if not You should have seen Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up starring Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence. The film speaks of an existential, albeit pre-emptive, threat to our world, and well, no one seems to care.
Although an allegory, for many this political piece reflects climate reality. For those who care, there is no shortage of confusion as to how best to counter this looming threat.
But what if an answer was right in front of us? Assume that a staggering 40% of global greenhouse gases come from the ‘built world’. Forty percent is a pretty high number in the context of what’s at stake. In this case, look up – and to the right and to the left, because the answer could be anywhere.
Front and center is the estimated 97 billion square feet of commercial real estate. Despite this sizeable footprint and climate impact, a lack of awareness and the sluggish pace of technology adoption in the real estate industry have hampered action until recently.
Add to that misconceptions about returns on climate investing and, frankly, information overload as the industry gets smart about carbon neutrality. Fortunately, evidence of the ROI of climate technology is emerging for both buyers and investors alike – evidence that could be crucial in propelling the “built world” into a zero-carbon era.
Green means green
As the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. And when it comes to reducing the climate footprint of real estate, according to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the path begins with the introduction of technologies that enable green certifications such as LEED and BREEAM.
Alongside a number of conclusions, the JLL report states that green certifications result in a 6% rental premium for commercial properties and an 8% sales premium. But acknowledging climate change and raising awareness of the effectiveness of climate technologies is just the beginning. Knowing where to start brings its own set of challenges.
To unlock this ROI, property owners have implemented a range of cost-saving technologies such as efficient lighting, redesigned cooling and heating systems, and systems to reduce their electricity consumption. Finally, to earn LEED certification, buildings must achieve a performance score that combines metrics from multiple categories, including energy, water, waste, transportation and quality.
To address this, technology has emerged across the value chain of designing, constructing and retrofitting parts of the building lifecycle to improve metrics across all LEED target categories. Specific investment considerations must be made at each point to unleash the opportunity.
design and construction
An ideal, zero-carbon world could be built from the ground up. Proven technologies like Cove.Tool and Juno Residential are emerging to enable this brave new world of energy efficiency, starting with how buildings are designed and the materials they are constructed from.