November 19, 2021 | Lotte Schlegel
Protester hand holding sign reading There is No Planet B
Image courtesy of Markus Spiske from Pexels

Originally posted on LinkedIn.

COP26 wrapped up with mixed results, but one thing is very clear: the value of buildings in meeting our global climate commitments. We heard a lot about how policy is falling short of the level needed to support the rapid, deep, and sustained reductions across all sectors of the economy that are needed to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees or the level of climate adaptation we need to keep people safe…but I also heard a lot about how we have the knowhow we need TODAY to make our buildings part of the solution. So, who has the power to make change faster than the pace of policy? Investors, real estate, and construction companies.

The COP Built Environment Day highlighted the significant number of professionals and companies who have committed to the UN’s Race to Zero campaign, including real estate asset management companies worth $1.2 trillion. GRESB’s 2021 global benchmark is $5.7 trillion in assets under management. Given that commercial real estate in the U.S. alone is valued at approximately $17 trillion, there’s a lot of opportunity here!

How can investors and companies capture the opportunity?

Set climate performance targets for real estate investments and track progress against them. Building industry leaders told us what that can look like by sharing what they have done.   

  1. Require the design and construction of new buildings that are highly efficient and include passive survivability measures, and put energy resources on-site wherever feasible.
  2. Pick up the pace of building retrofits: set climate-friendly capital improvement plans in line with building performance targets that leverage what we know how to do in terms of technology and building operations today. 
  3. Require that attention be paid to supply chains: reduce the emissions associated with building materials like steel and concrete production and strategic re-use of existing buildings. Lendlease and Turner Construction are two companies working through action on this, and we recently completed a cross-sector webinar series with Clark Construction Group on what it will take to create low carbon buildings.

We must act fast on climate. It’s time for businesses to lead.

Program Area(s):

International , Policy , Real Estate

Meet the Author

Lotte Schlegel

Former Executive Director

Want to get regular updates from IMT?