In urban areas, biodiversity has decreased as green space is developed, the population increases, and the climate warms. Biodiversity provides ecosystem services that are vital for the real estate industry, including stormwater management, urban heat island reduction, air quality improvement, greenhouse gas sequestration, plant pollination, and recreation. Degrading these services negatively affects long term real estate value.
However, real estate can play a role in mitigating the decline in urban biodiversity through new design strategies and integrating buildings into the larger ecosystem. As pollinators of over 100 fruit and vegetable crops in the United States, bees are essential, so building owners in Los Angeles and around the country are installing beehives to improve the local bee population and support pollination. Real estate can also benefit directly by connecting tenants with the environment, sharing honey with tenants, and strengthening community relations.
Since 2014, Jessica Loeper has served as the Director of Sustainability for CommonWealth Partners, a privately-owned real estate investment, development, and management organization, which achieved GRESB Sector Leader in the Office category in 2020. She is instrumental in working with property teams at each property to elevate sustainability efforts of their core business, enabling them to achieve their ESG goals and position them to an industry leader in sustainability including the establishment of rooftop beehives. To date, the portfolio has installed 15 hives across 7 properties. Jessica is also the Vice President at Verdani Partners, providing strategic guidance to many real estate portfolios in advancing their performance. She holds a master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from UC Irvine. She is an active member of the USGBC, NorCal Chapter and Co-Chair for the Impact Committee.
Shelby Schulman is an agriculture and food enthusiast. She studied Environmental Science and Anthropology at the University of North Carolina (go Tar Heels!). Her introduction to bees came about when she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guinea, West Africa. She transitioned her small village of 600 away from traditional towards a more modern, sustainable and safe beekeeping practice. Shelby has worked with Alvéole since 2019 - from opening their first US city and now, managing the Alvéole operations across the United States.
Vaishali Sampat joined Kilroy in November 2018 as Manager of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Prior to her transition she was the Property Manager of the West LA/ Santa Monica Portfolio. At Kilroy, Vaishali is responsible for overseeing LEED certifications and for development projects, assisting with Fitwel benchmarking and certifications, supply chain analysis, assisting with internal and external reporting and supporting various sustainability and CSR initiatives. She is LEED AP: EBOM accredited and a Fitwel Ambassador.
Peggy Nguyen is a City of Los Angeles environmental scientist and a member of the City of LA Sanitation and Environment (LASAN) Biodiversity Team. She has been working with CIty engineers to create a climate resilience planning and design tool based on best practices for adapting to various climate risks, and business processes supportive of achieving climate resilience and environmental justice goals. She is also developing an ecological landscaping tool that can provide users with ecological native plant lists for different areas of the City. She envisions a leafy, well-vegetated, green and healthy City that naturally recycles and purifies much of its air and water and where all living things thrive in a variety of native ecosystems throughout the built environment. In addition to having experience restoring natural landscapes to support native pollinators that require no irrigation beyond establishment, Peggy has also been a proud owner of a honeybee box and has grown a garden full of wildflowers to support her honeybees in their honey-making. Honey is her sweetener and topping of choice on desserts, and in marinades, and dressings. Her favorite pollinators are Anna's hummingbirds, the endangered El Segundo Blue butterfly, honeybees, and the California buckeye butterfly and its fuzzy caterpillar form. She is grateful to architects, property and real estate managers, gardeners, and landscapers for all of the beautiful native flowering plants in our urban environment. Peggy will share information about the City's biodiversity conservation efforts, and City compost, mulch, and environmentally-friendly urban design resources available to help real estate land managers to realize their low-cost, and high social- and environmental- benefit landscaping goals.
Carmen is the Beekeeping Team Manager for Alvéole's Southern California operations. Originally from North Carolina, she studied Environmental Science and Biology at UNC Chapel Hill before going on to pursue a career in wildlife ecology. After working in the conservation field for several years, Carmen became aware of a disconnect between the scientific community and the general public, which drove her to search for ways to bridge that gap. Alvéole's mission of reconnecting people with nature is what drew Carmen into the world of beekeeping, and she never looked back. She has now been with the company for two years, tending to bees all over Southern California and relishing the inspiration and connection they create.