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Tulane School of Architecture (TuSA) is open, post-Hurricane Ida. We are currently operating with remote instruction. In-person instruction will resume on Sept. 27. For more information about Tulane's response and reopening, visit the university's Forward TUgether website. TuSA students should check their emails for important return-to-campus instructions.

Faculty assists city to create 'Child-Friendly New Orleans' plan

NEW ORLEANS — The Mayor’s Office of Youth and Families (OYF) presented the “Goals for a Child-Friendly New Orleans” at the Neighborhood Summit on Saturday, Nov. 9. For the past nine months OYF has been working closely with global design and engineering firm, Arup, PlayBuild and Tulane University School of Architecture on a vision for a child-friendly New Orleans that was generated through a collaborative workshop with New Orleans youth leadership, community representatives, and a range of city agencies and organizations in July.

Casius Pealer, Director of Tulane’s Master of Sustainable Real Estate Development, said, “Over 20 percent of New Orleans residents are under 18 years old, meaning that none of them have a formal vote in our political decisions and planning processes — yet we need those residents to love and enjoy New Orleans as much as the other 80 percent of us do. From a real estate development perspective, Mayor Cantrell’s commitment to a child-friendly New Orleans means that our City is ripe for major long term physical investment, emotional investment, and yes financial investment.”

Children stand to be disproportionately impacted by the decisions made today regarding climate change, transportation, safety, economic opportunity, and public health. However, urban planning has not traditionally prioritized children’s needs. A child-friendly design effort in New Orleans would respond to the needs of the youth, who represent over 25 percent of the city’s population.

The “Goals for a Child-friendly New Orleans” publication includes a comprehensive set of recommendations across four themes: safety, nature and sustainability, health and well-being, and stronger communities. Building upon existing city and non-profit initiatives that are currently underway, “Goals for a Child-Friendly New Orleans” offers a framework for all stakeholders to streamline efforts around a common vision.

“When we design a New Orleans that truly puts children’s interests first, we create a New Orleans that shows love to all her people,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

The project seeks to mobilize city leadership to think beyond playgrounds when it comes to urban design. The “Goals for a Child-Friendly New Orleans” publication highlights opportunities to design and build a network of places and spaces for children that are sensitive to their physical development and everyday needs.

To read more about the Neighborhood Summit, click here.

Tulane launches nation’s first MBA/Sustainable Real Estate Development degree program

The A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University has announced a partnership with the Tulane University School of Architecture to meet the increasing demand for business professionals equipped with the tools for a career in real estate development. The MBA/MSRED will offer students an unrivaled preparation with a broad foundation in business disciplines as well as specialized knowledge from the country’s only master’s degree program in Sustainable Real Estate Development.

“With the exponential growth of the real estate market, prospective real estate professionals must combine business expertise with an understanding of the social and environmental costs of development,” says Ira Solomon, dean of the Freeman School. “The MBA/MSRED program builds upon the rigorous core of the Freeman School’s nationally ranked MBA program to create a comprehensive and holistic approach to sustainable development.”

In conjunction with Tulane’s School of Architecture, the program awards students an MBA and a master’s degree in Sustainable Real Estate Development.  Through the real-world application of theory to current real estate development projects, graduates will be prepared for the rapidly evolving challenges facing the industry. Students will be equipped to successfully manage in all areas of real estate development – finance, analytics, design, management and consulting – with both the qualitative and quantitative skills needed to make informed business decisions.

“We are disrupting how real estate has been taught to drive change in the educational landscape of this field,” says Casius Pealer, director of Sustainable Real Estate Development and Shane Professor of Practice at the Tulane School of Architecture. “We want students to analyze the implications of technology, environmental changes and urbanization to better understand how political, ecological and cultural forces impact real estate development. By creating an interdisciplinary program, our alumni can anticipate the long term social and financial effects of development.”

