Since its founding in 1936, Bulfinch has dedicated itself to protecting the environment and creating stronger communities in the areas which it operates. From day one of the HqO-Bulfinch partnership, they have stood out as a leader in the industry for this very reason.
A lot has changed since 1936. How does Bulfinch continue to embody their core values in the modern commercial real estate (CRE) landscape? Kate Shoss, SVP and Director of Marketing, sat down with our CEO Chase Garbarino to discuss the ways Bulfinch places sustainability, wellness, and charity at the center of their tenant experience.
Fostering a Community-Focused Culture
Kate points out that while Bulfinch’s mission has remained the same at its core, it has transformed tremendously over the years. A key difference, she asserts, is that their team’s focus has expanded beyond their employees to encompass all members of their larger building communities. “It’s not just about building the buildings,” she says, but enhancing “the neighborhood, and the people that live there, and their communities.”
This shift in ideology comes at a pivotal time: more and more social and environmental accountability has been demanded from all sectors of real estate, whether it be imposing emissions caps or young workers demanding increased corporate awareness of worldly issues.
Kate continues to explain that hybrid experiences were a key way that Bulfinch employees could get involved during the pandemic. Their community service offerings, facilitated through partners like Building Impact, aim to go beyond monetary donations and create a holistic experience that is accessible to all.
Whether it be filling a donation bag in-person, assembling a care package virtually, or creating a special message to someone in the community, Bulfinch prioritized these meaningful ways to give back.
Healthy Buildings Create Sustainable Communities
To prioritize sustainability across their portfolio, Bulfinch goes beyond LEED certifications (though they have many of those, too). They view it, Kate says, not only as critical to creating healthy properties, but also critical in protecting the health of tenants and the broader community around them.
Bulfinch’s focus on sustainability is refreshing at a time when prioritizing the environment is not always at the forefront of CRE concerns. In the latest Emerging Trends Report from Urban Land Institute, over 1,600 respondents ranked global warming and sustainability at a mere 3.05 level of importance on a scale of 1 to 5.
In their discussion, Chase recalls the solar panels installed on top of Bulfinch’s Kendrick Street property in Needham, MA. Currently, these solar panels produce a million kilowatts of energy for the building. However, they don’t just enhance new properties, Kate adds. The team looks portfolio-wide to identify ways they can integrate energy efficient solutions into their older building projects.
Thus, these sustainable practices not only benefit the communities around Bulfinch properties, but also serve as a differentiating factor when speaking to prospective tenants.
What Makes A Building ‘Well’?
Building health and wellness goes beyond the physical elements of Bulfinch properties. Kate broke down the many spheres of wellness that play into their portfolio strategy.
The right certifications and energy scores are the bare minimum for their buildings, Kate says. They think of health at every level: from the size of windows, to the amount of indoor lighting, to the air quality in and around a property.
Meaningful health and wellness offerings in the form of programming extend to Bulfinch tenant-employees as well. With the help of HqOS Marketplace partner Wellable, the Bulfinch team is able to drive workplace engagement through wellness activities and challenges. For example, there are challenges to keep everyone active in the summer months or to reach a certain daily step count. Regardless of the task, the goal of these challenges is to bring their building communities together to focus on the importance of health and wellness.
Fully Connected Experiences
The potential for Bulfinch properties to offer a connected and enhanced tenant experience across their portfolio is one of the key reasons they sought to partner with HqO earlier on.
Merging the digital and physical realms of tenant experience is a priority of Bulfinch’s, Kate shares. Without a connected platform, their sustainability measures, wellness initiatives, and service offerings would likely go unnoticed by building occupants.
To wrap up the episode, Kate speaks to the value-add of tenant experience technology: “You may have the vision and mission identified, but if you’re not able to communicate it effectively to your team and to your stakeholders, it’s going to be an uphill battle.”
- Understand CRE’s massive carbon footprint, and the importance of corporate real estate sustainability
- Uncover sustainability’s role in the digital workplace transformation
On Today’s Episode
Chase Garbarino, CEO and Co-Founder at HqO, the only end-to-end operating system for commercial office buildings.
Kate Shoss, Senior Vice President and Director of Marketing at Bulfinch, a third-generation entrepreneurial commercial real estate investment firm specializing in development, acquisition, repositioning and management.