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Here’s why US real estate investors should see climate change as an opportunity

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As important as adopting renewable energy is ensuring that the buildings it powers are sustainable. electric asked Breana Wheeler, U.S. Director of Operations for BREEAM, the world’s first green building certification program, what an ideal decarbonized building might look like, and how U.S. real estate investors see climate change as an opportunity. I talked about how it should be perceived as

Electrek: What does BREEAM do and what would an ideal decarbonized building look like?

Breanna Wheeler: Launched in 1990, BREEAM is the world’s first green building certification program and is recognized and adopted in over 89 countries. Owned by BRE. BRE is a for-profit organization with over 100 years of architectural science and research background.

The ideal decarbonized building is one that has a highly efficient building envelope, is fully electrified, and can operate solely on renewable energy such as solar and wind generated on site. It also has a lower embodied carbon footprint, which is measured and managed through materials and construction processes throughout their lifecycle. BREEAM helps clients measure and manage carbon emissions through all stages of decarbonization.

Electrek: How badly do you think the EPA v. West Virginia Supreme Court ruling (which significantly cut EPA’s powers to regulate emissions that contribute to climate change) will impact the road to decarbonizing buildings? mosquito?

Breanna Wheeler: The EPA v. West Virginia Supreme Court decision elicited a strong response from industry leaders across markets because the federal government is a key enabler in tackling climate change. But we are confident that cities and states will continue to take the lead, through building performance codes, building codes, public utility commissions, and more, to fill the gaps left by the federal government in this area.

Moreover, public knowledge and understanding of climate risks continues to grow every day. Investors, businesses and local governments have shown a keen understanding of the potential impacts of unchecked climate change. These people and organizations continue to drive climate-related performance improvements and are on track regardless of this ruling.

Electrek: How can states and local governments close the gap left by the Supreme Court’s decision?

Breanna Wheeler: Many local governments have developed and are implementing climate action plans. With buildings making up a large portion of most cities’ footprints, many local governments are considering how policy instruments can be used to combat climate change.

The Energy Benchmarking Ordinance, which requires buildings to measure and report their energy usage, is an important first step. Transparency often encourages buildings to start managing the performance they are reporting when they see how they are doing in comparison to other buildings.

Building performance standards go a step further, requiring a certain level of performance to be measured and reported, and threatened with penalties if not met. In cities such as New York, Boston, and St. Louis, building performance codes clarify the cost of poor performance.

Cities have decoupled pension funds from fossil fuels, and states such as California have enacted programs such as: Climate change scoping planThis means a 15% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020, a 40% reduction from 1990 levels by 2030, and an 80% reduction from 1990 levels by 2050. We encourage local governments to set targets to

30 statesWashington, DC, and two U.S. territories are actively claiming renewable or clean energy, and three more states and one territory have set voluntary renewable energy targets. I’m here. New York, California, and Illinois have policies calling for the majority of their electricity to come from renewable sources within the next few decades.

As the impacts of climate change continue to be felt, we hope that these efforts will gain urgency and be strengthened and strengthened with rulings.

Electrek: Can the private sector make a difference if state or local governments choose not to go down the decarbonization path?

Breanna Wheeler: Undoubtedly, the private sector has led climate change in the United States. Private sector investors are increasingly aware that climate change poses significant financial risks to their assets. An unresilient built environment can disrupt the economy, threaten public health, and undermine the long-term value of real estate. If changes are not implemented now, investors risk diminishing returns and potentially stranded assets.

The most forward-thinking investors see climate change as an opportunity as well as a threat. As a result, they have invested his $31 billion in climate mutual funds and exchange-traded funds by the end of 2021. That’s a 45% increase from about $22 billion last year. Morningstar report.

There are significant economic opportunities in promoting a fairer and more sustainable decarbonized future, with investors pursuing strategies to fund climate change solutions while remaining competitive in global markets. increase.

Electrek: To what extent do you think the public is accepting and acting on the need to decarbonize buildings in the context of the climate crisis?

Breanna Wheeler: Climate change is a crisis that aggregates social problems such as food insecurity, poverty and inequality and affects individuals on a global scale, and it is already having an impact. In the United States, the scale of damage is increasing. As of July, he had nine disasters that have cost him more than $1 billion this year alone, and the effects of extreme heat waves are yet to be fully measured.

In recent years we Majority Percentage of Americans calling on both federal and local governments to strengthen and enact policies to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

What is scientifically clear is that we must act to avoid the worst impacts in the next decade. The real estate sector has a responsibility to address the impact. We are pleased to work with many organizations that recognize the risks of climate change and want to manage and turn them into opportunities.

read more: U.S. Supreme Court EPA Ruling Really Awful, But Here’s Why It’s All Not Lost

Photo by Scott Webb Pexels.com


Breana Wheeler was appointed Director of US Operations for Building Research Establishment (BRE) in 2016. BRE is her 100-year-old building science research organization focused on providing better, healthier buildings for people and the environment. Having successfully managed over 550,000 certifications since 1990, BRE is the world’s first built, leading science-based sustainability suite for global asset verification and certification. Developed.


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