The MBA/MSRED is an accelerated two-year, full-time program delivered during the weekday from the historic Tulane University campus in Uptown New Orleans as well as the Freeman School’s new facility in vibrant downtown. Students will benefit from Freeman’s small cohorts, active learning environment and direct engagement with industry leaders. Freeman is also offering new real estate specializations in its full-time and Professional MBA programs, as well as in its 10-month Master of Management program.

“New Orleans is an exceptional place to study real estate development because of its storied history, ongoing redevelopment and rapid growth,” says Matt Schwartz, co-chief executive officer of The Domain Companies.  “Our rich architectural history and dedication to preservation blends with the innovative development strategies currently driving the reinvestment in and revitalization of the city, making New Orleans an exceptional incubator for learning.”

Faculty to participate in study examining if clearing blight lowers teen violence in New Orleans

Two Tulane School of Architecture faculty members, Richard Campanella and Casius Pealer, will contribute to a new Tulane University research project studying whether maintaining vacant lots and fixing up blighted properties in high-crime areas reduces incidents of youth and family violence. The National Institutes of Health awarded Tulane a $2.3 million grant to test the theory in New Orleans.

Campanella, a geographer in the School of Architecture, will conduct GIS (Geographic Information Systems) analyses on the spatial relationships between blight in the built environment and violence in the social environment, and how they might change when blight is remediated.

Pealer, an attorney and director of the school’s Sustainable Real Estate Development program, will provide advice on individual property improvements and analysis of the potential impacts of this remediation work on neighborhood development and gentrification.

Read more on the project here.

Tulane partners with city of New Orleans to help buildings save energy, money

Buildings in the United States consume approximately 40 percent of the country’s energy, and an average of 30 percent of energy in commercial buildings is wasted, according to the city of New Orleans’ Office of Resilience and Sustainability (ORS).

As part of a citywide effort to address this issue and reduce energy use, ORS partnered with the Tulane School of Architecture to present the Tulane Energy Benchmarking Symposium on Wednesday, March 14. The symposium was supported by the City Energy Project, a national initiative to improve the energy efficiency of buildings in 20 major American cities.

The daylong symposium for local commercial and multifamily building owners and managers highlighted best practices, tools and resources for energy benchmarking and increasing efficiency.

Energy benchmarking, the regular monitoring and measuring of a building’s energy and water use, revolves around the concept of “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

By tracking energy and water consumption, building managers can evaluate how a building performs over time as compared to similar structures. The data can also be used to spot problems with climate control or lighting systems and identify areas for improvement.

“Tulane has tracked the energy use of its properties for several years, and the School of Architecture’s Master of Sustainable Real Estate Development (MSRED) program incorporates specialized electives that emphasize the use of energy data to finance capital improvements,” said symposium coordinator and MSRED Director Casius Pealer. “Tulane graduates are well-suited to be a resource for the city of New Orleans and for individual commercial property owners as they seek to improve building performance while generating a return on investment.”

The event brought together experts from urban areas across the country to discuss how energy benchmarking activities and policies have supported cost savings, workforce development and economic activity in their cities.

MSRED graduate students were on hand to help attendees create accounts in Portfolio Manager, an online tool developed by the federal government to enable building owners to measure and track energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in commercial buildings. This platform is the basis for the city’s recently launched Downtown NOLA Energy Challenge, a competition to reduce energy usage among commercial buildings in downtown New Orleans.


If governments want to respond to climate change in a way that protects those who have the least, public housing is their first test. The early results are not good.

Finding out what happens to people who have been forced out of public housing by natural disasters isn't straightforward. Neither the Department of Housing and Urban Development nor the Federal Emergency Management Agency tracks the number of public housing units destroyed each year by natural disasters. Nor does the housing agency track how many of those units get replaced.

But interviews with housing authority directors and advocates around the country show a clear pattern: When public housing is damaged or destroyed by a hurricane or storm, the people forced to leave that housing seldom get to return.

Getting vouchers for private housing means former residents of public housing typically need to pay more. They pose another problem: Vouchers often leave people at even greater risk from climate change, by forcing them to live in the areas most exposed to extreme weather. For the federal government, it's cheaper that way.

