2021 Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Caption: Zeller Logo

Zeller received the 2021 Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Award from CRE Insight Journal. The award was created to recognize a real estate company that has displayed excellence in fostering DEI within their organization.

Headquartered in Chicago, at the time of winning the award, Zeller owned and operated a growing portfolio of nearly 10.2 million square feet, with assets in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. Zeller exhibited a strong commitment to DEI, as exemplified through its Zeller Diversity and Inclusion Committee (ZDIC), which has woven diversity and inclusion into the company’s DNA.


Founded in 2020, the ZDIC was created to foster a culture of mutual respect and to attract, retain, and promote team members from all backgrounds, perspectives, and abilities.

“At Zeller, we have a role to play in building communities that protect, serve, and support all citizens equally. Our employees leaned in and volunteered to create the Zeller Diversity and Inclusion Committee in July of 2020,” said Bradley Borowic, MSRE, ZDIC Co-Chair. “The ZDIC was formed on a grass roots level with support and encouragement from our company’s senior leadership.”

ZDIC Structure

“The ZDIC consists of an overall committee with support from senior leadership,” explained Devin Simon, RPA, BOMI-HP, ZDIC Co-Chair. “There are two co-chairs with 20 to 23 ambassadors that help support all of our initiatives. The ambassadors are grouped into five subcommittees: Career Elevation, CRE industry Outreach, Education and Awareness, Strengthen Communities, and Enriching the Zeller Experience.”

  • Career Elevation – The primary goal of the Career Elevation subcommittee was to develop mentorship and recruitment programs to attract, engage, hire, and retain a diverse and inclusive talent pool.
  • Education & Awareness – The Education & Awareness subcommittee sought to make a positive impact through collaborative and multidisciplinary research prioritizing areas of great societal need.
  • CRE Industry Outreach –This subcommittee was tasked with identifying and engaging in opportunities in the commercial real estate industry where Zeller could positively impact society and promote equity in the real estate industry. The members of this subcommittee engaged with several real estate industry organizations such as the Building Owners and Managers Association, Commercial Real Estate Women, Institute of Real Estate Management, and other organizations to help positively impact the industry.
  • Strengthen Communities – The Strengthen Communities subcommittee focused on fostering a culture of civic engagement and increasing economic impact through charitable activities, volunteerism, and creating strategic partnerships, and vendor relationships.
  • Enrich the Zeller Experience – This subcommittee promoted engagement among Zeller’s inclusive cultures and perspectives. Chaired by Zeller’s General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer, its members served as chairs of the other subcommittees.

ZDIC Impact

In 2021, the ZDIC worked with DEI consultants to ingrain diversity and inclusion throughout the company. They worked with the Ollie Group to help define, strategize, and execute the goals of each subcommittee. ZDIC’s accomplishments in 2021 included:

  • Donated $10,000 each to 15 different charitable organizations across seven cities to support social justice efforts.
  • Hosted four lunch and learn programs:
    • “35 Dumb Things Well-Intended People Say” with Dr. Maura Cullen
    • “Codeswitching: Navigating the Dynamics of Workplace Norms” with Dr. Courtney L. McCluney
    • “You Don’t Look Like a Lawyer” with Tsedale M, Melake, Ph.D.
    • “Taking Control of Your Mental Health” with Fabiana Souze Araujo, Ph.D.
  • Created a portal to provide DEI resources to Zeller employees and regularly posted relevant and timely DEI resources to various Zeller social media pages.
  • Established the Zeller Responsible and Diverse Supplier Program, which provided access for procurement opportunities in an equitable and competitive environment and encouraged Zeller employees to proactively seek services from qualified businesses owned by minorities, women, differently abled persons, and veterans.

2021 Excellence in Environmental Sustainability
Palisades Office Park

Palisades Office Park, managed by Atlanta Property Group (APG), received the 2021 Excellence in Environmental Sustainability Award from CRE Insight Journal. The award was created to recognize a building or building complex that had undertaken significant environmental sustainability efforts and/or had achieved long-term success in environmental sustainability.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, APG was formed in 2003 to specialize in operating well-located, management-intensive, multi-tenant office buildings. At the time of winning the award, APG owned or operated 17 assets totaling 3.4 million square feet across Georgia and Florida. Additionally, APG had consistently demonstrated excellence in environmental sustainability, having achieved both high ENERGY STAR scores and certifications and LEED certifications across their portfolio.

Invest and Improve

Located in Sandy Springs, Georgia, and comprised of four multi-tenant LEED Gold certified office buildings, the Palisades Office Park complex totaled 639,000 square feet. The primary goal of APG’s sustainable investments at Palisade Office Park was to develop a premier office location with a low carbon footprint along Atlanta’s Central Perimeter submarket. Palisades A, B, C, and D have seen enormous capital investments and significant environmental improvements during the years leading up to receiving the CRE Insight Journal Excellence in Environmental Sustainability Award.

Prior to winning the award, APG upgraded the corridors, lobbies, and exterior spaces in all four buildings through installations of efficient interior LED lighting, biophilic features and finishes, healthier interior design, water-efficient perennial landscapes, and night-sky friendly LED sight lighting. Indoor air quality and green cleaning were another major focus at Palisades Office Park. APG also worked with janitorial vendor Allied International to implement a high-performance green cleaning program to reduce chemical, biological, and particles and improve indoor air quality.

“Years ago, APG senior leadership repositioned Palisades Office Park to become the leader in sustainability goals and initiatives in our market,” says Joe Crawford, Senior Property Manager with APG.

Starting in 2018, APG implemented numerous improvements to the office park. By the end of 2021, all four buildings utilized a fresh air system to cool the building in lieu of running the chiller, and a central loop was installed to connect chilled water at buildings A, B, and C to enable running two chillers rather than three across the buildings. In 2021, Building D installed a Trane Agility Magnetic Bearing Water-Cooled Chiller, which exceeded ASHRAE 90.1-2016 IPLV requirements by more than 40 percent with a 25 percent lower refrigerant charge. At the time, Palisades Office Park was one of less than a dozen buildings utilizing this advanced technology in the United States.

Future Projects

In 2021, Palisades Office Park was ENERGY STAR and LEED certified, having achieved LEED Gold certification at all four buildings in 2018 and a 93 ENERGY STAR score in 2020 for the Palisades D building.

In response to winning the award, the Palisades Office Park and APG property management team said they planned to continue their commitment to performance, efficiency, and sustainability in the future. Specifically, the APG team said they intend to continue their commitment to renewable energy use through installation of a 1-Megawatt solar array, scheduled to be completed in 2022. APG also planned to similarly address water consumption through perennial landscaping and rainwater capturing, with goals of utilizing emerging technology to have an even more restorative water program. Other planned improvements for 2022 included:

  • Converting the entire property to DDC controls, including new Powered Induction Unit & Variable Air Volume boxes in Palisades A, B and C
  • A complete LED lighting retrofit
  • New fanwalls for the air handlers at Palisades A, B and C
  • Implementing a low static air filtration system
  • CO2 based ventilation adjustments
  • Staged chilled water flow with Variable Frequency Drives on pumps
  • Installation of a windwall wind generation system
  • Planting on-site fruit trees
  • Improving the already robust recycling program, currently Palisades recycles 58.6-percent of total waste