Elaina's Sustainability Fund: Supporting innovation and wellness to honor one person's legacy.

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Author: Julie L. Scott
Date: May-June 2021
From: Journal of Property Management(Vol. 86, Issue 3)
Publisher: Institute of Real Estate Management
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,332 words
Lexile Measure: 1440L

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Elaina Tattersdale believed that one person could make a difference. She dreamed of creating a better world by working in sustainability to improve the impact that buildings have on our environment. Sadly Elaina was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and passed away on June 5, 2019, at just 35 years old.

Her parents--2020 IREM President Cheryl Gray CPM, and Rick Gray, CPM--set aside funds for special treatment, but the cancer acted quickly. "It was important for us to honor her and create something that had meaning to her," Cheryl said.

Cheryl met with the IREM Foundation Executive Committee and shared her idea. The Gray family would donate $50,000 to seed a fund that would support sustainability in Elaina's name. There were very few stipulations: The name of the fund should be simple. The funds would support innovation or adoption of sustainability or wellness initiatives in the real estate industry. Applicants should not be limited to just members, or even real estate managers, since Elaina believed that anyone could make a difference. The fund should live on in perpetuity. The Foundation would define the rest.

The Executive Committee eagerly and emotionally accepted the proposal, honored to be entrusted with Elaina's legacy and the creation of a meaningful program that betters the impact of commercial real estate.

Starting from scratch

The Foundation was new to supporting sustainability, but IREM had been operating its own Certified Sustainable Property program since 2015 and had a roster of experts that the Foundation was able to leverage. A task force of sustainability experts and Foundation board members was created to define the parameters of this new program.

"A significant challenge was to establish a grant program that would both encourage adoption as well as innovation," says Randy Woodbury, CPM, chair of Elaina's Sustainability Task Force. "Innovation can be expensive, so it's often the larger, well-resourced companies that are able to innovate. Yet, the intent of the program is really to help get projects off the ground that might...

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