The amount that the Department of Housing and Urban Development will pay private landlords for accepting tenants with vouchers is set by a formula that can be as low as the 36th percentile of area rents. Combined with the stigma attached to tenants with vouchers, few landlords are willing to accept them.

"If we have a rental payment standard that's low, then people can only live in the cheapest areas of town," Casius Pealer, a New Orleans housing lawyer and professor at the Tulane School of Architecture, told me. And as flooding gets worse, the cheapest areas of town will increasingly be the wettest.

Bloomberg Article Here


It is often said that “what gets measured is what gets done.” Surely it’s good to talk seriously about a triple-bottom line, but if there’s no useful metric for measuring those other goals, then everything remains subject only to the traditional bottom line.

LEED certification and other green building rating systems were designed to create a useful metric that could generate an environmental bottom line, for individual projects and across a portfolio. In that respect, these rating systems have undeniably transformed the real estate market and set meaningful benchmarks against which the real estate industry can measure improvements. These green building benchmarks are intentionally holistic and prioritize design and construction over ongoing operations.

Energy benchmarking is a data-driven process by which building owners can measure and assess the performance of individual buildings over time. Although this process is valuable purely as an internal research effort, it is exponentially more valuable when building owners aggregate and share this data. As a result, many owners are voluntarily benchmarking their own buildings, and local jurisdictions are increasingly requiring both benchmarking and public disclosure.

According to the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), as of August 2014 at least ten major cities and two states had energy benchmarking and disclosure laws in place that apply to privately-owned commercial properties, usually above a certain size (10,000-50,000sf). As one example, in Year 2 of Philadelphia’s energy benchmarking and disclosure program, 1,900 buildings representing 270 million square feet of commercial space and 25% of the City’s total building stock provided energy data.

It is critical for MSRED graduates to understand the basics of real estate development; but it is also critical that they are successful over time. Energy data collection and benchmarking is a skill that has a measurable bottom line and yet is also not well-understood by many developers or building owners today. Real estate professionals who do understand energy benchmarking and its potential to help finance capital investments will be much in demand nationwide for years to come.

This MSRED Update has other information about our current program and the people making it happen. Additionally, we are launching a Real Estate Summer Minor Institute for Tulane undergraduates. I encourage you to read about these and other successes, and see how MSRED students are continually improving their bottom lines.

MSRED Program Update - Spring 2015

Q&A with MSRED Director Casius Pealer Featured in New Orleans City Business

New Orleans CityBusiness Real Estate reporter, Robin Shannon, sat down with Tulane MSRED Director Casius Pealer for the publication's weekly Q&A section this week. They discussed the MSRED program and skills these graduates bring to their jobs after graduation, as well as New Orleans real estate generally. Director Pealer said the MSRED program will train the next generation of architects and developers entering a real estate industry where insight into building performance and environmental impacts are becoming more prevalent.

This article was published in both the online (subscription-only) and September 26 print editions. See the PDF copy attached above.


MSRED Program Visits Washington, DC and Philadelphia

This past week, 13 students in Tulane’s MSRED program visited Washington, DC and Philadelphia as part of the annual Field Study course that marks the end of the summer session. Our class visited a number of diverse projects and organizations, and hosted two public receptions: one with Georgetown University’s master’s program in Regional and Urban Planning, and another with the Design Advocacy Group (DAG) in Philadelphia.

Major topics of discussion on this trip focused on large-scale waterfront redevelopment, transit-oriented development, maintaining affordable housing options for existing residents, commercial green leasing, energy benchmarking, and other sustainable practices that add long term value to properties and to communities.

These experiences and contacts will continue to inform our students’ research and discussions over the course of the next two semesters. The MSRED program is a yearlong graduate degree that starts in the summer and ends in the Spring concurrent with courses in the Architecture and Master of Preservation Studies programs.

