Degree: Master of Real Estate
College: Texas A&M University, Mays Business School
Long-term career goal: Rejuvenate communities through sustainable development
Most admired professional: Scott Muldavin, executive director of the Green Building Finance Consortium
When Eric Bishop-Berry thinks about development, he has the environment in mind. He is one of a new breed of students entering the commercial real estate field with sophisticated and passionate ideas about sustainable development. He will graduate in December with a master's degree in real estate from Texas A&M University.
Long before real estate piqued his interest, Bishop-Berry learned to protect the environment. On Earth Day each year, he and his parents picked up trash in their rural New Hampshire community.
While pursuing a career in environmental engineering at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, a professor's discussion of mixed-use and sustainable development inspired Bishop-Berry to explore a future in real estate.
“I remember him showing different layouts of residential communities and the typical cookie-cutter design of putting houses around open space, and a cluster of green space to promote quality of life. That showed me the impact that developers can have. When we build something, it really changes the way that we live.”
His father, Stuart Bishop, an asset manager for real estate investment trust Alexandria Real Estate Equities, showed him the opportunities available in real estate. Bishop-Berry decided to study at the Mays Business School at Texas A&M, which offers an intensive finance curriculum in a program covering real estate law, valuation, development and investments.
Traveling from New Hampshire to Texas proved a culture shock, but Bishop-Berry says it helped him build contacts.
While he doesn't have a permanent job lined up, his summer internship at Cushman & Wakefield in Boston will help prepare him for his career. He will work with a brokerage team specializing in the office and laboratory market, learning about leasing deals and market analysis.
“It seems brokerage is a good way to get into development because you can master a market,” says Bishop-Berry.
The grad student hopes to eventually develop projects that rejuvenate communities and improve the environment. For example, he wants to transform neglected brownfield sites to usable properties.
“You see these communities needing an economic stimulus and developers can come in and create a community. It can be very powerful,” says Bishop-Berry, who envisions pedestrian-friendly communities where people live, work and shop without a lot of commuting.
In particular, he admires the redevelopment of the Naval Air Station in Glenview north of Chicago after it was closed in 1995. The mixed-use redevelopment has a pedestrian-oriented design.
Bishop-Berry earlier analyzed traffic counts near Plymouth High School for a class project to recommend safe walking and biking routes. He also computed water quality at a potential project site.
The firms he idealizes make life easier for a community. They generate jobs in locations that minimize commute times and create a less stressful environment, Bishop-Berry emphasizes.
“If I was building a development that I knew in 10 years would adversely affect the environment, I wouldn't do it.”