One of Hal Fetner’s favorite colors is green. President and CEO of Durst Fetner Residential, a real estate development and management company, Fetner ’83 has been instrumental in promoting sustainability and “green” initiatives in the buildings his firm constructs and manages.
He has been interested in building green for more than a decade, long before such concepts were in vogue. “Even before green construction started to become affordable, I jumped at the opportunity to introduce sustainability in our buildings,” he said. “We decided to make a strong effort to make sure everything we built had some component of sustainability.”
One of his company’s buildings, The Epic, achieved Gold LEED certified status without what Fetner calls “all the bells and whistles” that can be included in an LEED structure. The LEED certification system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, is a program for rating the design, construction, and operation of green buildings. The graduate of the Whitman School of Management, who earned a juris doctor degree from New York Law School, is also enthusiastic about all things Orange—and sees many connections between what his company is doing and the green initiatives at Syracuse University.
“We care about social responsibility and setting a good example,” said Fetner. “The real important issue today is reducing your carbon footprint. I admire SU for what it has done to build in a sustainable manner, such as Ernie Davis Hall and the Center of Excellence building. It’s fantastic.”
He and his wife, Nina, have established The Fetner Sustainability Series, which brings guest speakers to campus, and The Fetner Prize in Sustainable Enterprise. The award is given to the finalist entry in the Whitman School’s Panasci Business Plan Competition which has the greatest potential for positive impact on society and the natural environment, and best recognizes the interconnectedness of economic, environmental, and social considerations.
The Fetners have also established the Sidney I. Fetner Scholarship at their synagogue for those who cannot afford a Jewish education. Active in numerous civic, professional and philanthropic organizations, Fetner is a governor of the Real Estate Board of New York, a director of the Realty Foundation of New York, and a passionate supporter of the American Cancer Society.
Fetner also gives his time and expertise to classes of Syracuse University students who visit his offices to meet with him, even to the point of giving them his e-mail address, should they have any additional questions. He responds to every e-mail they send. “I love talking to the students,” he said. “I tell them that as graduates of the Whitman School, they will have a strong foundation in business. But also coming from SU, they have a strong foundation in social responsibility. My advice to them is not to be afraid to take a chance. Trust your instincts and you’ll do fine.”