Thank you to our hosts below:

Washington, DC

American Architectural Foundation (AAF)

Capital One Bank

General Services Administration (GSA)

DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)

DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA)

DC Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development (DMPED)

DC Office of Planning

District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA)

Enterprise Community Partners


Georgetown Business Improvement District

Georgetown University School of Professional Studies

Institute for Market Transformation (IMT)

JBG Companies


U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)


Community Design Collaborative

Design Advocacy Group (DAG)

Kieran Timberlake

Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics

Mayor’s Office of Sustainability

Navy Yard

Pennrose Development

Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC)

The Reinvestment Fund (TRF)

University of Pennsylvania, Facilities and Real Estate Services

Village of Arts and Humanities

Please join us in welcoming the MSRED Class of 2015!

The MSRED Class of 2015 arrived on campus earlier this month to start the summer session. Individual bios for this year’s students are available here as a downloadable file. The group includes two students from New Orleans, eight from Louisiana, and six others from California, Massachusetts, and cities in between. Five of our students have an economics or business degree, including two who come to the program with an MBA. Five other students have architecture, landscape or environmental design degrees, and the class as a whole has significant professional real estate experience in the private, nonprofit and public sectors. One student is a licensed Realtor, another is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, and one even runs her own specialty cookie business.

Casius Pealer Appointed as Director of the Master of Sustainable Real Estate Development Program (MSRED)

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Casius Pealer, Esq., Assoc. AIA, LEED AP as a Professor of Practice and Director of the Master of Sustainable Real Estate Development program at the Tulane School of Architecture. Professor Pealer will guide the program as it enters its fourth year, following Christopher Calott, AIA who recently accepted a tenured position in architecture and urbanism at UC Berkeley. Professor Pealer is a Tulane alumnus who helped create the MSRED program; he brings nationally recognized talent and skills in multiple disciplines and a commitment to teaching and practice that will continue to strengthen this unique program.

Kenneth Schwartz, FAIA
Favrot Professor and Dean


CASIUS PEALER, ESQ., ASSOC. AIA, LEED AP has over 17 years of diverse experience in community and economic development with a dual background in architecture and law. He spent four years in Washington, DC as a real estate attorney and will continue to work part time as Of Counsel in the New Orleans office of Coats | Rose in their Real Estate and Affordable Housing sections.

Pealer is a leading national expert in green and sustainable innovations as they apply to residential properties. As the first Director of Affordable Housing at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Pealer spearheaded USGBC’s programs in that sector through professional education and legislative policy initiatives. Prior to working with USGBC, he was Assistant General Counsel for Real Estate at the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA), where he helped DCHA implement local green building and sustainability requirements and served on the DC Mayor’s Green Building Advisory Council. Pealer has actively combined education and practice throughout his career, teaching as adjunct faculty at Howard University before joining the Tulane faculty as an adjunct lecturer in 2011. His writing on housing and development issues has been published widely, including in the ABA Journal on Affordable Housing and Community Development Law, Architectural Record, and Affordable Housing Finance Magazine where he was a regular contributor on green building issues.

Pealer is active on numerous professional boards and community groups, including serving as 2009-2010 President of the Association for Community Design (ACD) and 2011 Chair of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) national housing committee. He is also on the local Host Committee for the 2014 USGBC Greenbuild Expo, to be held in New Orleans in October.

In accepting the position of Director for the MSRED program, Pealer believes that “graduates of Tulane’s MSRED program should expect to work on economically and environmentally sustainable projects that still have meaningful impact in a particular place and time.” Pealer is uniquely qualified to combine thinking about individual project finance and design with larger policy and planning issues. He emphasizes that “Tulane’s MSRED program has a national reach, but is an especially important addition to an increasingly innovative real estate and design industry in New Orleans and across the Gulf South.”

Pealer is a LEED Accredited Professional and is licensed to practice law in New York State and the District of Columbia. He received a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Architecture from Tulane University, and a J.D. cum laude from the University of Michigan.