If you do not have seen Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up” with Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, you should. The movie is about an existential, albeit preemptive, threat to our world, and well, nobody seems to care.
While being an allegory, this political piece reflects climate reality for many. For those who care, there is no shortage of confusion over how best to combat this impending threat.
What if an answer was right in front of us? Take the fact that 40% of the world’s greenhouse gases come from the “built world”. Forty percent is quite the number in the context of what’s at stake. In this case, look up – and right and left, because the answer could be all around.
Front and center comes the estimated 97 billion square feet of commercial real estate. Despite this massive climate footprint and impact, lack of awareness and slow adoption of technologies by the real estate sector have hampered action until recently.
Added to this are misperceptions of returns on investing in climate investments and, frankly, information overload as the industry gets smart about carbon neutrality. Fortunately, evidence is emerging on the return on investment of climate technology for buyers and investors – evidence that could be crucial to ushering the “built world” into an era of carbon neutrality.
Green translates to 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 adoption of technologies that enable green certifications such as LEED and BREEAM.
Among a host of findings, JLL’s report cites that green certifications result in a 6% rent premium for commercial real estate and an 8% sales premium. But acknowledging climate change and realizing the effectiveness of climate technologies is just the beginning. Knowing where to start brings its own challenges.
To unlock this return on investment, owners have implemented a range of cost-saving technologies, such as efficient lighting, redesigned cooling and heating systems, and systems to reduce their electrical footprint. After all, to achieve LEED certification, buildings must achieve a performance score that combines metrics across multiple categories, including energy, water, waste, transportation, and quality.
To adapt, technology has emerged transversely across the value chain of design, construction and retrofitting parts of the building life cycle to improve metrics in LEED target categories. To unpack the opportunity come specific considerations with investments at each point.
Design and construction
An ideal, carbon-neutral world could be built from scratch. 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.