With 325 million-square-feet of commercial space, 65 million square-feet under development, and more than 750 properties around the world, Brookfield Properties has become one of the largest alternative asset managers on the planet. The company’s expansive portfolio includes office buildings, retail spaces, multifamily housing, hospitality spaces, logistics facilities, and mixed-use properties including recognizable high rises that dot major metro skylines.
But Brookfield isn’t content simply growing, expanding, and increasing revenue. The company is harnessing real estate’s unique power to build a better world—one that benefits individuals, businesses, and communities alike.
As senior vice president of operations, Michael Daschle leads environmental, social, and governance (ESG) activities for the company’s New York City office portfolio. He is also Brookfield’s director of energy and sustainability and lead for renewable energy procurement across the entire US and cochair of a global renewable energy advisory committee.
Daschle came to Brookfield in 2018 after completing an MBA in real estate at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and working for another prominent New York City company, Tishman Speyer. At Brookfield, he started to look into optimizing how the company powers its buildings, manages its waste, and mitigates the negative impact of its properties.
“I started to specialize first on the E side of ESG, but we always had a plan to move more strongly into the social and governance areas as well,” he says. Over the past 18 months, the ESG team has also developed a comprehensive plan to help ensure Brookfield supports its communities, promotes employee well-being, and adheres to strict ethical standards.
In the past 25 years, Brookfield’s sister company, Brookfield Renewable, has installed enough green power assets to power all of London and aims to double what is already the largest private renewable power business before the end of 2030. The availability of so much renewable energy will help with Brookfield Properties meeting its commitment to achieve a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on its way to achieving net-zero carbon status by 2050.
“Michael is an innovative individual whose vision is one of the key reasons why Brookfield Properties’ One Manhattan West is now powered by 100 percent renewable energy,” says Stephen Gallagher, chief commercial officer of Brookfield Renewable US. “With his leadership, Brookfield Properties is well situated to achieve its carbon neutral goals, and we look forward to our continued partnership.”
It’s a lofty goal, but Daschle isn’t one to back down from a challenge. The Colorado native and nephew of a prominent senator from South Dakota enrolled in the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he studied philosophy and environmental engineering.
In his free time, Daschle ascended tall peaks with other cadets as the head of his mountaineering team. When it came time to select a military branch, he chose Army Aviation. As an army captain, Daschle flew Chinook helicopters during deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and taught Unmanned Aircraft Systems as a company commander.
When he transitioned out of the military, Daschle found new purpose in business development and asset management at large New York firms. In these roles, he was able to advocate for environmentally sound policies and affect some level of change. Now at Brookfield, Daschle has the chance to do much more.
“Brookfield properties has a massive portfolio of properties and has the unique ability to lead by example and influence others in what we do,” he explains. “We see ESG as a way to distinguish ourselves, do something good, and create long-term growth all at the same time.”
This approach is designed to address the interests of all Brookfield stakeholders including employees, tenants, business partners, residents, and communities. “We are creating spaces where people want to work, live, and play,” Daschle says. “Communities want Brookfield in their neighborhood because we do things that support people and provide value.”
As a fully integrated developer, Brookfield can harness the power of multidisciplinary teams to deliver unique spaces that anchor and elevate their surroundings.
One such property is 660 Fifth Avenue. The prestigious Manhattan address is becoming the Big Apple’s most desirable workspace thanks to a $400 million redevelopment of the 39-story office building with 1.2 million square-feet of commercial space. The plan boasts impressive design features and sustainable elements working in concert. Single-pane glass units spanning 11 feet by 19 feet will grace the façade, and the building hosts exclusive outdoor terraces, dramatic atriums, and sprawling interiors.
Seventy-five percent of construction waste will be recycled while the building will achieve a 40 percent reduction in water use. Additionally, teams are planning for LEED Gold V4 certification. Now, all core Brookfield developments are built to at least LEED Gold standards.
Efforts to enhance social and governance initiatives complement these environmental achievements. Brookfield is investing in diversity, promoting wellness, and empowering its employees. Leaders are now developing more objective criteria for each job description and tracking the ethnicity of candidates.
Half of Brookfield’s new hires and 41 of all promoted employees in 2021 were women. At least 62 nationalities and 32 spoken languages are represented in the workforce, which is 48 percent non-white.
The company also offers six employee engagement groups and recently launched Brookfield Cares, an official social responsibility program that drives philanthropic activities and gives employees the chance to volunteer.
Additionally, Brookfield is making strides when it comes to governance. Daschle and his counterparts have implemented antibribery policies, codes of conduct, data protection and cybersecurity programs, and business practices that eliminate discrimination, hold partners accountable, and protect human rights.
These steps, when taken together, yield dramatic results. Brookfield has 27 properties in New York; 28 in Washington, DC; 2 in Pittsburgh; 2 in Chicago; 1 in Nashville, Tennessee; 10 in Houston; 5 in Denver; 1 in Seattle; and 14 in California (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Jose), with many more in active development. With an ESG blueprint in place, Brookfield can now build upon a solid foundation.