City policy leaders and the real estate industry must work together when creating climate mitigation policies to maximize their effectiveness, according to Decarbonizing the Built Environment – 10 Principles for Climate Mitigation Policies, a new report published in April by the Urban Land Institute (ULI). ULI is a global, multi-disciplinary organization with over 47,000 members dedicated to creating thriving, livable and healthy cities worldwide.
By the end of 2019, 31 U.S. cities set energy benchmarking policies, with 15 requiring that structures meet performance targets or undertake additional actions like energy audits, and over 70 cities have pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050.
The 10 Principles report, a collaboration between ULI’s Greenprint Center for Building Performance and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) is intended to serve as a starting point for cities interested in engaging local real estate leaders during the shaping of climate mitigation policies, and for real estate organizations to increase their understanding of the potential impact of and ways of engaging on these policies. Each of the principles in the report are based on recommendations identified during a series of ULI City and Real Estate Sustainability Workshops that engaged over 60 public and private leaders.
”Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time, and real estate is at the forefront of addressing this global issue,” said ULI chief executive officer W. Edward Walter. “Recognizing the monumental task at hand, ULI in partnership with our friends at the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, sought to increase the dialogue and engagement between sustainability leaders at major real estate firms and city officials developing built environment climate policies and programs. Together we were able to learn from recent efforts and identify a set of principles that can serve as a foundation for more effective city-private sector partnerships in developing, establishing, and implementing policies to drive building sector decarbonization over the next 30 years. I’m proud that ULI has been at the forefront of leading this charge for our industry.”
The 10 principles for outlined in the report are:
The report encourages the real estate community to engage with local policy makers in order to help shape achievable climate action plans and regulations by outlining a role for real estate in each principle. Because the real estate sector currently contributes nearly 40 percent of carbon emissions globally and nearly 70 percent of emissions in urban areas, cities are beginning to pass climate legislation and initiatives that address current and new buildings. However, the real estate industry has been slow to adapt, leading to a disconnect between the two entities. The 10 Principles report seeks to bridge the gap between the real estate and public policy sector and create meaningful engagement that will both reduce carbon emissions and work for the industry. Each principle has a designated role for real estate, providing valuable guidance on how the industry can advise the public policy sector on climate-related issues.
“We hope this report is a valuable resource that motivates and enables real estate and city leaders alike to decarbonize the built environment in a collaborative and value-generating manner,” said Brian Swett, Boston Office Leader, Arup and board member of ULI’s Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance. “The scale of this climate challenge is immense, but by working together, the public and private sectors can create the right policy and economic structures to achieve building sector net carbon neutrality by midcentury while simultaneously enhancing the resilience and social equity of cities around the world.”
The report cites a number of cities that have engaged with their local real estate communities to practice these principles, including:
“Public and private sector collaboration will be crucial to advancing greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the built environment,” said Garrett Fitzgerald, Strategic Collaboration Director, USDN. “We are excited for communities to begin applying these critical principles as they begin to navigate affordability, sustainability and resilience priorities for the ongoing pandemic and future economic recovery.”