts on the environment with sustainable building programs starts by evaluating processes and projects that decrease energy consumption, water use and waste, and by adopting strategies that mitigate climate risk.

We’ve also incorporated climate-related considerations into our budget and strategic planning processes, deploying risk assessment tools to help us plan for greater resiliency in the face of climate change among our properties and we continue to evaluate other tools.

However, ESG is much more than greenhouse gas measurement and demands truly generational thinking. Through its long history, The Swig Company has been a highly responsible corporate partner to the community, supporting many social, cultural, and philanthropic initiatives and this is an important component of our mission. Our latest report outlines in detail our increased community engagement activities, such as growing the Engaging Tomorrow’s Workforce initiative through partnerships with organizations that support underserved students. The report also details our heightened support for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by adding binding DEI language to vendor contracts, reporting on the diversity of our workforce and other initiatives.

We’ve also invested in the technology tools we think will engage our tenants—now and into the future—and maintain them as valued partners in our ESG efforts. Our h3experiences app, downloadable on Google Play and the iTunes App Store, allows our tenants to tap into more flexible office solutions, locate and book onsite meeting and conference facilities, event spaces and access health and wellness programming, as well as learn about our community partners and participate in community initiatives.

As a private company, we’ve made these significant investments in ESG—and continue to research and plan future investments—because we believe we can’t afford not to. Addressing issues such as climate change, diversity, equity, and inclusion and supporting our community are integral to the future of our industry, our neighborhoods, and our planet. For this reason alone, ESG is not just a public company issue. It’s an issue for every company. That’s why we believe providing transparency into our ongoing ESG efforts is an imperative.

DEBORAH BOYER is executive vice president and director of Innovation and Community Impact for The Swig Company. KAIREE TANN is vice president for Innovation and Asset Management.