CEOs commit to massive real estate emissions reductions

The companies will use Green Building Principles, a system developed by the World Economic Forum

Key Takeaways:

  • Top CEOs from real estate and other industries pledge to reduce buildings-related emissions by at least 50 per cent by 2030 and be fully net-zero carbon no later than 2050.
  • Real estate is one of the biggest sources of global GHG but is often overlooked in wider decarbonization strategies.
  • CEOs will also implement the World Economic Forum’s Green Building Principles and Action Plan to make progress on their emissions targets.

The Whole Story:

A group of CEOs is pledging to reduce their real estate emissions by 50 per cent by 2030 and reach net-zero carbon no later than 2050.

In a press release, the CEOs stated that buildings contribute 38 per cent of all energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, meaning leaders across all industries have a critical role to play in lowering their global real estate emissions.

“While real estate represents nearly 40 per cent of all energy-related GHG emissions, the sector is frequently an afterthought when it comes to an organization’s decarbonization and sustainability strategies,” said Matthew Blake, head of financial and monetary systems for the World Economic Forum. “Leaders across all industries have a responsibility to take action on their real estate GHG emissions to ensure progress in the fight against climate change.”

The following companies have pledged to halve their buildings-related emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero building emissions by 2050: Avison Young, Edge, GPFI Group, Ivanhoé Cambridge, JLL, Majid Al Futtaim Properties, Schneider Electric and Signify.

The firms noted that they will meet these targets by implementing the forum’s Green Buildings Principles. Released last year, the Green Building Principles: The Action Plan for Net-Zero Carbon Buildings offers this sequence of steps to deliver net-zero carbon real estate portfolios:

1. Calculate a robust carbon footprint of your portfolio in the most recent representative year to inform targets

2. Set a target year for achieving net-zero carbon, by 2050 at the latest, and an interim target for reducing at least 50 per cent of these emissions by 2030.

3. Measure and record embodied carbon of new developments and major refurbishments.

4. Maximize emissions reductions for all new developments and major refurbishments in the pipeline to ensure delivery of net-zero carbon (operational and embodied) by selected final target year.

5. Drive energy optimization across both existing assets and new developments.

6. Maximize supply of on-site renewable energy.

7. Ensure 100% off-site energy is procured from renewable-backed sources, where available.

8. Engage with stakeholders with whom you have influence in your value chain to reduce scope 3 emissions.

9. Compensate for any residual emissions by purchasing high-quality carbon offsets.

10. Engage with stakeholders to identify joint endeavours and equitably share costs and benefits of interventions.

Developed in collaboration with JLL, the World Green Building Council and the Forum’s Real Estate community, the Green Building Principles can be formally adopted by firms and include an Action Plan detailing implementation.

The Action Plan provides globally applicable guidance on best practices to implement the principles for every stakeholder, from owners to occupiers to investors. Signatories will report progress annually as part of their public sustainability reporting and participate in a Practitioners Group to identify solutions around implementation.

“The emphasis on bringing together the world’s leading businesses and public figures to collectively address issues like climate change and driving social change is fundamental to what Avison Young stands for. ESG considerations across the board must be addressed by the real estate sector — buildings have a huge impact on our everyday lives and the planet,” said Mark E. Rose, chairman and CEO of Toronto-based Avison Young. “We are thrilled to adopt the Green Building Principles and demonstrate to our peers that reaching net zero is not only possible but essential for a better built environment and more resilient and successful cities.”


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