Keara Fanning‘s passion for the environment has evolved since she started chasing butterflies and dreaming of swimming with beluga whales. JLL’s Midwest Sustainability Practice Lead found her way into the world of wellness in the workplace, where sustainability can go a long way toward boosting employee satisfaction.
“Environmental sustainability and energy efficiency are now the expectation for our clients, with trends moving toward health and well-being,” Keara says. “We’re making sure the spaces we design and occupy not only make healthier and happier employees but also allow them to be more productive.” Enter the Well Building Standard, a type of “nutritional label” for a space that Keara and team are pursuing for a large corporate client. Let’s dive in.
Typical day: I handle all sustainability projects for the Midwest, including LEED certification, WELL Building Standard, energy retrofits and carbon reporting. We work on both new construction and existing buildings and frequently partner with other JLL business lines from project management to property management to our portfolio energy managers on corporate accounts.
Well, what’s a WELL Building anyways? WELL has overlaps with LEED, including indoor air quality and lighting, but lighting for WELL measures “melanopic lux,” which accounts for different colors in light. For example, if you sit in blue light all day, it throws off your circadian rhythm. WELL also accounts for an office’s fitness opportunities and the nutritional content, particularly sugar, of its available food and drinks (meaning no larger than an 8 oz. Pepsi). WELL sends an assessor once the project is occupied to test light, air and water quality.
Keara, Compost Queen: I’m really proud of working on our composting program at JLL’s headquarters in Aon Center. It’s such a meaningful way for our firm to walk the walk, upping our sustainability commitment in our own space. I juggled many different groups throughout the process, from millwork with the construction team to recycling education with facilities and property management, and the results and employee adoption are inspiring.
Key projects: In addition to pursuing LEED certification at JLL’s Des Moines headquarters, a Principal Financial Group property and the tallest building in Iowa, I just completed a LEED Platinum certification for Zurich North America’s Schaumburg headquarters. Some of the property’s sustainable features include combined heat and power on-site with natural gas, greatly reducing energy consumption, as well as nearly an acre of green roofs! More on Zurich’s certification here and the full project profile here.
Hometown: Inverness, Illinois, known only for its golf course. My dad is a huge golfer, so it was a requirement that we all golfed. I always enjoyed golfing as it was a great way for me to pretend that I’m athletic.
School: University of Illinois, with a B.S. in Integrative Biology and an M.S. in Bioenergy. After doing undergraduate research in a climate change lab, I got really into sustainability and its impact on the environment. I wanted to apply those concepts in a corporate setting with broad-reaching impact.
First job: I always loved science, the environment and animals. I worked at Lincoln Park Zoo one summer during college as a conservation instructor. My science lessons were unsuccessful, so the kids and I usually just built forts and pretended to be animals.
First real estate job: I fell into the industry because my mom is CFO at Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. I connected well with the company’s sustainability director, who had a science background and a Ph.D. in ecology, and ended up working there as a sustainability consultant. We did all new construction, huge projects, like the 2017 World Expo in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Job in another life: Pro golfer, that’s the ultimate career. I’d be Rory McIlroy. Or I’d have my own show on the food network – Ina Garten is my idol. Interestingly enough, the first meal I cooked my now-fiancé was Ina’s famous Engagement Chicken!
Hobbies: In addition to golf and cooking, I love to sing (karaoke, please) and dance, though I don’t do either of them well. I’m a former Irish dancer and dance once a year at a bar on St. Patrick’s Day. I’m also on the junior board of Alliance for the Great Lakes.
On my Spotify playlist: Fleetwood Mac. When I saw them perform at the United Center, the lady next to me was sobbing during “Landslide.” Ok, maybe I was too.
On my plate: Pizza and pasta from Balena in Lincoln Park. Ever since studying in Florence I can’t seem to kick my carb habit.
Dream dinner party: Ina Garten (clearly), Princess Diana (we have the same birthday), Cleopatra, Jackie Kennedy, Anderson Cooper and my grandparents.
Bucket list: Run a marathon, testify before Congress, patent something, get a hole-in-one and swim with a beluga whale.
Nobody knows: I used to make my family do fire drills – before Ben Stiller made it mainstream in “The Royal Tenebaums.” I’ve also been labeled a “bag lady” due to my disdain for plastic bags. Space camp was always my dream and I might look into going.